Saturday, 1 October 2011

Rallying the home support

First published in Sons View, 01 October 2011, Dumbarton -v- Albion Rovers

Last week’s positive display and 2-0 victory away at Forfar Athletic was a real boost for Sons, and we are all hoping that the good work will continue at home against Albion Rovers this afternoon.

If performances at SHS had matched Dumbarton’s away form, we would be sitting comfortably in the play-off promotion zone. As it is, we are at the other end of the table and our aim today is to put a good distance between ourselves and our visitors, to achieve stability at the Rock, and to push upwards.

Today’s game will be our fourth home league outing this season, and astonishingly Sons are still searching for that elusive first point on domestic turf in 2011/12 – having leaked 13 goals during those 270 minutes of football, while scoring just four.

By contrast, we’ve picked up 11 goals and seven points from two wins and a draw in the last three away games – though because of various commitments I’ve unfortunately had to miss them all. I was present for the opener at Airdrie United, but the less said about that one, the better…

The superstitious among my Sons friends have therefore suggested that I should stay away so we stand some chance of getting a good result. On the other hand, people who haven’t quite figured out probability theory reckon that, following three ‘tails’ in a row, a ‘heads’ is now more likely!

The truth is that breaking this particular duck is a football issue, though chance and the fans obviously make a difference. As the cliché has it, “football is a funny game”, and one of its abiding curiosities is that the familiar territory of your own stadium can prove the toughest arena of all to get things right.

Why? Well, sometimes there are factors at play which have little bearing on the location, like injuries, flukes, refereeing decisions, tactical changes and the sheer quality of the opposition.

Even so, the level of expectation is inevitably ratcheted up on home soil. The team is playing in front of a majority of its own supporters, and – let’s face it – home fans can be the first to get on your back (“not least at Dumbarton!” I hear some of you crying).

So today the men in gold will definitely be wanting some verbal encouragement from you, even (perhaps especially) if things are not going Sons’ way on the field.

Ironically, just a handful of away supporters can make much more noise than a significantly larger local crew. It’s healthy lungs and the solidarity of being an embattled minority that makes the difference. Today we need to reverse that.

Having been out on the pitch for 70 minutes myself, during the Play for the Sons match, I know that you pick up a good deal of what’s shouted. So it would be great if we could all make it positive this afternoon, following the fantastic example of many of our younger fans.

I have an additional reason to be looking forward to this game, because the Match Ball Sponsorship has been taken out on behalf my wonderful parents-in-law from the USA, Willard and Alice Roth. I have no doubt that the traditional Scottish hospitality will be extended to them.

As someone once put it, neither Alice nor Willard “know one end of a football from the other”, but I think they’ll recognise a goal if (when) Sons get a few, and sampling the local food and drink is bound to go down well.

Let’s hope we’re feeling content at the end of 90 minutes, too. ’Mon Sons!


Albion Rovers are ten years younger than Dumbarton, having been founded in Coatbridge in 1882. Our history has been well entwined with the Wee Rovers; particularly during the time we shared Cliftonhill as part of the transition from Boghead to the Rock, and in the recent managerial figures of Paul Martin and Jim Chapman.

In 2009/10 Albion missed a promotion play-off position by a single point. Last term they put that right, earning promotion to the Second Division by beating Queen’s Park and then Annan Athletic to escape the Third Division.

I saw the first leg of their play-off semi-final at Hampden, and they looked a determined, well-organised outfit. As with Sons, it has been a difficult start to the new season for Rovers, but they don’t intend to be tourists at this level.

Over the years Albion’s major honours have been wins in the old and new Second Divisions (the second and third tiers respectively), incidentally.

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