Saturday, 24 November 2007

True colours shining through

First published in Sons View, 24 November 2007, Dumbarton -v- Berwick - Scottish Cup.

Yup, those words are indeed from a sappy Cyndi Lauper song that hit the charts 21 years ago. Earlier in 2007 it was revived for a human rights gig and tour featuring Deborah Harry and Erasure. That’s good, and maybe it’s one of your favourites (in which case I apologise for being so disparaging), but I ask you: “True colours are beautiful, like a rainbow”? Per-leese

Still, at least no one’s going to get hurt. Which is more than can be said when I troop around in the true colours that really matter – the Sons’ stirring yellow and black uniform. By the way, is it yellow or is it gold this season? What’s the proper term for our shining shirts of virtue? I don’t really know, but as far as I’m concerned The Famous DFC never goes out of fashion.

Anyway, my problem is that I don’t wear my Dumbarton scarf, fleece and (occasionally, when I’m feeling really gauche) first team shirt only at SHS or in approved areas at away games. That’s mainly because I live miles away in exile and most of the time I have to make do with football in England.

It’s nowhere near as much fun as cheering the Sons, of course, but I enjoy my season ticket outings with Exeter City, who play in red, black and white. However, just occasionally I feel an unstoppable urge to fly the Sons’ flag, keeping me in touch with my spiritual footballing home. When that happens, I grab a DFC scarf and wrap it proudly round my neck before heading to St James’ Park.

All well and good. But it is useful, I have discovered, to do a little Internet checking just to make sure what colour away strip the opposition will be turning up in. This I endeavour to do, though some of my investigative efforts this season have proved a bit rubbish. With near disastrous consequences.

Oxford United is easy. Like Exeter, they used to play in the League proper and now languish in the Blue Square Premier, otherwise known as the Conference, aka pretend League Three, aka the Fifth Division in England. This means they are a known quantity. Besides, though the U’s turn out at home in the Dumbarton strip of 1985-6 (sad that I know that, huh?), I’m well aware that they play away in blue. My DFC scarf, happily, stays firmly on my shoulders.

Grays Athletic is a trickier proposition, though. Who, you ask? Well, quite. They hail from Essex and have stormed up the echelons of ‘the pyramid’ (as the lower league structure gets dubbed), so their away colours are not exactly etched onto even my fairly suggestible football mind. When Exeter played them a few weeks ago, I was in the mood to wear one of my Dumbarton scarves, and plumped for black and yellow.

Being a wise and cowardly fellow, I had taken the precaution of looking at a few Grays away pics on the web, and was assured that they had turned out in all-red attire. No problem there, I figured. Wrong. Faulty research; or, rather, duff calculation. The Grecians (as Exeter are called – it’s a long and rather inconclusive story) play in red and black, right? So an away team are unlikely to be allowed to waltz onto the pitch in, er, red. Correct.

Guess what colours they turned up in, then? Right first time, a kit pretty much identical to the Sons’ home strip for 1991/92 – and to the piece of knitwear hanging round my throat as I ambled towards my seat in the home stand. I got some decidedly odd looks, but figured out why just in time. I felt bad about consigning my Dumbarton identity to my shoulder bag, but calculated that me versus 3,700 Exeter fanatics wasn’t great odds.

Where things went even further awry was against the titans of Ebbsfleet United. On away trips they wear the 2004/05 to 2005/06 Dumbarton home strip. Plus I saw them the week after a fortnight in Scotland and two visits to SHS. Not only did I nearly get caught again with yellow and black about my person, but Ebbsfleet looked so like Dumbarton that every time they pulled off a nifty move it was all I could do to stop myself roaring approval.

Cyndi Lauper is correct. Your true colours do come shining through. Mine, without a shadow of doubt, are those of the Sons.

(Simon Barrow says his wife loves him in a DFC shirt, but he’s lying.)

No comments: