First published in Sons View, 10 March 2009, Dumbarton -v- Elgin
This evening we welcome to the Rock the team currently in the unenviable position of propping up the entire Scottish Football League. But that will not lead Dumbarton to treat Elgin lightly. After all, Montrose probably thought they would walk away with the points when they travelled north at the end of February, until Jason Crooks’ first goal of the season helped City upset the Gable Endies’ promotion bid.
The Black and Whites have recorded only one win and one draw in ten away matches before their recent games against Albion Rovers and Annan Athletic. The draw was at Berwick. But the win was against high-flyers Cowdenbeath. As for Sons, we dropped two points when we visited Borough Briggs on 9 August last year. Much more is expected here at Strathclyde Homes Stadium if we are to keep our play-off bid alive.
In the programme for our home game against Albion Rovers I was writing about how one way we fans can end up coping with our feelings of powerlessness, especially when the going gets tough, is by crunching numbers and staring at fitba stats. What prompted that thought, as I recall, was sitting at my keyboard in the afternoon watching ‘Countdown’ on the telly. Oh, the joys of being a home-based worker!
Even if you haven’t seen Channel Four’s trademark words-and-figures show in a while, you will probably know that the new host is football presenter Jeff Stelling from Sky Sports, and the new Carol Vorderman (if she’ll forgive me putting it that way) is a smart and attractive young maths grad called Rachel Riley – who also loves the game and has some experience as a goalkeeper.
“Two from the top, please,” said one contestant, staring at the options on the numbers board. “If only”, I thought – contemplating Dumbarton’s quest for glory, before you make any other assumptions. Yes, I know, third or fourth “will suffice” to give us a crack at the play-offs in May. But making do with the least you need to achieve in order to get to the next foothill isn’t what provides the backbone of a serious, sustainable promotion bid.
Even though we have experienced some fit-falls of late, I still believe Sons should continue to aim high (and shoot low). The championship has all but slipped away, but the next best thing is still there, even if it takes a massive effort through to the end of the season to achieve it.
A couple of months ago I passed the aforementioned Jeff Stelling as he was heading into a recording studio. As he was rather evidently in a hurry, I never got the chance to ask him what he thought about Dumbarton’s chances this term (you’d be amazed by what he knows about the game).
Still, I reckon Jeff would have a good notion about the agonies of being a Sons fan. “I’d rather live with Hartlepool than with Haemorrhoids – well, most of the time!” he quipped, after some bit of ‘Countdown’ medical banter last week, involving a Dictionary Corner celebrity doctor.
Talking of which, a win against Elgin City tonight would be just what the GP ordered – if he or she had any concern for the health and wellbeing of hundreds of people in the gold, white and black.
As for me, I’ll be scouring the Internet for Sons news from the other side of the Atlantic over the next couple of weeks, since my plane to the USA took off on Monday. In theory I might have been sharing the berth with David Beckham – though he’d have been in business class because his private jet had developed a technical fault, whereas I took the cheapest option that didn’t involve actually pushing the plane up the runway.
As I write, however, it appears that AC Milan is negotiating a deal whereby Goldenballs may get to stay in Europe until 30 June on loan. Then he would return to Los Angeles for six months and come back to Italy in January 2010. Or maybe not.
Life gets rather complicated if you are a football superstar. But the heart of the game is in places like the Rock. I know that’s a terrible cliché, but it’s true. Give me a choice between SHS and the San Siro and I’d opt for Dumbarton’s home every time. Well, OK, I’d certainly choose Milan once. But you know what I mean. ’Mon Sons!