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Brechin Away

Our League Cup opponents on 2/8/14 are to be Brechin City at Glebe Park.

It used to be a regular occurrence but it now seems like ages since we played there – even if it’s only actually been two seasons.

Not long to wait!

Andy Jardine

I’ve just seen from the club website that one of Sons’ most loyal servants, left back Andy Jardine, has died.

He played a total of 364 games for the club in the 1950s and 60s – including 309 times with Tommy Govan as his partner at full back.

The pairing more or less picked itself. I can still hear the Boghead announcer intoning, “Robertson, Govan and Jardine,” or “Crawford, Govan and Jardine,” as the first three names on the team sheet.

Andy’s last appearance for the club was historic in another sense. It was in the 5-1 win over Third Lanark which was that club’s last ever game.

My last memory of Andy is of that Christmas Day game at Love Street, Paisley in 1971 when big Roy McCormack scored the best goal I’ve ever seen by a Sons player. Andy wasn’t playing, he was a spectator – can of beer in hand (yes, you could bring beer into the ground in those days) – dispensing ex-player’s wisdom to his successor at left back that day, Billie Wilkinson. “Nice wee nudge, son. Oh, unlucky. He’s seen it.”

Andy Jardine, long-standing left back. So it goes.

Domestic Football Update

Our traditional first round exit in the – now renamed – Challenge Cup (its new name is the Petrofac Training Cup) will be to the same opponents who did for us last year, Stranraer.

Cup draw

How bizarre it is to see the names of Hearts and Hibs along with Rangers in this context.

New Season’s Fixtures

What with the World Cup and other things intervening I haven’t yet mentioned the league fixtures for next season.

I won’t have to travel far for the first game, which is Raith away. (Further than I used to certainly – I used to be able to walk to Stark’s Park – but not far.)

October looks interesting!

Sat Oct 4 Cowdenbeath H
Sat Oct 11 Hibernian A
Sat Oct 18 Heart of Midlothian A
Sat Oct 25 Rangers H

What a Difference Two Years Makes

Just two seasons ago Dumbarton finished third in Division 2 of the SFL. Arbroath ended five points and one place better off.

Despite that apparently greater pedigree it was Dumbarton that prevailed in the play-off semi-final between the two, consigning Arbroath to another season in Div 2, while the Sons climbed, via their play-off win, onwards and upwards to SFL Div 1 (now the SPFL Championship.)

That mere two years later Sons have ended the season fifth in Tier 2 while Arbroath finished bottom in the next league down and so the clubs will play two divisions apart next season.

Morton were runners-up in Tier 2 last season. This year (despite beating Sons twice!) they were more or less dreadful and finished a poor last.

Things can change so quickly in football.

Dundee 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Dens Park, 3/5/14.

Well, that was a strange experience. To see ten thousand opposition fans go from expectation to apprehension to joy then all the way over to fear was something.

It says a lot about our commitment that Dundee spent the last five or so minutes taking the ball to the corner flag.

We had the better of the game – without creating a clear-cut chance – until they scored. Once again our inability to deal with crosses cost us. Their scorer, Nade, was the best player on the park, though, I thought. Maybe Jamie Ewings could have made a better fist of the attempted save but the Dumbarton fans were way up the far end of the ground so it’s hard to tell. It was poor defending for their second too but Jamie had no chance with that one. A Colin Rhyming Slang flick had hit the post in between times but that was as good as it got first half.

Sons fans kept chanting out updates to the Hamilton score – among other gems like, “you only sing when you’re winning,” and, “we forgot that you were here.” A bit like the Aberdeen game.

Second half we pushed them really hard, got the penalty and scored it. There followed two more even better penalty claims after the first of which I said to Big Rab, “We’re never gonna get two today.” That just doesn’t happen to a wee club on a day like yesterday. Their keeper still had to make two great saves to gain them the points though. All this wa sup the far end so I wasn’t quite sure who had the efforts on goal.

Around this time the young Sons choir started singing, “We can smell the shite from here,” at the opposition fans’ discomfort.

