Saturday, 24 April 2010

Almost at the final frontier

First published in Sons View, 24 April 2010, Dumbarton -v- Arbroath

It’s been said that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t. I’m very much in the latter category. Life is glorious, mixed-up and unpredictable. And that’s before we even get to football, let alone Dumbarton FC’s 2009-10 season.

Mind you, football fans might still constitute an exception to my general refusal to think about human beings in binary opposites. Because let’s face it, when we’re not being misguided optimists, we’re being mildly (or extremely) irritating pessimists.

Don’t let the ones who pretend to be aloof and reserved fool you, either. They’re just confused, or pretending they’re viewing things from an imagined loftier height. They may say, “I’ll wait and see”, but their guts are secretly grumbling “we can still do it” or “we’re scuppered”. Possibly both.

According to my ‘pastry theory’ of football satisfaction, that’s why so many pies get consumed in grounds up and down the country. It’s the only sure way of quelling that unstoppable lurching of the stomach between victory and defeat. The one that announces an impending kick-off.

In short, show me someone who’s indifferent to the careless swings of semi-rational expectation which accompany the build-up to any match involving their team, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t really love the game… or wishes to dear life that they didn’t!

Besides, this has hardly been a season for the even-tempered. Last week, Sons visited league leaders Alloa Athletic and stunned them with a Winters and Wyness powered 2-1 victory that kept the play-off hopes alive. Just. Unfortunately, Brechin City forgot to lose for a second week in a row, while Dumbarton had previously managed to claim only one point from the bottom-placed side in a six-goal SHS thriller. Frankly, many of us would have settled for a boring 1-0 win.

But, that, as they say, is football – and this is the last chance saloon. Or at least, it is if Brechin didn’t win at home to the Blue Brazil on Tuesday. If they did, it’s consolation time. Me? I’m writing in anticipation that all is still to play for – that like the General Election we are all loving, hating or not caring two hoots about at present, the final verdict on the Sons’ first year back in SFL Division Two will go down to the wire.

In theory (which has counted for little this term) two straight wins against Arbroath and Clyde ought to be well within Dumbarton’s grasp. But given our inferior goal difference, that would still leave us needing the men from Angus to claim no more than two points against Cowdenbeath again (away) and Stirling Albion (home). Then we could still be fighting for a First Division spot in August.

Well, it would be mathematically possible, but even if the result on 20 April went our way, you’d have to be solidly in the reckless optimism camp to think it’s actually going to happen. Oh, go on then: the Hedgemen have been inconsistent, they’ll be anxious about Sons staring up their rear (so to speak!), and they’re facing two sides still in contention for an automatic promotion spot. There, solid reasons why they might fluff . Believe me? Thought not. Ah, but you still hesitated, didn’t you? We all want to think the dream is possible. Therefore, however tenuous, it is.

Meanwhile, if the dust has not settled, the Sons will need all their Rock-like qualities today and next week, because the worst of all outcomes would surely be that Brechin do indeed gain only two points by the final whistle next Saturday, while Sons have thrown theirs away needlessly. Please, no.

Ah well, later tonight we can forget our cares for a bit and enjoy the end of season dinner dance and awards ceremony. See you there, I hope. A few months ago I was contemplating an extra ‘exiles’-sponsored Personality of the Season award. But that’s a plan still waiting to be hatched.

My own vote would have gone not to an individual, but for everyone involved in the Sonstrust, not least the hard working people on the committee and Trust director Alan Findlay. Heroes, one and all. Thanks also to the gaffer, the players, the staff and all involved in running and supporting the club.

It seems a long way back, but after the triumph of the Third Division Championship we were hit as hard as we could be by the tragic loss of Gordon Lennon. Today we remember him again, and we’ll go on remembering – by going forward, together. Let’s hope for a little football magic this afternoon, too. That would be appropriate.

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