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Porto

I couldn’t help recognising the scene in this photo from Saturday’s Guardian Review:-

Porto

It was illustrating an ensemble piece about various writers’ relationship with Europe.

The photo brought back memories of that wonderful trip we took down (and up) the River Douro from just that jetty in the picture and which I featured in this post:-

aBuildings 20 yacht  river bank

And this one:-

Porto Buildings from Bank of River Douro

Curiously an item on Reporting Scotland on Thursday? night about the trip of Rangers to Porto for a Europa League* game also showed scenes of the same jetty. Synchronicity.

*So-called.

Alan Gilzean

So Alan Gilzean, whom Jimmy Greaves said was the greatest foootballer he had ever played with, has gone.

I never saw him play in the flesh, his time in Scotland being before I started watching football regularly and he was in any case in a different division to Dumbarton but he was a byword for accomplishment.

Before his move down south to Tottenham Hotspur Gilzean played for a great Dundee team, so great it won the championship of Scotland in 1962 and a year later reached the semi-finals of the European Cup. That was, of course, in the time when other Scottish clubs could compete almost on a level playing field with the two Glasgow giants. That success came in a remarkable 17 years when Hibernian (1948, 1951, 1952,) Aberdeen (1955,) (Hearts 1958, 1960,) Dundee (1962) and Kilmarnock (1965) became Scottish Champions. An incredible sequence: between the wars only Motherwell, in 1932, had broken the monopoly of Rangers and Celtic on the League Championship and subsequently only Aberdeen (1984, 1985) and Dundee United (1983) have performed the feat.

The power of money and the lucrative nature of European competition for the big two brought all that to an end. We’re unlikely to see anything like it again.

I’ve strayed somewhat from the point.

Gilzean was a great player, one whose movement on the pitch (from televisual evidence) was deceptively effortless looking, he seemed to glide over the ground in that way that only accomplished players manage to achieve. His scoring record isn’t too mean either; 169 in 190 games for Dundee, 93 in 343 for Spurs, 1 in 3 for the Scottish League and 12 in 22 for Scotland.

Alan John Gilzean: 22/10/1938 – 8/7/2018. So it goes.

Dumbarton 2-1 Rangers Under 20s

Scottish Challenge Cup*, The Rock, 16/8/17.

The good news is that we actually won a Challenge Cup game (and a first “proper” game this season.) The bad news is it was against a team that shouldn’t be in the competition in the first place.

I am of the opinion (shared with many fans of smaller clubs) that the inclusion of “Colts” teams in this cup is a stalking horse for introducing them to the league system, an innovation which would the destroy the SPFL lower leagues as a meaningful competition.

If the “big” clubs want their younger players to develop why not play them in the first team, or bring back their reserve league, or loan them out to other clubs as happens at the moment? I know in Spain, for example, “reserve” teams are allowed in the league at a lower level but in Scotland there is only the short-lived and quickly scrapped C Division in the late 1940s and early 1950s in which such participation was allowed. It is simply not part of our footballing culture and would only contribute to the further disregarding of the smaller clubs – whose interests are routinely not taken into account by the authorities, swayed as they are by the influence of the most supported clubs. In any case there is no way in which Scotland could ever in the future resemble Spain in footballing terms.

In the next round Sons have the unusual prospect of a game against a Welsh club, Connah’s Quay Nomads. I don’t know if we’ve ever played a Welsh club before, certainly not in a competitive match.

*Officially the Irn Bru Cup

Fixtures

The league fixtures for next season have come out.

It might seem ridiculous given Hearts and Rangers have gone from this division but every year it just looks harder.

I don’t like the fact we’re facing Dunfermline at their place for the first game. They ought to be on a high after promotion. Mind you, what sort of form either side might be in after the League Cup section games is anyone’s guess. Their group looks reasonably tough.

Rangers 2-3 Hibernian

Scottish Cup Final, Hampden Park, 21/5/2106

And so the long running saga of Hibs not winning the Cup has ended. Well, I did suggest this might happen.

