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Blogging Hiatus

For various reasons I haven’t been able to organise blog posts recently. I’ve also missed the second round of Confederations Cup matches.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can get round to it.

I note Sons’ fixture list for next season is due out tomorrow. I might be able to comment on that by Saturday.

Football Again

The new season doesn’t take long in coming around.

Sons’ opponents in the League Cup (Betfred Cup) will be Kilmarnock, Ayr United, Clyde and Annan Athletic. Matches to be played during the second half of July.

A quick reunion with Ayr, then. Doubtless we’ll get nothing out of that. They had the hex on us last season. It’s a long time since we played Kilmarnock.

Dumbarton 0-1 Falkirk

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 6/5/17.

Well; it’s done now.

Next season Sons will still be playing in Scottish football’s second tier. That will be six years in a row – a magnificent achievement for a part-time club.

But it was close this time. Never before has it gone down to the last day, never before have we survived only on goal difference. It’s an indication of how difficult the task is year on year. And once again we have finished above at least one full-time club. We are punching above our weight.

Making it all the more sweet is that we have been the beneficiaries of what the Scotsman inquired might have been the worst transfer of the season. It was in fact the best. Lewis Vaughan’s goals contributed directly to six points in our efforts to stay up.

But survive we have and congratulations to the management team and players.
It’s a roller-coaster ride following Sons at the best of times. In this division wins are hard to come by and few enough per season. When they do occur the joy is that much more delicious.

It will all end one day but while trips to big grounds like Ibrox, Tynecastle or Easter Road are not on the agenda for next season there is still (maybe) Tannadice and the likes of St Mirren and East End Parks to go to and the possible prospect of rare games for us in Inverness.

But football doesn’t stand still. The worrying starts again in a couple of months time. Less if you fret about the manager’s future and summer signings.

Dundee United 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Tannadice Park, 29/4/17.

Well, it’s not quite done.

We certainly can’t be relegated automatically but barring a nine goal swing between our game against Falkirk at the Rock on Saturday and Raith’s at home to Ayr we won’t be in the relegation play-off – and that has the (less likely) back-up that St Mirren also don’t get a point from their game with Hibs.

At the start a point didn’t look possible from this game. Dundee United stormed out of the blocks and came close too many times for comfort; as befitted a team looking for second place in the Division. Yet they didn’t score and we came into it a bit. It looked like we’d weathered the storm but then they scored from a corner. Alan Martin got his hands to it but couldn’t keep it out. He did make a great save from a header a few minutes later. Curiously though I was never in any doubt that he would; he’s a great reaction keeper.

Robert Thomson came close to us from a corner of our own glancing his header just over the bar onto the net’s roof. But it was only a delay. A corner from the other side was delivered fairly poorly, straight to a defender but he only hooked it to the edge of the box where it was first-timed back across goal to where Robert Thomson was steaming in. Cue scenes in the away end.

At half-time I remarked I hadn’t seen it being at 1-1 when the game had only been five minutes in. I was grateful for it though.

The second half we were very in it to begin with. Andy Stirling and Lewis Vaughan were starting to get space on the wings and Sam Stanton through the middle. He it was with a fine run made the opportunity for Lewis Vaughan to put us ahead. Dreams of a win in Dundee and arithmetical safety began. It wasn’t the only opportunity of the half, a squared ball was unfortunately behind the inrushing Robert Thomson or he’d have had a tap in.

United didn’t really look threatening but suddenly scored out of the blue. Sadly for Alan Martin it was a save that squirmed away from him to an oncoming attacker that gave them the equaliser.

For the last ten minutes we were under the cosh a bit but throughout the game we had kept our shape really well, the players clearly know what they are to do. A couple of scrambles near our goal line and then a bit of holding the ball up near their corner flag and the ref blew for full time.

All the players and staff came to applaud the Sons fans in the away end amid much acclaim for their efforts.

A draw at Tannadice is a great result for the Sons. I think it’s the best one we’ve had there since they got promoted from the old Division Two in the late 1950s. And we’ve taken seven points out of a possible twelve from United this season. Amazing.

Fingers crossed for a survival Saturday at the weekend.

