Saturday, 20 February 2010

Building the next generation

First published in Sons View, 20 March 2010, Dumbarton -v- Clyde - MATCH POSPONED

So the New Year transfer window has come and gone. For many smaller clubs who live as much by loans as by purchases (because they simply don’t have the cash to splash) this is always a strange period in the football calendar.

With the recession biting hard at budgets, the market has turned over more slowly than ever at the beginning of 2010, and even the big boys have been limited in their transfer adventures.

Now managing at Bolton, one of the smaller EPL contenders, ex-Dumbarton man Owen Coyle is among those who have complained again about the system. Even if you can afford to spend, he says, “When clubs pick up injuries and suspensions in the transfer window, you end up top heavy with players.”

Summer is where the majority of the horse-trading is done now, unless your team is in desperate trouble after Christmas. And in the lower reaches of the Scottish game the “emergency loan” has come into its own for dealing with that.

Here at the Rock we have recently seen the fruits of trying to live on a limited outlay, but with a forward-looking and creative edge. Much of the media publicity has inevitably been taken up with the signing of Dennis Wyness – whose SPL and First Division credentials have been creating hopeful expectations among Sons supporters, too.

An injection of firepower and guile up front is just what Chappie ordered for what is going to be a demanding and exciting run-in to the ‘stop-start season’. We have plenty of fixtures backed up, and as well as securing the defensive line and getting the midfield moving, a cutting edge will certainly be needed around the area to secure the goals and points we need. That isn’t about one player, but finding the man who can help the attacking jigsaw fit together.

For a club like Dumbarton, quality players who are into their thirties but still have a lot to offer a little further down the SFL can be a lifeline. A respected manager, a good set up and strong desire from players, fans, Trust and boardroom makes the Sons attractive to those who have arguably lost a tiny bit of youthful pace, but whose skill and ambition is as strong as ever.

Equally important, however, and more so in the long run, is the cultivation of youth. The current squad has six ‘graduate’ youngsters in first team pool, and three of them (Alan Cook, Dale McSorley, and Liam Mushet) have already been picked for international duty at Under-18s level. That’s really good going.

Dumbarton Football Club now possesses a very well organised youth policy, and it is clearly paying dividends. The signings prove that. Only a few days ago, Sons under-19s also produced a stunning performance at Glenhead Park, winning 4-0 against East Stirlingshire.

The endeavours of the coaching staff and volunteers deserve a huge round of applause from all of us. During some of the enforced winter break, Jim Chapman has also impressed people in community with his dedication to encouraging the youngsters. But none of this could have happened without an immense amount of effort on the part of people in the Sonstrust.

I’m proud to be a member of the Trust, though I live too far away to be much involved (other than in print, with a bit of money, and by encouragement). However, this also means I can blow a trumpet for those responsible without being accused of praising myself!

That said, all who have joined the Trust and supported it in one way or another share at least a tiny part of the credit for the Youth Development Initiative – though the lion’s share should go to the people who make it work week in and week out.

So if you haven’t handed over your Sonstrust membership fee (it’s only a tenner!) or bought into one of the fundraising events – like the fantastic Comedy Dinner on 27 March – now is a great opportunity to do so. Tommy Hughes or anyone on the Trust table in the Community Suite will be pleased to have your custom. Or go online to the Trust site.

Meanwhile, we have important business on the park today against Clyde to attend to. The fact that we are playing the side rooted to the foot of the Second Division at the moment should fool no-body. It’ll be a tough encounter and another chance for Sons to build their 2010 surge.

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