Saturday, 31 January 2009

Back on planet earth

First published in Sons View, 31 January 2008, Dumbarton -v- Montrose

Though there are still a few days left for the January ’09 transfer window, I think I can now definitively report that Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as AC Milan’s megastar midfielder Kaka, will not be joining Dumbarton Football Club.

It was a close call, though. My Portugese might be even worse than my Spanish (which is going some, I should add), but when I found an email link on the boy wonder’s Brazilian website I couldn’t resist dropping a friendly note to let him know that if “football, not money” really was his goal, the Sons were clearly the best option.

The Mighty DFC have precious little cash for him to worry about right now, I explained, but a decent record in the beautiful game, especially during seasons 1890-1 and 1891-2. We clearly plan to build on those early triumphs.

“Before sending in a question or query, please consult the FAQ to find out if your question has already been answered”, the site helpfully advised. Nothing there about stellar opportunities in lower league Scottish football I duly noted, before pressing the ‘send’ button.

In view of the commercial propriety required of such delicate negotiations, I won’t go into the precise details of the remuneration package mooted in my little-publicised ‘informal approach’ – though it has been rumoured to include a rather good Sons memorabilia discount.

I still haven’t received an official response, but I suspect it took Kaka’s appointed representative (in this case probably the bloke who deals with interminable autograph requests) less than 30 seconds to bin it.

According to the Italian media, that, strange to say, is exactly the number of seconds Kaka took to dismiss Manchester City’s alleged £100 million transfer and £0.5 million-a-week wages offer to move from Milan. Probably while finishing off a quick game on PlayStation.

Now there are some who would say that there’s a world of difference between the curious headhunting activities of the Blues’ new multi-billion dollar owners and a tongue-in-cheek email from a barely solvent Scottish football fan. But they’d be wrong. Both are, in their own way, a bit of a joke. To those of us who still live on planet Earth, at any rate.

Make no mistake, our great game needs cash and business sense to keep it going. But when silly money starts to turn it into a real-time version of Fantasy Football, the wise are well recommended to shake their heads and walk away. This is why the collapse of the Kaka deal (and a few like it that didn’t make the same headlines) is good news.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Rock, the Sons face a testing match against fellow promotion seekers Montrose. The timing of today’s game is both promising and demanding. With two hard-fought victories against Stenhousemuir and Berwick in hand, Dumbarton have a chance to consolidate their place in the play-off zone… but the Gable Endies have an opportunity to begin to overhaul us, too.

On current form, it looks as if Cowdenbeath will pull away at the top of the division, leaving five teams to battle out the three crucial spots below them. But that’s not a foregone conclusion. Annan have been picking up again recently, having apparently run out of steam after a bright start to the season.

The turning point for the new boys was, regrettably, a snatched 2-1 win against us on a damp afternoon back in December. Still, the Galabankies could do us a favour by taking a point or three off the Blue Brazil or Stenny over the next couple of weeks. But that would also mean a tougher challenge to the Sons from them.

Whichever way you look at it, the top of Division Three is highly competitive this year and will remain so. That’s why we cannot readily depend on other sides doing us good turns. Consistent results are required of Dumbarton over the coming weeks, as we face sides in the lower half of the table who we ought to be able to beat, before tackling the current leaders again at Strathclyde Homes Stadium on 7 March.

That “ought to beat” is no presumption, either. It’s a comment on our necessary ambitions, not the opposition. Struggling as they might be, Elgin have already produced a couple of shocks. There are no guarantees in football, whether you’re waving a fat chequebook at Kaka or trying to get into the Scottish Second Division.

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