Looking at the chances created and shots saved you have to say the result was the correct one. But it did look like Hibs had Hibsed it when they went 2-1 down. Rangers didn’t press their advantage though. Maybe they Rangersed it.

Hibernian 4-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Easter Road Stadium, 26/4/16.

Not a surprising outcome given the balance of incentives.

I wonder if manager Stevie Aitken would have “rested” those he did had we needed a result. As it is our outside chance of finishing in 7th place has vanished. But 8th was the target and we’re there.

It’s even more annoying that we didn’t get anything from Rangers this season now that Livingston have beaten them. Unfortunately we played them when they had something to play for.

Party time for the away fans at Alloa on Sunday I should think. (Its traditional for Sons fans to turn up in fancy dress gear for the last away game.)

Dumbarton 2-3 Raith Rovers

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 16/4/16.

It started well. It finished; well…..

Pity about the bit in between. And the injury to big Christian Nade is a blow as we’ve only looked a team this season after he joined us.

I watched this courtesy of BBC Alba of course and things were looking okay at half time. Tom Walsh had even hit a good cross!

What happened in the second half though? We totally fell out of it even before Nade’s injury. Jamie Ewings didn’t have much of a hope with any of the three goals; a poorish kick-out led to one of them but the defence should still not have let Raith through so easily. They seemed to just walk through for two of the three, the other coming from a not deep enough clearance by Fraser Wright.

Despite never having hit a decent cross before this game Tom Walsh ended this with two assists, and doesn’t Steven Saunders love a goal against Raith? Too little too late of course.

We really need something from Saturday now but a draw against St Mirren might not be good enough. We don’t want to be relying on Rangers and Raith even if Queen of the South do the needful.

I note that with Rangers and Hibs progressing to this year’s final East Fife’s record of being the only team outwith the top division to win the Scottish Cup has now been lost. And wouldn’t it be just the thing if Hibs finally win the thing again after totally horsing up the league? (Or Hibsing it as now seems to be the parlance.)

Mind you it’d be a laugh to see them navigating a European campaign from the second tier.

Then again maybe not.

Rangers 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Ibrox Stadium, 5/4/16.

I meant to post about this yesterday but for some reason it slipped my mind.

This could have been worse. Given the significance of the evening for Rangers we could have been in for a doing and I feared that. I also feared the outcome even more when Livi went one up on Hibs, but that went our way as well in the end.

But how can a team go from an abject surrender to Queen of the South to what seems to have been a resolute performance against the best team in the division? Unless, of course the players tried harder on a bigger stage: but that would be a form of cheating all the other times.

Queen of the South up next on Tuesday, but we could be a point behind Livi by then.

On a more cynical note: how long will it be after Hibs get back to the top tier once again before we in the lower leagues are cut off once more (as we were by the SPL)? That’s the subtext I read into this “good for Scottish football” spiel which has greeted Rangers Tier 2 win. The way things were was only good for two clubs, not Scottish football as a whole.

Dumbarton 0-0 Morton

SPFL Tier 2, The Rock, 2/4/16.

Well. It’s as you were in the league what with all five games being draws but the failure of Rangers to win means they have an even bigger incentive to beat us on Tuesday night as that will make them champions. They might not have to beta us if Hibs don’t win – but that’s a situation I wouldn’t like as then Livingston would have avoided defeat against them; on which point thanks to Alloa for getting the draw (which sadly wasn’t enough to prevent them being relegated.)

It’s all getting far too tense. It’s possible, if results go against us, that by the time we play Queen of the South on the 12th we could be four points behind Livi with a much worse goal difference; very much worse if our usual Ibrox thumping takes palce..

St Mirren 1-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, St Mirren Park, 20/2/16.

Looking at the team sheet it’s not surprising we lost this. Not a striker to be seen in the starting line-up.

It’s still disappointing as we could have done with drawing this but at least the two teams below us lost too.

Seems the best we can hope for now is eighth. (I’d take that right now, though.)

The Cup game at Dundee is something of a freebie. The attraction of playing Rangers at Ibrox should we get through lies only in the share of gate money we’d receive, though. Our record against them is dire. A bit like against Gretna.

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