One of the kinder stereotypes about Scottish people is that they are generally friendly, though the genesis of that trope clearly wasn’t the terraces of our football grounds. The snarls, the abuse and the anger that cascade down towards the pitch here is simply accepted as part of the game. And boy, has Sam Nicholson missed it.

It’s not that he didn’t enjoy his time plying his trade in the USA amid the the rather more sanitised environs of Major League Soccer, but the more tribal atmosphere at even a sparsely attended McDiarmid Park last week was enough to get the Motherwell new boy’s competitive juices flowing again.

He is looking forward to stepping out at Fir Park for the first time as a home player today then, and with a healthy crowd expected through to Lanarkshire from Kilmarnock, once again sampling the earthier delights of a good old fashioned Scottish atmosphere.

“Last week was my first game since coming back and you sense the competitiveness in the stands, you don’t get that as much [over there] because it’s more family orientated,” Nicholson said.

“When I was younger you went to the game with your mates and you could shout abuse at whoever you wanted to. But it’s different there.

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“There’s no culture of travelling support - you fly to away games so if fans are going to go it’s such a big country it costs a lot of money for them to do it. Whereas here you’re on a bus enjoying the day with your mates. It’s nice to come back to it and feel that kind of pressure you kind of miss out there.

“I remember my first game back in 2017 and we got beat 3-0 by New York Red Bulls. I was leaving the pitch and they were saying, ‘good job, man’. I was thinking it wasn’t really a good job!

“That’s not me saying anything bad, they are so nice and friendly out there. It’s not the end of the world [when you lose], but here you can ruin people’s week if you get beat.

“That’s just the passion we have in this country. That is not a bad thing.”

On the plus side, competing in MLS allowed Nicholson to rub shoulders with some special players, and even win a personal battle against one of his childhood idols in Ashley Cole.

Though, he concedes that the standard varied somewhat over the piece.

“It’s hard because you’ve got people like (Lionel) Messi in the MLS and you’ve got people like me!” he laughed.

“There’s a big jump. So, it’s hard to compare [to the Premiership]. It’s definitely more athletic. The people who aren’t technically gifted are usually freak athletes - fast, strong and they make up for it. What they can’t do on the ball, they get around the pitch really well.

“I didn’t get to play against Messi, and I’m gutted about that - but he’d have megged me anyway.

“I played against a lot of terrific players – (Wayne) Rooney, Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), (Bastian) Schweinsteiger.

“I loved watching Ashley Cole when I was younger, and I enjoyed playing against him. I actually scored, but he was still brilliant.

“As players get older you think they’re not going to be as good but they’re still unbelievable players.”

While all eyes will be on a potential return to Fir Park for Kevin van Veen in the colours of Killie this afternoon, Nicholson himself has returned to his homeland a little older and wiser, and he is hoping to remind people of the talent that allowed him to catch the eye as a younger player at Hearts.

And a longer stay at Motherwell beyond his short-term loan deal is something that he is very open to exploring.

“When I got the call from the gaffer he didn’t need to convince me too much,” he said.

“I knew how big a club Motherwell was from playing against them. But when he started selling me the club I felt this is for me.

“He just said the club was going in the right direction. They’ve been a bit unlucky with results, like last week where we deserved more. He said the same about the first half of the season and it’s about turning these draws into wins.

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“We are only a few wins away from pushing towards the top six.

“I’m under contract in the MLS until December so I’m not sure what will happen. I need to figure it out but I am just happy to be here to be honest.

“It’s great being closer to home. I’ve got a little one so it’s nice to be near grandparents, it’s ideal for me to be honest.”