Thursday 22nd October 2015
THE people of Dumbarton are still waiting for Marty McFly to roll up in his Delorean, as he was projected to yesterday.
But 10 years ago today was one of the most bizarre, and most successful, games to take place at what is now the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium.
Ayr United were in town for a Second Division match, having already beaten Sons 2-0 at Somerset Park on the opening day of the season.
Home fans were hopeful, but the expectation had to be kept moderate after a tough start. What happened was an extraordinary 90 minutes that is still remembered a decade on.
Here’s all the info on what happened on Saturday, October 22 2005.
Dumbarton’s season, up until this point, had hardly been stunning. The clash with Ayr was the start of the second quarter of the campaign, having taken just five points from the first nine games. Their only victory had been a 2-0 success at home to bottom of the league Stirling Albion, who themselves were winless. Paul Martin was in his first full season as Sons manager and, while some games deserved better than they got, already some harsh realities were being exposed in a tough Second Division.
In an ordinary third tier league, a team containing the likes of Stephen Grindlay, Mark Dempsie, Andy Rodgers and Iain Russell would do well. Even more so when adding close season signings like Jamie Smith, Scott Bannerman and Kevin Gaughan, all members of the promotion race of the previous season with Brechin, Morton and Stranraer respectively. However, this was not an ordinary third tier league. Gretna, Partick Thistle and Morton were expected to dominate the promotion race and with other full-timers in the league, expectations always had to be tempered.
Key points had already slipped from Sons’ grasp, though. Morton were reduced to nine men against them and then put a goal behind with five minutes left, but the men from Cappielow rescued a 1-1 draw. Defeats away to fellow part-timers Peterhead and Forfar, in consecutive weeks and without scoring, did little to shake off the early season nerves. However, it was still early and nobody was looking out the road maps for Elgin yet.
Ayr, meanwhile, were struggling to threaten the promotion favourites themselves. However, they were a difficult side to win against. They rolled up at Dumbarton without a league victory since the season’s second week, but having lost only once, to Morton. The other six of their previous seven league games had all ended in draws – and each of the past three road trips had ended with a 3-3 scoreline. Within a month, trips to face Raith, Stirling and Peterhead had all seen six goals equally shared.
On paper it was hard to pick a winner. On grass, Sons would have to keep it tight against a side who could find the net away from home – just as evidently as the opposition could find theirs.
Martin was not without attacking options, as Russell and Rodgers were joined in the squad by John Gemmell and an up-and-coming Paul McQuilken. Of that quartet, Rodgers and McQuilken were chosen to lead the attack with the other two on the bench. The five-man midfield saw close season signings Kevin MacDonald, Graham Connell and Chris Gentile team up with Ryan Borris and Chris Boyle, well established as first choice wide men. Dempsie, Smith and Gaughan were responsible for keeping Ayr out along with Grindlay in goal.
But Gaughan found himself something else to do – scoring the opener after four minutes. That was the only goal of the game for another 28 before the moment where all hell broke loose.
A wild tackle in midfield by Raymond Logan was met with an advantage call by referee Crawford Allan. The move ended in the Ayr penalty area, where Dougie Ramsay’s challenge denied Rodgers a clear goalscoring opportunity. Just about everybody in the stadium knew Ramsay was walking, but few could have envisaged what happened next. Upon the say-so of dugout side assistant Francis Andrews, Logan’s challenge saw him too dismissed. After two incidents in about 10 seconds, Ayr – for the second time in only four visits to the Rock – were down to nine men.
Rodgers’ penalty burst the net, but nothing was being taken for granted. Half time arrived with two goals still the margin and, mindful that they had been booked, Martin substituted Borris and Connell. Bannerman was one of those coming on, the other John Dillon. Eighteen minutes into the second half, the latter surely ended any doubts by scoring the third goal.
When Rodgers’ second made it 4-0 with 15 minutes remaining, the then record victory at the Rock (set against Stenhousemuir in March 2004) was equalled. However, Ayr’s depleted numbers were rapidly losing stamina. Cashing in on that were Smith, with five minutes remaining, and two minutes later Russell, who came on for MacDonald.
Six-nil. Wow. It had a fair bit to do with the events of the 32nd minute, but Dumbarton had their day of being noticed. And Ayr, for the fourth away game in a row, had taken part in a match that contained six goals.
If Martin had a better three-game spell in charge of Dumbarton than the sequence started by this one, it’s hard to imagine how.
Three nights later his team were at Alloa and within 30 seconds were in front as they coasted to a 4-1 victory. Then a big game at home to Peterhead was won 1-0 with a late goal by Boyle. In one week, Sons had scored 11 goals and more importantly, earned nine points. They were on the map of the Second Division, however much they were brought crashing down to earth with a 4-0 defeat at Morton in the next game.
This still stands as the joint record victory at the Rock to this day, equalled only by a 6-0 victory over Elgin City in May 2009.
And Sons’ sub goalkeeper that day? Mark McGeown.
The same Mark McGeown who, in goal for Ayr United, fished the ball out of the net six times 10 years ago today.