Hibernian 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Easter Road, 18/3/17

I’d have taken this result before kick-off, but given we were twice in the lead and all three teams below us managed to win, it somehow feels more like two points dropped rather than one gained. It was a great performance by the lads just the same, every single one of them putting a shift in. There’s no doubt Hibs are a better team with better players but they failed to carve us open anything like consistently and we deserved the draw. The occasion was also livened up by the “Swiss Sons” – on their annual visit – keeping up their usual bouts of chanting; some in a language which I could not decipher.

Hibs had a lot of possession first half but not much in the way of efforts on goal to show for it whereas we had two Andy Stirling shots; unfortunately he snatched at them and they went wild. He it was though who was the subject of a wild swipe by one of their defenders. From where I was way up the other end it looked about two yards outside the box but the ref gave a penalty. I have since seen a still photo on Pie and Bovril which seems to show the contact was made inside, so fair dos. We don’t often get freebies from refs anyway. Big Christian Nade stepped up and slotted it home. We navigated the rest of the first half with not much problem. During half time I offered the opinion that Hibs could, just possibly, be given a soft penalty.

The expected onslaught at the beginning of the second half didn’t quite materialize and we had a fair bit of possession but they did gradually ramp it up. Alan Martin made a great save from a thumped effort but they eventually scored when a cross seemed to be knocked on to Daniel Harvie by Martin’s touch and rebounded into the net.

We might have expected there to be only one way traffic from then on but we did occasionally sally up the park and a long ball was met perfectly by Nade to guide it into the path of Robert Thomson whose movement had taken him into space and he swept it past the keeper (whose positioning seemed to me to be too far to the left of his goal; but hey-ho.)

Then drama. The predicted soft penalty for Hibs duly arrived but Alan Martin made a magnificent save. A lead still to defend. Unfortunately a long ball to the edge of our box resulted in a mix-up between an attacker, David Smith and Alan Martin where Martin failed to collect the ball when he might have been favourite. I’ve seen fouls against the keeper given on such occasions but 2-1 up at Easter Road against Hibs? Perhaps too much to hope for. Despite Smith’s efforts the attacker managed to get it into the net. We survived a barrage of corners throughout and made it to the end with Hibs not ever really looking likely to score again.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that while he’s still a presence Nade’s legs have gone. He can still hold the ball up but if opponents crowd him he doesn’t often get it away to a team mate. He’s a nuisance to defenders still though.

Days like this, a draw away at a big club, beating the odds, are what makes being a fan of a wee team worthwhile. They don’t come round that often and are relished all the more when they do. It’s just a pity that the overall reward was slipping a place in the league. Next Saturday’s game at Ayr assumes greater importance now.

Dunfermline Athletic 5-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, East End Park, 4/3/17.

What can I say about a shambles like this? We were awful from the start. Apart from a Robert Thomson effort from very long range in the first few minutes – well saved by the keeper – we didn’t worry them at all till late in the first half by which time we were two down and Stuart Carswell had walked off the pitch with a bloody nose after a “disagreement” with Mark Docherty on losing the second goal.

Misplaced passes, failed interceptions, overcommitting, lack of communication: had we trained together at all at any time before today?

Andy Stirling did manage an effort on target and then the keeper made another save from a Robert Thomson header and the David Smith follow up just before half time. A goal for us then might have improved things – but then again it might not.

Dunfermline’s pressing had pretty well smothered us and ours was ineffective at best.

The second half was even worse, only a Christian Nade header well over the bar to show until our goal near the end – and all the while our defence was parting like the Red Sea. Marking was non-existent and three of their goals were very similar close range headers.

I hadn’t believed it would be possible for us to give a worse defensive performance than our last one at this venue in the first league game this season but I was wrong.

Daniel Harvie’s late goal after a brilliant back-heel from Garry Fleming was no consolation though Harvie enjoyed it.

Christian Nade looks very lacking in pace and fitness and seems mostly to want to procure fouls – which refs are unwilling to give.

I hope the wheels haven’t come off the bus but we looked totally lost in this game.

That contretemps between Docherty and Carswell needs resolving quickly and boots up several backsides are in order.

We were sprightly and incisive last week at Falkirk but didn’t look anything like the same team in this one.

Next week’s game is now huge.

Falkirk 2-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Falkirk Stadium, 25/2/17.

The referee was Mat Northcroft again.

Despite that – and his usual baffling decisions – it was a decent enough game, even if both teams weren’t quite at it.

