Martin Woods saw first-hand the devastating effects of relegation from the Premiership when he was at Partick Thistle last season.
That “horrible” experience has made the midfielder doubly determined not to go through the same sinking feeling now that he is with Dundee.
The bottom-of-the-table Dark Blues face another crunch clash with 10th-placed Hamilton at Dens tonight with Jim McIntyre’s side determined to register their first home league win of the season to close the eight-point gap on Accies and draw level with St Mirren in 11th.
Woods has made a big impact for Dundee since he signed a short-term deal at the start of last month and he is certainly up for the dogfight at the wrong end of the table after being part of a Jags side relegated by then Championship outfit Livingston in the play-offs.
The 32-year-old said: “Looking back at Thistle, our points from November onwards weren’t too bad and we gave ourselves a really good chance, but then we faced Livingston.
“The way Livi played shocked us over the two legs.
“They have started well this season so maybe it doesn’t look so bad. It was really gutting though.
“Alan Archibald (former Thistle boss) phoned me in the summer. He was really good and said I can offer you something but I know you will be looking to stay in the Premiership.
“It was the first time I had been relegated from this league and it was horrible.
“I certainly don’t want to go through that feeling again with Dundee because it is not just the players who are affected, there are a raft of good people behind the scenes as well.”
After leaving Thistle, Woods was obviously without a club for several months but despite being out of work, he revealed he turned down an offer to sign for Dundee United because “it just wasn’t for me”.
He said: “It is good to be back in, having that routine again.
“It was very difficult being out but I just had to remain professional.
“I basically trained myself. You have to look after yourself so when you get the chance you are ready.
“You have to train hard, eat properly and be ready to go when the right thing comes up. It was difficult but you just need to stay mentally strong.”
He added: “I went to train with Dundee United but I didn’t fancy it.
“It was under Csaba Laszlo and I didn’t really get a good feeling for the place.
“I was only in for four days and he said he wanted to sign me.
“He asked me to stay about so he could ask for the money to sign me but I told him that it just wasn’t for me.
“Then Dundee came up and I jumped at the chance because I know how the manager works.
“I know there is enough in that dressing room with a few tweaks in January to give us a good chance of staying up.”
Woods knew McIntyre well from their time together at Ross County and he did not hesitate to sign for him again at Dens despite the fact his spell at the Staggies ended with the pair having a fall-out.
Woods said: “That is all water under the bridge now.
“I think the two of us have been man enough to put it behind us.
“We have had loads of chats and it was put to bed very quickly. That is testament to the manager because a lot of people don’t forget about wee fall-outs.
“It was sorted out a few months after and we have kept in touch since.
“I jumped at the chance to work with him again because I know exactly what I am getting.
“The clarity is there and he makes it very simple for players and wants hard work. I like that environment and it will stand us in good stead.
“When I first signed (at County) it was in November when we were bottom of the league.
“We went on a great run and we had a great bunch of boys. We managed to keep ourselves up and the following season we went on to even better things.”
Woods is under no illusions about the importance of tonight’s game but he believes a more organised Dundee are capable of winning.
He said: “It is a must-win for us this early in the season. If we can beat them and win our game in hand, then we could close the gap right down.
“Hopefully, we can jump above St Mirren as well. Every game is going to be vital for us and you have seen over the last couples of matches we have been a lot better organised now.”