Friday 18th September 2015

IT’S already a big enough day for Dumbarton tomorrow.

They’re taking on Ladbrokes SPFL Championship leaders Rangers in front of a capacity crowd at what is now the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.

And if they get a result, what a way it will be to round off a third century of games at their home ground.

For tomorrow’s game is Sons’ 300th competitive fixture at the stadium beside Dumbarton Rock, where they will also mark 15 years later this season.

The arena has seen everything, including three promotions. Match number 32, a 1-1 draw at home to Queen’s Park, sealed the first in 2002.

To all intents and purposes the second was clinched in the 170th game at the stadium, a 6-0 victory over Elgin City.

And after the 234th match, a 2-1 win at home to Airdrie, Sons were halfway to promotion to the second tier, a position they still occupy.

Sons Supporters Trust director Alan Findlay was at the stadium as a fan on day one in December 2000, when Elgin City were also the visitors and were beaten 3-0.

He said: “Moving into the stadium for match one was a special day and is still fresh in many people’s memories.

“It certainly seems like we’ve reached 300 games pretty quickly, but what a way to mark it.

“The stadium will be packed – just like it was on day one.

“Those 300 games have taken in just about everything, from the low of relegation in 2006 to three brilliant promotions.

“It’s also remarkable that we’re closing in on 15 years at the stadium, which we will mark in early December.

“As we’re away to Alloa on the first Saturday after the 15th anniversary, we’ll hopefully be at home the weekend before.

“Right now we don’t know whether that will be the case, as Saturday, November 28 is Scottish Cup third round day.

“Hopefully the draw will be kind to us and we’ll have a home game to mark 15 years at the stadium.”

With tickets being readily snapped up for the visit of Rangers, the stadium will be well occupied as it stages a competitive fixture for the 300th time.

But will there be a result to match the occasion?

Alan’s answer: “We hope so! We know it will be tough, perhaps tougher than anything we have faced at the ground so far, but we have to be optimistic.

“And what better way would there be of celebrating 300 games at the place we’ve called home for nearly 15 years?”

Ten facts about Dumbarton’s stadium ahead of its 300th game.

1. As if any supporter of the generation needs reminding, the stadium opened on Saturday, December 2 2000, when Dumbarton beat Elgin City 3-0. Paddy Flannery scored the first-ever goal at the ground, with Andy Brown and Craig Brittain later on target. Of the Sons side which played in the game, Brittain stayed at the club the longest, not leaving permanently until January 2009.

2. Dumbarton have won 129, drawn 60 and lost 110 of the previous 299 games at the stadium. Of the 60 draws, 15 have been goalless while the highest level scoreline, 3-3, has occurred four times.

3. The two highest-scoring games at the stadium have seen nine goals and both have resulted in defeat for Sons. Ayr United were 5-4 winners at the ground in April 2006 while Hibernian won 6-3 there last season. Six is as many goals as any team has scored at the ground, with Hibs being the only opposition team to reach that tally. Dumbarton have hit it twice, winning 6-0 against Ayr United in October 2005 and Elgin City in May 2009.

4. There have been 453 Dumbarton goals and 411 opposition goals scored at the stadium. Sons’ 400th goal was scored by Steven McDougall, the third in a 3-1 win over Morton in August 2013. The 400th opposition goal was scored by Jason Cummings, the winner in Hibernian’s 2-1 victory in April 2015.

5. Iain Russell, now with Queen of the South, is Dumbarton’s record goalscorer at the stadium, scoring there 27 times from 2003 to 2006. Paddy Flannery is next on 24, while Bryan Prunty, now at Airdrie, has scored 22 goals for Sons at the Rock. Of the current squad, Jordan Kirkpatrick is leading scorer with seven while Garry Fleming is on six.

6. Sons have played under 11 managers, including two caretakers, at the stadium. Of those, Ian Murray has overseen the most games with 53, just one clear of his predecessor as permanent gaffer, Alan Adamson. Both marked their 50th games at the ground with wins – Murray against Falkirk and Adamson against Brechin City. Tom Carson, who was manager when the club first moved in, took charge in 32 competitive fixtures at the stadium.

7. Forfar Athletic are the most frequent visitors to the stadium, playing Dumbarton there a total of 17 times. However, pending Scottish Cup draws, Morton will equal that tally this season as their visit on Saturday, April 2 will also be their 17th meeting with Sons at the Rock. Alloa Athletic will also move on to 16 on Tuesday, March 1, drawing level with Cowdenbeath, East Fife and Stenhousemuir.

8. East Fife and Albion Rovers have been beaten the most times at the stadium, with Dumbarton winning against each 10 times. East Stirlingshire have never won in 12 competitive visits to the ground, with Sons winning nine and drawing three. Queen of the South have never lost, or even conceded a goal, in six competitive games at the stadium.

9. Only seven of the current 42 SPFL clubs have still to visit the stadium, and St Mirren will play there competitively for the first time on Saturday, December 12. Also still to play at the ground in a competitive fixture are Aberdeen, Celtic, Inverness CT, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and St Johnstone.

10. Cowdenbeath’s Anton Smith was the first player to be sent off at the stadium, seeing red in a 3-0 defeat for the Blue Brazil in March 2000. Just three days later, John Hillcoat was the first Dumbarton player dismissed at the ground in a 4-1 defeat to Albion Rovers.

Andy Galloway @AGallowaySport

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