Falkirk didn’t really threaten much in the first half. We forced a few corners early on but fell out of it a bit. Their goal may have been a fluke. Their left back was played in and hit it on the volley from where it looped over Alan Martin’s outstretched hand and into the net.

Our equaliser was a peach and came within a minute. Lewis Vaughan picked up the ball and ran at their defence, evading three men before dodging into the box and thumping it across Danny Rogers into the top corner. Honours even at half-time.

Our second ended up a mirror image of our first. Christian Nade chased down a ball in midfield, dispossessed the Falkirk player and played it to Andy Stirling who proceeded to waltz past defenders and then despatch it past Rogers the opposite way to Vaughan. Beautiful stuff.

Unfortunately we couldn’t keep the lead though there was a hint of offside about their equaliser. They did have the ball in the net again but that offside was given and we cleared a shot off the line. They had a looping effort that hit the outside frame of the goal and Daniel Harvie’s header from a corner also hit their bar.

A draw was just about right and a point was more than I expected from the game. It’s awfully tight just above the play-off places though.

Raith Rovers 1-3 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Starks Park, 28/1/17.

What an odd set of emotions this evoked. We won and I’m still raging at the referee.

We had the better of the first half, Robert Thomson and Sam Stanton had good efforts on target and I was beginning to think we might regret not scoring when on top. I didn’t expect to lose a blatantly illegal goal. Daniel Harvie was shoved over by the forward in the build-up – how the ref and stand-side assistant missed it is beyond belief – and the subsequent cross was converted. 1-0 down at half-time having played well with nothing to show for it I feared the worst.

Second half we started brightly and got the goal when Christian Nade headed in from a cross. Then the second decision under the Val McDermid stand that was criminal. Andy Stirling cut inside the fullback and looked to be scythed down in the box. even if there was no contact he was taking avoiding action from the lunge and that still makes it a penalty. No penalty. Andy Stirling got booke dfor “diving”. Why would he have dived? He wouldn’t have gone over in that position if not fouled. It definitely was not a dive. No-one dives at that angle. It was a pen and a sending off. That decision could have cost us. In many a game it would have. Today though Raith weren’t up to much.

Our second was a thing of beauty. A piece of intricate passing up the right seemed to have got us up a blind alley but the ball was suddenly switched over to the left and Daniel Harvie steamed onto the ball, took a few paces and lamped it into the far corner.

Six minutes later we made it three. A low corner looked to be a wasted one but it evaded everybody and reached Gregor Buchanan beyond the far post and his shot crashed in.

We saw out the rest of the game with not much trouble and Sons’ 87 fans making a noise fit for many more.

Those two decisions weren’t the only bad ones in the game but I can’t recall any iffy ones the ref made going in our favour including loads where he let things go which he should have pulled back for a foul for us. At one point he and the assistant stared at each other for seconds not knowing what to give. Eventually it went Raith’s way, of course. But those two in particular had been so appalling that even though we were winning somehow I still felt we weren’t and had been robbed. It is apparently not the first game this ref has given baffling decisions mostly against us. Let us name the guilty man. Mat Northcroft.

Christmas Presents

One from each of my sons.

A slipcased and delightfully illustrated Folio Society edition of Frank Herbert’s Dune plus a Savile Rogue football scarf in the colours of the mighty Sons, Dumbarton FC.

Christmas Presents

Football Scarf

Folio Society Edition of Dune
Spine of Folio Society Edition of Dune

Back in the Day

I was in a junk/second hand warehouse place today and spotted an issue of Goal magazine.

Thumbing through it I came across the Sons’ league placing that week in November 1973.

Eighth. In the top Division.

Those were the days, eh? I believe we finished tenth that season.

The previous Saturday’s results were given towards the end. Dumbarton 3-0 Motherwell.

The Sons team was given as Williams, C McAdam, Wilkinson, Menzies, Cushley, Ruddy, Coleman, Wallace, McCormack, Patterson, Heron. John Bourke came on as a sub for Peter Coleman and Johnny Graham for Brian Heron. Scorers were Heron, Bourke and McCormack.

I must have been at this match (I was a season ticket holder at the time) but confess I can’t really remember it. Unless that was the day John Bourke scored his first goal for the club which was a thumping header from a corner at the Turnberry End of Boghead.

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