DEAN JARVIS admits he was 'nervous' when limbering up to make his Brandywell return as a substitute against his hometown club last Monday night.
The versatile full-back made 146 appearances for Derry City since signing from Institute in 2013 but his five year service for the club didn't stop him from being on the receiving end of some stick from the terraces in Dundalk's 4-1 victory.
The Brandywell lad, who grew up less than two minutes from the ground, had heard reports that ex-City favourite, Barry McNamee was met with a frosty reception upon his return with Cork City four days previously and so he was braced for a barrage of abuse from the stands following his decision to swap Foyleside for Oriel Park.
After biding his time on the sidelines, Jarvis had started the previous four matches but had to settled for a place on the bench against his old team, despite heading the ball off the line in the last minute of injury time to secure a precious three points for the Lilywhites in Sligo four days earlier.
He was introduced as a second half substitute for George Poynton and took up his familiar left-back slot for the final 26 minutes with the visitors well in control of the game at 3-1.
However, he freely admits he was a bag of nerves until he got the first couple of minutes out of his system.
"It was good to get the win," said the Derry man. "I was a bit nervous myself coming back up because I heard a few of the boys got stick like Barry (McNamee) with Cork.
"It was strange playing against Derry especially coming into the new stadium it felt really different. It was my first time playing against my hometown club and it was strange but as soon as I got the first couple of minutes out of my system it was just business as usual.
"At the start it was quiet," he recalled. "I don't know if it was a bit of tension. As soon as they got the goal it livened the crowd up a bit but the boys responded well and tried to blank it out. I tried to blank it out myself," he smiled.
Of course Jarvis wasn't the only former Candy Stripe to make his return with Galliagh native Michael Duffy netting the decisive third goal at the start of the second half and producing a performance which justified his winning of the Player of the Month award, pipping the in-form Aaron McEneff for the accolade.
The defender, who has played in midfield and at centre half for the Lilywhites this season, believes the emphatic victory was a statement of Dundalk's title intent as they became the first team to win at the new Brandywell.
Jarvis felt Kenny Shiels' men predictably played into Dundalk's hands as they capitalised with the high press and quick counter attack.
"Derry are pretty much the same under Kenny," he said. "He tries to play the one way and won't change for nobody. It plays into the hands of some teams and others it it goes against them. Especially for us who like to press it leaves gaps and we capitalised on that.
"We took our goals away and we got them at the right times in the second half just to kill off the game. We knew they would throw more men forward and we could hit them on the counter attack. It was a comfortable night in the end.
"The teams in the top four hadn't lost a game at home and something had to give and we're happy we got the win. It's a big statement for us to push on and go for the league."
It had been almost 18 months since Jarvis had last played at Brandywell and he was impressed with the new surface and the Mark Farren Stand at Brandywell which, he feels, gives the stadium a much needed 'facelift'.
"I'm used to the surface with the pitch at Oriel but the stand is brilliant and it's what the city needed - it's a face-lift for the club and you can tell by the amount of fans they're getting in.
"They will want to make Brandywell a fortress and they won't lose too many points here this season," he predicted.
Jarvis has no regrets about leaving Derry at the end of last season and he's determined to win as much silverware as possible with this excellent Dundalk side.
"I want to win trophies and we're going to try and win everything we can get our hands on. That's the mentality at the club and everyone buys into it. We're going to have to push on in the next couple of weeks and increase that gap at the top."