The journey to Balmoor (capacity 4,000 – 1,000 seated, it says optimistically in my ground guide) turned out to be a 330 mile round trip – my earlier iPhone-fuelled calculation having proved exaggerated. It was not without incident. No, I didn’t say ‘excitement’, I said ‘incident’. When events on the field are as they are for Sons at the moment, even a throw-in is ‘one for the diary’. The very same principle applies to the preceding pilgrimage.
Thus the woman in the queue at the Strathcathro motorway café fixed me with her puzzled stare. “Is that a football team?” she asked, pointing to the black and gold crest on my fleece. Given our current plight, a number of possible answers crossed my mind. But as my mouth opened I thankfully found that I had swapped “allegedly” for a rather wan “yes”. She was a stranger, after all. Fitba grief is best kept private in such circumstances.
|Road to nowhere|
Anyway, having been diverted by an earlier accident and bridge closure, I conspired to eek a few more precious seconds from Robbo’s log by forgetting to use the word “takeaway” when ordering two coffees and a tea. Since “latte” hadn’t worked, I guess I figured that crockery wouldn’t come into the equation, either. But I was wrong. So Graeme, Cliffe Jones and I found ourselves socialising briefly with our DFC festooned fellow-sufferers. No-one mentioned the match directly. We kind of knew, I think. My official prediction remained 2-1 to Dumbarton. Well, I got one of those goals right. But not one of ours.
Meanwhile, the growing strangeness of “going north” manifested itself some minutes later, when a keen young driver decided that it would be a good idea to try and overtake us, starting from the slow lane, at about 50 miles an hour in the very small gap between our car and a rather large lorry. Sensible. It turned out to be an L-Plated local Stirling Moss on a comedy death-wish, I think. At times like this I feel glad to be a non-driver. Knowing what’s going on doesn’t really help.
|The look says it all...|
And so to the Peterhead ground. A neat little affair, I must say, with a very friendly bar and social club. Dumbarton director Alan Jardine’s gesture of lunch for a number of us was much appreciated. The vegetarian option was duly negotiated: macaroni cheese, quiche and garlic bread. Delicious, and the Guinness was superbly poured and finished with the traditional shamrock nozzled onto the head. I texted a picture of the delicacy to my beloved’s mobile phone, since I knew she would be amused. “Look, not a veggie in sight!” I observed drolly.
|It went wrong after the warm-up|
Curiously, given the disappointment of yet another defeat, the return journey went quickly. Sleep does that. And we were only three minutes off schedule, as I mentioned. Pity about the game.