Sunday, 6 April 2008

When I'm 64

First published in Sons View, 29 March 2008, Dumbarton -v- Stranraer

Some people might choose celebrate their 50th birthday by bungee jumping off the Empire State Building (or trying!), but I prefer to do things in style. That’s why I’m jointly sponsoring today’s match against Stranraer jointly with the Sonstrust, of which I’m a proud member.

Call me mad – go on, you won’t be the first – but there is nowhere else I’d rather be other than the Rock for my half century, which is actually tomorrow, so if I look young it’s ‘cos I still am, OK? Well, Boghead comes to mind, of course. That brings the memories back. But the view from SHS is simply spectacular, even when things are a bit tough on the pitch. Which they won’t be today, I’m sure. Go, boys!

It struck me the other day that when I’m 64, the famous DFC will be 150 years old. That’s right, Dumbarton’s centenary and a half falls in 2022, which not only sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster (“Cruyff Junior shoots… he scores, and the Sons win the Champions League for the second successive season!”), it’s also only 14 years away. Terrifying.

Where will Sons be by then? Who knows. But I’m going to predict the SPL, or whatever it’s called by then. Though not a gambling man, I might even take that one down to betting shop with a tenner. Dafter punts have been won. Plus I’ll then be able to wave this programme around imperiously and yell, “There, I told you so!”

Meanwhile, my brain and fingers decided to take a walk back through history courtesy of the first edition of Jim McAllister’s and Arthur Jones’ official Club history, The Sons of the Rock. I wanted to remind myself what was happening around the time I was born in 1958, and eleven years later when I became a supporter.

In 1957-58 the legendary Hughie Gallacher was in the team, even though he stalled on his contract because he wasn’t sure Sons could get back into League A where he wanted (and deserved) to be playing. A 7-1 drubbing at Shawfield probably didn’t encourage him, in spite of getting the goal. But then he netted four in a 10-3 victory over… Stranraer. The only game post-war when Dumbarton got into double figures. I like to think it might be an omen for this afternoon, even though I don’t believe in omens.

The next year, Sons once again missed promotion by failing to consolidate a positive season with a good run-in. Gallacher scored four against his former side Arbroath at Gayfield, but ended up on the losing team because Dave Easson banged five back against us. I predict a slightly more cautious defensive approach from Jim Chapman and the bench this afternoon. Otherwise the after-game Q&A session might be even more interesting.

Gallacher got another four goals against Hamilton Accies in a 6-3 victory that year, by the way. He won a bonus, DFC scored 370 goals in four seasons without actually getting promoted, and the Club’s first full-time manager, Bobby Combe, came in. I think I’ve got that right. If not, expect a tannoy announcement from Jim in a wee while.

As for 1969, well that was near the start of the Jackie Stewart years, leading to a revival, the famous 0-0 and 3-4 games against Celtic in the Scottish League Cup semis of 1970, and eventually promotion as Second Division Champions in 1972. Heck, the man even signed Davie Wilson and had a go at getting my boyhood football idol Denis Law. Those indeed were the days.

But this is now. Things are tougher for Sons, but we’ll get there. Not least because of fantastic fans and a great Trust. In particular, I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to editor Graeme Robertson, to Denise Currie (who keeps me up with the score via her texts), to Alan Findlay (who got me into the Trust with his great hospitality a few years ago), to Tommy Hughes (Mr eBay), to Tim Rhead (for making Dumbarton the first British club to hold a match in support of Amnesty International)… and to my wife, Carla Roth.

Carla deserves a plug for two reasons. First, she doesn’t like publicity. Second, she never really knew that I was a Sons fan when she married me, nor quite what that would mean, poor woman. Ah, well she’ll have a great afternoon at the Rock, I’m sure. You too, I hope. ‘Mon, Sons!

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