Saturday, 19 December 2009

Seeking a bit of festive cheer

First published in Sons View, 19 December 2009, Dumbarton -v- Alloa Athletic - POSTPONED DUE TO A FROZEN PITCH

Ask any Dumbarton fan what they want for Christmas and it’s a fair bet that a haul of points from our next three games against Alloa Athletic, Clyde and Stenhousemuir will be high up the list – especially after the bitterly disappointing start to the Festive season at SHS last Saturday.

Sons’ performance against East Fife, which denied us the possibility of slipping into the Division Two play-off places and battered our goal difference by three, will have been thoroughly dissected in the dressing room before that tough trip to take on the high-flying Binos on Tuesday night.

I hate to say it, but it could have been worse. Over in Germany, while the Sons were being whipped by the Fifers, Hanover 96 managed to score six goals and still lose by two to Borussia Moenchengladbach. They did this by putting three into their own net. The moral for us long-suffering fans is that there’s always someone with more to moan about than you!

At this time of year, though, we’re all trying to look on the bright side. So what we need for these two home games is some loud seasonal cheering for the Mighty DFC, and a couple of Rock-like performances on the home pitch – which will hopefully hold up against the vagaries of the weather.

I’m especially keeping my fingers crossed for Alloa, as my last visit from down south was for the game against Peterhead that got called off at the last minute. Not that it was wasted. There was plenty of socialising to brighten a damp afternoon, and it was a special privilege to meet Sons goalkeeping legend Laurie Williams – a fine man, as well as a fantastic servant of the Club.

This month I’m celebrating 40 years as a Dumbarton supporter. I’ve just figured out that it’s only another eight before I get to apply for my concessionary bus pass, too… though it’ll probably be changed from 60 to 65 by the time I arrive, and it won’t quite propel me to the Rock on a routine basis unless I can wheedle a relocation to Scotland.

Quite a number of you will have a purchased Sons’ third strip this season, and there may even be a few being delivered by Santa. I recently splashed out on a Toffs ‘classic’ white + single gold-and-black hoop 1970s home shirt – also the design for the 1997-8 away strip, if I recall correctly.

It really is an attractive design. I admit that I prefer the one without advertising (sorry Ballantyne’s, I’d better be quaffing you later!), and mine has an additional feature: ‘Barrow’ and a number 9 on the back. This should enable you to spot me more easily in the Community Suite if you fancy a drink or a chat.

On reflection I could have made that number 40, I guess. But the romance of the old-fashioned centre forward is hard to resist. Actually I used to play as a centre back. Fast, not particularly skilled, but able to hassle and harry for all I was worth. Those are the kind of attributes Sons still need (plus the skill and a decent crop of goals, of course) in order to ensure a good finish to the season.

Meanwhile, my mind drifts back to the 1969-70 term. Sons finished 7th in the Second Division and Laurie Williams began his famous Sons career away to Queen of the South on 28 March – two days before my twelfth birthday. The 9 shirt for most of that season was with another legend, Kenny Jenkins, sadly recently departed.

Kenny had been a centre forward at his previous club – Alloa Athletic, as it happens – and started in that role for Sons, before switching to right back the next season. That was the position he took against Celtic in the famous replayed Scottish League Cup semi-final at Hampden in October 1970. His successor was Roy McCormack, who had stepped in for him at number 9 from mid-January until Laurie’s League debut.

That was then, this is now. Today, the Wasps are more-or-less where Dumbarton would like to be in the second division, while opening up a gulf between ourselves and those below us – including the Bully Wee and the Warriors – has got to be the seasonal priority.

Have a good Christmas, whatever you are doing, and I’m sure our thoughts will especially be with Kelly, Kai and the Lennon family at this time. It’s been a year of triumph, trial and tragedy. Good things for all in 2010, we hope.

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