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Tim Whalen

I have just seen on the club website the news of Tim Whalen’s death.

Though I do not recall seeing him play I’m sure I must have done as a little boy. I well remember his playing comtemporaries Hughie Gallacher, Tommy Govan and Andy Jardine though their stays at the club lasted beyond Tim’s.

Whatever, my father used to mention Tim in reverent terms and he is widely regarded as one of the club’s greats.

Tim Whalen. So it goes.

Falkirk 1-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 20/9/14

Sons fans gave over the first minute of this game to applause in appreciation of Kirsty Mackie, a dedicated Dumbarton fan who died unexpectedly this week. So it goes.

In many ways this was a case of getting out of jail. For at least three quarters of this game we weren’t in it. Falkirk’s players seemed to have acres of space, we didn’t seem to be pressing, our passing was woeful. Their goal followed three missed tackles, an evasion of Scott Linton that was far too easy and a cross to an unmarked man. They also hit the bar in that half and Danny Rogers had to come out quickly and spread himself well to prevent a second. Apart from that though Falkirk were pretty unimpressive.

In the second they made Danny Rogers make one more save, a blinding, twisting, reflex effort that was out of the top drawer.

Credit to manager Ian Murray, though, who made his substitutions and went for it, even to the extent of putting Andy Graham up front in the attempt to salvage a point, a tactic I’ve not seen Murray use before. (Sadly this only showed why Andy is better employed at centre half – but his presence may have been a factor in upsetting Falkirk’s defence.)

We dominated the last ten minutes and the equaliser was coming, their keeper had to make several saves and Colin Nish got just too much onto an Archie Campbell cross. The goal followed a sublime piece of footwork from Steven McDougall to get into the box and square it for Chris Kane to score yet another of his late goals.

Hibernian 3-2 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup, Round 2, Easter Road Stadium, 26/8/14.

A case of might have been. Two-nil up with less than fifteen minutes to go you would expect not to lose; but of course we did.

The first half I thought Hibs looked sharper and more threatening but apparently we had more possession (from Boghead Ranter – about halfway down the page.) They seemed to have more space but we held them off. That is a hellish green they have for a shirt though, not Hibs-like at all.

Garry Fleming had a good game but against opponents like this his limitations were highlighted. His strengths through, particularly effort and putting himself about gave their defenders problems. Colin Nish looked more up for it than usual and came onto a game. I thought Scott Taggart was good at centre half – in the first half anyway. In the second our defence was too far away from the Dumbarton support to be sure of anything about it.

The second half was a bit different. We suddenly had a period of domination and got the goal, Scott Agnew’s corner headed back across goal by Nish and Mitch Megginson reacting quickly to hook the ball in on the volley.

The second followed another Agnew corner, again knocked back and Garry Fleming’s tenacity (He was fouled but we weren’t going to get a penalty) meant the ball rebounded to Mark Gilhaney who hit it. The ball ricocheted off at least two Hibs defenders before just crossing the line.here was some confusion for a second or two before the ref – or perhaps the linesman – gave it.

Curiously at that point – at least 25 minutes to go – some Hibs fans decided to leave!

In retrospect that goal came too early. If we had gone two up later it might have killed them. As it was they had a long time in which to come back. Nish’s substitution (by Jordan Kirkpatrick) may have been the turning point. Suddenly our one tactic for getting the ball out had gone and we were pressed back more and more. In addition we began to look tired, especially Garry Fleming whose own substitution was about ten minutes too late.

When they scored it only invited more pressure but unbelievably the second was more or less a carbon copy of the first; a cross headed in by the impressive but all but unmarked El Alagui. I don’t remember seeing a striker as good as him all last season. Ater that there was only going to be one winner – and I didn’t want it to be in extra time. One small mercy then.

Three goals lost in less than twelve minutes isn’t good, even if we were tiring against a full time team. But when we had a go at them they looked vulnerable and we showed we can score.

However, we’re losing at least three goals a game; no matter whom we play and no matter the centre back pairing.

This is beginning to look like an amalgam of the 2010-11 and 2012 -13 seasons. And beginning to feel horribly like a relegation season. Things need to change soon.

Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy on and off and haven’t had much time for blogging.

BĂȘte  cover

I’m not mentioning Saturday’s result, I’m too depressed. Just as well I didn’t make the trip. I feel I ought to turn up at Easter Road for the League Cup game though.

My latest Interzone review book has arrived. It’s Adam Roberts’s latest, BĂȘte. (It’s not that long ago I read his Jack Glass.) The review will appear in issue 255.

I think I forgot to mention issue 253 had come out.* That one has my review of Kieran Shea’s Koko Takes a Holiday.

*Edited to add. My memory is mince. I did mention it, when I reviewed the fiction in issue 250.

Raith Rovers 3-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 9/8/14

I’m still puzzling as to how we lost this. In the first half Raith weren’t in it and we had three times as many shots on target as we had in the whole of last week’s game plus an Archie Campbell cross that just evaded Colin Nish’s outstretched leg.

Mind you the day had started badly when the team appeared in the new away kit for the first time.

Raith came out a bit quicker in the second half and Danny Rogers was forced into a save from Christian Nade but still the goal when it came was a bit of a shock – a poorly defended long throw. Raith took heart and raised their game and we fell out of it. The second was a free kick on the edge of the box. I was in great line to see the wall wasn’t lined up properly and Rogers’s positioning a bit suspect.* By the time of the third we’d just gone to three at the back to chase the game and so were left exposed.

Overall our play was too narrow, with not enough thrust nor cutting edge. I can’t see us getting much playing like this. Scott Agnew’s well struck goal wasn’t much of a consolation.

We don’t do league wins in early August, though.

But that new strip is honking.

*Edited to add. I’ve just seen the video footsge on Pie and Bovril and must admit I didn’t realise Scotty Linton was on the line for the free kick. It looks like that put off Rogers jumping for it.

Brechin City 0-1 Dumbarton

Scottish League Cup, Glebe Park, 2/8/14.

This was not an advert for the beautiful game. Very few chances were created between the two sides. A Brechin player looked to have a tap-in in the first half after their wide man got round David van Zanten far too easily and squared the ball but somehow the guy in the centre contrived to miscue so badly the ball went for a throw in.

We didn’t seem very direct – I can’t see that way of playing succeeding in the league this season, but then again for years we’ve needed to tighten up at the back and this was a clean sheet.

I can only think of their keeper having the one save – punching it out wide from a Scott Agnew free-kick. Our goal came from the resultant throw-in; the scrappiest goal you’ll ever see, Andy Graham’s effort ricocheting from two defenders’ bodies before crossing the line.

Chris Turner didn’t look fully fit to me. Archie Campbell was lively when he came on and got behind their defence a few times. Mitch Megginson screwed a great cut back from him wide. New on-loan keeper Danny Rogers didn’t have much to do – one good save apart – but seemed confident enough.

Improvement required for the Raith game on the 9th, though.

Stranraer 3-2 Dumbarton

Petrofac Training Cup, Round 1, Stair Park, 26/7/14.

And so it goes.

Again.

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.

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