Friday 12th January 2018
FOURTEEN is the answer to the question that a few people will have been asking in the wake of this morning’s news.
In between his two spells at Dumbarton, just how many goals did Iain Russell score against Sons?
Seven for Livingston and seven for Queen of the South. There can be few players with such a record against any individual club, let alone a former one.
But it’s not the only impression the striker, who has signed with Dumbarton for a second time, has made.
He is still the club’s record goalscorer in matches played at the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium, with 27 scored in black and gold.
And without the assistance of record books, it’s hard to recall anybody returning to the club solely as a player, 12 years after he left.
Gerry McCabe had two spells nine years apart while Murdo MacLeod’s return incorporated a managerial role. It’s over to the club historians to work out if anybody else comes close in only playing terms.
With Sons, and in the 12 years since, Iain has done well for a 20-year-old who walked into the ground which is once again his home, with only a handful of games for Motherwell behind him.
That was in the second half of season 2002/03. It’s arguable that he was one of the signings that kept Dumbarton in what was then the Second Division.
Fifteen years on, a league higher, Stevie Aitken is hopeful he can do likewise in the Championship.
Just over 90 minutes of first-team football, shared across five games, had been Iain Russell’s career with Motherwell when he rolled up at Dumbarton on loan in 2003.
In football’s first-ever January transfer window, he was part of a double last-minute swoop by then manager David Winnie, with midfielder Barry Donald also checking in from Queen of the South.
In an August 2017 interview as part of Sons 24, David said of Iain: “He had a little bit more about him, a bit more quality, and he was keen to learn and step up again.
“A lot of players who move down a division are at that level for a reason. They’re settled at that level and won’t go any higher.
“But with Iain, I could see that if he got a bit of consistency and a run of games, he could play and would step up a level again.”
The new signing’s Sons debut was as a substitute in a 3-1 win over Hamilton Accies on Saturday, February 8 2003.
Just over a month later, David was gone after a 2-0 defeat at bottom team Cowdenbeath which left Dumbarton staring at an immediate return to the Third Division.
Under replacement Brian Fairley, Sons found an extra gear, and so did Iain, who reached the third last game of the season still without a goal.
That wait ended in a 3-1 win at home to Stenhousemuir – a high-octane game which was only clinched late on when Neil Scally scored from the halfway line.
Two weeks later, Dumbarton were at home to Raith Rovers, already Second Division champions, in their final game.
A win would guarantee survival, but when the Kirkcaldy side took the lead, and second bottom Stranraer then scored at home to Airdrie, trouble was brewing.
Fortunately things clicked for Iain at the right time. He scored three of Sons’ four goals in a 24-minute spell to ensure a 4-1 success, and Second Division football for another season.
When he was released by Motherwell, it was something he too would be part of, with Fairley not hesitating to snap him up.
Flourishing as a Son of the Rock
Similarly to the previous season, things took their time to fall into place for Iain in terms of goals, although injuries meant he didn’t play every game.
The clinching goal in a 3-1 home win over East Fife was his first goal of the season, in mid-December. Three weeks later, he scored the only goal of the game at home to Morton, who had lost only once all season and were seemingly running away with the Second Division title.
Sons went from strength to strength from there, with Iain going on to finish the season with nine goals as they just missed out on second place to Hamilton Accies.
He followed that up with 13 in season 2004/05, including a second hat-trick for the club in a 3-2 win at home to Alloa. To this day, he is still the last player to register a second treble with the club.
Even though the club was relegated at the end of season 2005/06, another nine goals in that season had put Iain on the map. He was a player Dumbarton would do well to keep hold of in the Third Division.
They weren’t given the chance. Brechin City, newly relegated back into the Second Division, won the race for his signature, and his career with Sons was over…or was it?
The man they dreaded seeing
There is rarely anything nice about seeing a former player line up against you in opposition colours. With Iain, it got to the stage where his very presence against Dumbarton was viewed as a goal of a start.
He never played against Sons for Brechin, nor did he score past them for Morton, or Stirling or Alloa, each of whom he was sent on loan to by the Cappielow club.
But he more than made up for that with Livingston and Queen of the South. As well as scoring Livi’s winner at Dumbarton in August 2010, he also won the penalty converted by Robbie Winters for their opener.
He went on to score in two of the sides’ other three meetings that season, only denied a full house as he was suspended for the sides’ final clash, after which Livingston received the Second Division trophy.
When Dumbarton joined Livi in the second tier a year later, their former striker continued to show no mercy. Ironically the only time he played against Sons that season and failed to score, his team won 5-0 anyway.
It was a similar story after he joined Queen of the South, with the inclusion of a heftier defeat at Dumfries, in March 2016, in which he completed the Doonhamers’ rout.
His last goal against Sons was the following month. Interestingly, of the six goals in Dumbarton’s 4-2 victory against Queens, four of them were scored by players who now play for Sons. All of them do so having left and come back – Christian Nade (who scored twice) and Tom Walsh being the others.
Iain was with Airdrie last season in League One, and his decision to retire at 34 at the end of the campaign came as a surprise to a few people.
His fitness is not in question, though. In October, he completed the Great Scottish Run 10k in Glasgow in a rapid time of 40 minutes and 30 seconds.
Now that his running shoes are traded for football boots once again, and still only 35, his attention is on scoring goals for Dumbarton again.
And you could say that after recent seasons, he owes them a few.
|Goals against Dumbarton
|Team scored for
|Score (Sons first)
|Result (Sons first)
|August 14 2010
|November 6 2010
|March 5 2011
|August 28 2012
|February 2 2013
|February 2 2013
|February 9 2013
|September 28 2013
|December 7 2013
|April 19 2014
|August 16 2014
|August 22 2015
|March 19 2016
|April 12 2016