First published in Sons View, 27 March 2010, Dumbarton -v- Peterhead
Following the crunch midweek clash with Stenousemuir on Tuesday night, the manic March action continues at Strathclyde Homes Stadium today with the second visit of the season from the small but vocal Blue Toon army.
Back in December the Sons claimed a 1-0 victory over Peterhead, thanks to a Scott Chaplain goal. But away from home in Aberdeenshire things have not gone so well for us – with two 2-1 defeats in a row, the last at Balmoor on a cold Tuesday night at the beginning of the month.
This afternoon’s action on the pitch will be followed later in the evening by some fun and celebrations off it, with the sell-out comedy dinner raising funds and spirits in equal measure. I’d hoped to make it myself, especially as my 52nd birthday falls in three days hence. But the promise I’d made to the family was I’d only fork out yet more dosh to follow the Sons in March if there was a rescheduled game on the 30th – which unfortunately from my point of view (and very happily for the players and staff, I’m sure!) there isn’t.
Still, I did get up to see two good performances and one fine win against Alloa Athletic and Brechin City on the 6th and the 9th, so I can’t complain. As a result of that visit from the wilds of the English midlands I’m now also the proud possessor of a Sons football presented and signed by the very fine people of the Sonstrust and other friends at Dumbarton. It was cutely dedicated to my ‘hat-trick of postponements’ – the three games I made the haul to see that got called off due to the Big Freeze.
The match ball sponsorship I was planning to celebrate 40 years last December as a Sons fan will now have to wait till next term, however. Talking of which, if you and some friends, work colleagues or family haven’t thought of taking that package before, why not have a word with the industrious Alan Findlay about it? A great day out, a bargain, and funds to back the Club. The perfect combination.
My ‘trio ball’ now has pride of place amidst the bookshelves at home, of course. When I was given it, someone in the Community Suite wryly commented, “Ah well, at least someone’s got a hat-trick for Dumbarton then!” Aye, and wouldn’t it be even better if one of those could be earned by a Sons striker on the pitch today. Yes, I know, “a win would do well enough”, but you never hit high by aiming low.
Indeed, it seems to a number of us who have been observing the Sons’ fortunes from near and far this season that the lads are owed a few more goals to honour their endeavours. In a number of games there have been periods of solid possession, domination and flair – combined with the frustrating inability to get the ball into that square of turf between the posts when it’s really needed.
It’s a commonplace of football wisdom that if you keep playing well, things will come right for you in terms of goals and results in the end. That’s often true, but equally when the end product is diminished you have to keep trying out new things to make the key work. Not dramatic changes necessarily, but little twists and variations.
Everyone has a theory about this kind of thing, naturally. Managers know more than most that if the outcome is favourable, their tactical switches will probably be seen in a good light, and if not they will be condemned as hapless or misguided. A wise-cracker once remarked: “Scientists reckon that seven out of ten ideas don’t work. Fair enough. So why don’t we just use the three that do!”
Ah, if only life was like that… wouldn’t it be boring and short. The gap between what works in theory and what works in practice, what you intend and how it actually turns out, is just one of the infinite number of variables that makes football the inspiring, annoying, wonderful, infuriating game we all love it for being. And that’s well before we factor in the particular joys and jolts of following Dumbarton.
Overall, then, I’m sure this is a game we can win. I thought that about the Stenny match too. You have to go on believing – especially when the ingredients for a positive ending to 2009-10 are clearly there. Whatever the outcome today I’ll be raising a birthday toast to the Sons from The Far Post this coming Tuesday. A win and a few goals would make that drink even sweeter – and possibly longer.