LAST ACTION HERO
Iain’s late winner at Rovers was one of his career highlights
A wonder goal and a last- minute winner – those are former Diamond Iain Russell’s finest Monklands derby memories.
In a dramatic afternoon last term, Airdrie battled for a 4- 3 win at Cliftonhill with boyhood fan Russell smashing home the volley from range before Sean McIntosh headed in the late winner.
The 35- year- old went through the New Broomfield exit last summer as he announced his retirement from the game. However, he made his comeback to the game with Championship side Dumbarton after a change in work commitments.
Russell holds the dramatic day back in March as one of the highlights of his career – and has called for his exteammates to create more great memories against their ML5 neighbours.
“I’ve had the cup final experience now wi t h Dumbarton [ Irn- Bru Cup Final defeat to Inverness], but playing for your boyhood club and scoring in a local derby is really special,” he told the Advertiser.
“Obviously with Sean scoring at the end of the game we get the win and run into the crowd and are able to celebrate with the fans.
“It ’ s something that will always stay with me. Obviously we didn’t do as well in the home derbies last season.
“They were games that we struggled in, but it’s a chance for the boys to put that right this season.”
Russell has almost been standing in No Man’s Land this season for the Diamonds.
Having spent time training with the club before making his switch to the Sons, Russell was a fan in the camp during the crisis-hit months at the end of the former owner and chairman Tom Wotherspoon’s era at the club.
The ex-skipper feels that this has been a huge factor in the struggles of the side this season as they languish in mid-table.
Having come within a penalty shoot-out of the playoff final during his Airdrie spell, the forward feels that they may have overachieved with the squad they had.
However, he has backed manager Stephen Findlay and assistant Marc Fitzpatrick to mount a promotion bid next term.
“I still keep in touch with the boys. We had a good team and a really good team spirit,” said the Championship player.
“Probably, looking back on it, we underestimated how well we did with the players we had. The team hasn’t changed too much but has struggled a bit this season.
“It’s been a tough season for the club off the park and that’s obviously played its part. I trained with the club up until December and the manager has come in with a lot of good new ideas.
“It has just been tough this season to turn around the form with all the turmoil at the club. And you’ve got to remember it’s a young squad who were going through all that.
“They then have to go up against the likes of Ayr and Raith and established parttime teams like Alloa and Arbroath.
“On the park, this season is just about stability.
“If they can get that I think they will do well next season.
“Hopefully they can make the play-offs or do even better than that.”
Pure joy Iain Russell celebrates his wonder strike in the Monklands derby