It’s been twists and turns for Callum Morris ever since he moved to Dingwall in 2018, but ultimately, he helped Ross County survive in the Scottish Premiership on two occasions.
Morris leaves the Highland club this summer, having been their vice-captain, aiding the club back to Scotland’s top-flight and then two successive survival bids in the midst of Covid-19. It hasn’t been easy for the former Dundee United centre-back on a personal note though, his season ended in February due to a hamstring injury.
He made more appearances in two years at previous club Dunfermline Athletic than he did in three years at County, Morris telling NTOF: “It’s been stop-start since I got to County! It has been a tough season. On a personal note, whenever I seemed to get going, something seemed to happen and to finish it the way I did wasn’t great.
“For the squad, it’s been a rollercoaster. Premiership survival was the aim and we got over the line. It’s not been little injuries I have had either. I have had three operations since I have been at County. I’ve had two hamstring reconstructions and my hand fixed after blocking a shot! It’s a great place to play your football, the facilities are brilliant.
“It’s a stunning place but it is a bit different. The common thing to do in Scottish football is to stay in the central belt. But if you are coming to Ross County, you need to commit to it, but that helps with team spirit as everyone is local. It’s like one big family and you can lean on each other more throughout the season.”
It’s been a turbulent season for Ross County. A strong start under Stuart Kettlewell was not built on and John Hughes replaced the Highland legend as manager in December. Hughes kept County in the Premiership on the final day of last season against Motherwell but he too has left, replaced by new boss Malky Mackay last month.
Several issues cropped up throughout the season but Morris says it’s job done in the end: “We found a solution and stayed up on the final day of the season. It was the longest season I have been involved with, from the lockdown to the extended pre-season, then straight into the new season.
“Then the cup games during the international break, it was a drag. But staying up on the final day against Motherwell was special. We were so up and down. We’d be great one week and terrible the next. We’d win away to Celtic and get beat off Hamilton at home. The past two seasons, our defensive efforts have been atrocious.
“Our goals conceded must be touching 130 or something crazy like that. And most of the goals were all mistakes. We tried to put it right, but we didn’t. That was disappointing but we stayed up, we got there in the end. For the provincial teams, it was just about staying in the league.
“Everything was up in the air last season with Covid. It wasn’t a great season, but giving the club the platform to rebuild in the Premiership is a good outcome.”
There has been uproar at how some players have departed Ross County following the expiry of their contracts. Club legends Michael Gardyne and Iain Vigurs have hit out at the club for treatment over their exits while rumours of Zoom call announcements and keeping players out the loop on new deals have also emerged.
Morris is still at the club despite his release and can understand both sides, the former Dundee United defender looking to take his time in picking his next move: “I was at the club – I’m still at the club – I’ve been in everyday as I have been doing rehab from my surgery! I’m sure some of the boys did enough for a new deal.
“I don’t know whether that was a decision that was made on performances, but from what I gather, the club wants a clean slate. And I can understand that, before Covid we were 11th and this season we stayed up on the final day.
“Was it a successful season on what we aspired to do at the start of the season? Probably not. I saw it coming so I wasn’t shocked by it. There was some radio silence from the club and people probably expected John to get the job. The club did their due diligence and that probably didn’t sit right with some of the players.
“Some of the guys did these interviews on the same day they were released, so obviously they are going to be emotional. It’s tough to take but we’ve all been there. I won’t necessarily stay in Scotland.
“I am open to anything. I will exhaust every channel before pledging to something. The easy option would be to commit in Scotland, but I want something with some more longevity to it.”
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