There was no barrier at all to the pitch at the stand opposite us. We all knew there was no chance of the invasion not happening at the end. Two other home stands’ occupants also rushed on at the final whistle. For a moment I feared for our players’ safety but they all made it okay. Ian Murray made sure they didn’t run up the tunnel immediately but stayed to congratulate the fans (who reciprocated.) There were several hundred at least of us there yesterday, a good turn out for a nothing game for us.

It was weird to witness such outpourings of relief and joy and not feel a part of it. I’ve been at another side’s promotion winning game before when we were the away team (vs Raith in the 1980s, Dunfermline lost unexpectedly in their game the same day) and it was a very detached feeling then too.

So. We ended the season fifth, with a positive goal difference. I can’t believe it’s over so soon.

Dumbarton 4-1 Hamilton Academical

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 26/4/14.

Wow! 4-1.

Makes up for the doing we got at their place early on in the season.

It also sets up the last day nicely for nail biting by Hamilton and Dundee fans – and perhaps Falkirk ones too. Plus Alloa must be bricking it now Cowdenbeath are only two points behind.

Sadly fourth spot is now beyond us. I can’t see a twelve goal swing in our favour next week. Fifth is achieved with a game still to play though. This is a magnificent achievement by the management and players. We can bask in it over the summer.

Dumbarton 0-3 Queen of the South

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 19/4/14.

Since I was at Eastercon I wasn’t at this game. It looks like the promotion play off is out the window for sure now, especially since we play the top two in the last two games.

Mind you, it would be nice to beat Dundee on their own patch in the last game.

If both Livingston and Raith drop any points over the next two weekends fifth place is assured, which would be a magnificent achievement. Since they play each other on May 3rd that’s quite likely.

Raith Rovers 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 12/4/14

Straight away as the teams came out I noticed their keeper was wearing an all orange number which nearly matched our away strip. It was about ten minutes in before it was changed for a black top. A woman Sons supporter shouted out, “what about the shorts?” Ooh-er, missus. (The shorts were changed for black ones during half time.)

This was a comprehensive win. We had six efforts on target to Raith’s two before we scored. The goal had been coming and Mark Gilhaney’s first time drive when the ball came out to him was a fully deserved result for our endeavours up to then. Jamie Ewings had two excellent saves – one from a defensive header for which he had little time to react but still diverted on to the bar – in the first half.

Our second was a great individual goal from Mitch Megginson, slaloming through their defence before slotting it past the keeper. Does Mitch score ordinary goals?

A comfortable enough first half. I know Raith were missing several midfielders for one reason or another but you can only play the team you’re up against; and we did, rather well.

The third came when Colin Rhyming Slang – who had a good game overall – reacted quickly to the break of the ball in the box to knock it in at the near post.

Their goal followed on from a passage of play notable for the most blatant handball I’ve ever seen, the ball being knocked down by the Raith attacker from about head height as he was on the run. How the ref, two linos and the fourth official between them could not see it is beyond me. The ensuing corner came back out to their player who curled it in well thus ruining our potential first away clean sheet of the season. But the corner should not have been.

Raith had a bit of a flurry after that but any chance they had of more goals was ruined when their defender was given a straight red for denying Garry Fleming a clear goalscoring opportunity and the game kind of petered out after that.

Curiously for the second straight game at Stark’s Park Jordan Kirkpatrick had to leave injured.

There is now not even the arithmetical possibility of a relegation play-off. Fourth place is possible but will be difficult, fifth would still be a remarkable achievement.

Edited to add:- Chris Turner did a lot of quiet, unobtrusive stuff in the game allowing the other midfielders to get on with playing on the front foot.

Dumbarton 4-1 Alloa Athletic

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 5/4/14

Much belated congratulations to the team (managerial and players) in thumping Alloa again and so securing second tier status for at least another year. I didn’t even know out scorers till Sunday as telly has been pretty much on the back burner and internet access not really a priority for the last few days. I’ve still not got the main computer hooked up.

I know technically Cowdenbeath could still catch our points total but the goal difference difference is also massively in our favour. They’ve also won only nine times all season so to get four out of four would be incredible. Time to look up the table. One more win for us – or loss for Alloa – would mean we’re the top part-time team in Scotland twice in a row.

On to Raith on Saturday. They’ll be buzzing after winning the Challenge Cup though.

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