Monday 23rd May 2016
THE Scottish Cup holders will be there. All bar one of the nine opponents will be entirely full-time.
But Dumbarton’s message about the challenge awaiting them in the 2016/17 Championship is simple. Embrace it.
Assistant manager Stevie Farrell is predicting a wide open race for promotion to the top flight in the coming season, feeling that as many as five teams could fancy their chances.
Sons’ goal will be to make it six consecutive seasons in Scotland’s second tier, and that will require taking points from the teams in the lower part of the table.
However, all 36 games, taking on the likes of Hibernian, Dundee United and Falkirk, add up to a challenge that Stevie is relishing.
He said: “Being realistic it’s going to be a difficult league for a part-time club – but we are there on merit. And we are looking forward to the challenge.
“Last season I think everybody accepted Rangers would win the league, but this time there will be about four or five teams who will believe they can win it.
“Our goal is to compete with the teams who will be roundabout us, who will not be challenging for the title.
“It’s a fantastic challenge for everybody at Dumbarton and one we should all embrace when it comes along in August.”
Stevie – who is overseeing things at the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium while gaffer Stevie Aitken is on holiday – already has positive signs to look to from last season.
The duo were in charge as Sons beat the team who went on to win the Scottish Cup for the first time in 78 years.
However, it’s not all about celebrating the positives. It’s about looking for ways to improve as well.
Stevie added: “I said at the end-of-season awards night that you can look at results, form and periods of form at home and away.
“But when you are a part-time side in a very difficult full-time division it gets different. If somebody had said this time last year that Dumbarton would beat St Mirren three times and Hibs twice, people would have raised their eyebrows and maybe burst out laughing.
“That was achieved last season – but now we have to look at where we can improve, whether it’s scoring or conceding, whether it’s periods in the game before or after half time.
“We have to analyse everything and try to come up with methods that will improve us and if we do that, we can go on and have a really good, positive 2016/17 season.”