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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.

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.

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