Dundee new boy Nathan Ralph can’t wait to kick off his Premiership career at St Mirren and rejects any talk of Scottish football being on a downward spiral.
Ralph made the switch from Woking in the English National League over the summer and is eager to get the league campaign up and running, with the Dark Blues heading to face last season’s Championship winners in Paisley.
The 25-year-old may have swapped the National League for the Premiership but Adam Rooney making the opposite move as he grabbed the riches on offer at Salford City from Aberdeen sparked furious debate over the supposed ‘demise of Scottish football’ last week.
Ralph says that’s nonsense and insists there’s no better time to be a part of the Scottish game.
He said: “To be honest, I’ve heard more of the opposite really.
“You’ve got people like Steven Gerrard coming up here – things like that make it a big time for the league.
“People are telling me it’s a really good time to be in Scottish football and it’s definitely going places.
“I disagree with all that was said, I feel like it’s a good time to be up here for sure.
“I can’t wait to get started. Obviously, I’ve been waiting a wee while now just to be a part of the Scottish Premiership.
“I can’t wait to get into it.”
The Dark Blues head to the Simple Digital Arena today aiming to spoil the party as the Buddies unfurl their Championship-winners flag.
And after making his home debut, and losing, against second-tier Dunfermline 12 days ago, Ralph and his team- mates certainly won’t be underestimating their opponents.
He added: “The fact they were the league below last season doesn’t really mean anything.
“I thought Dunfermline were a good team so you can’t read anything into that.
“St Mirren will work hard and be in our faces. We’ll have to ride that and show our own quality, play our game, believe in the system and, hopefully, get a result.
“My home debut was a bit frustrating with the injury and the team not playing very well, especially first half. However, it was one game, you’d like to think it was a bit of a blip.
“You can’t keep thinking about that, you’ve got to get on with it.
“It was frustrating being the first game in front of our fans to be like that. However, there will be plenty more games where we can do better.
“I knew the league up here was going to be full of tough games.
“I know there are no easy rides and you have to be on top of your game every game for 90 minutes. It wasn’t a surprise.
“I’ve been told it’s a tough league and every game will be a grind so we need to get our goals, take the chances and make things happen.
“When you do, you need to make sure you stay ahead and can keep clean sheets. I’m fully aware every game is going to be a grind, there are no real easy games.
“It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”
That challenge of stepping up from English Non-League football had a huge bearing in the left-back’s decision to make the move north of the border – as well as the persuasion of manager Neil McCann.
“I’ve been in and out of the lower leagues in England and I feel this is a really good challenge and I’m looking forward to it.
“The level really stood out – it’s the top league in Scotland. Playing against the top teams and best players is a chance for me to really improve.
“The club has a young ambitious manager who will improve me and likes to do things the right way. All of that sold the move for me.”