Sunday 30th December 2018

THIS time 12 months ago, we were looking forward to the start of 2018.

We all knew we had the Irn Bru Cup semi-final away to The New Saints lying ahead. It was every bit the festivity we hoped it would be, but little did we know what a challenging year it would be over the big picture.

As we get ready to see out that year, we can look back at it having undergone just about every emotion possible. That phrase is well-used, but it is hard not to use it where Dumbarton are concerned.

If things had worked out differently, the Irn Bru Cup would still be sitting in our cabinet and we would either still be in the Championship or sitting higher in League One than we find ourselves.

Unfortunately, none of these have come to pass, but it does not diminish the contribution made by our supporters over the past 12 months.

From our first game of the year, a goalless draw at Queen of the South, to Saturday’s match at Stenhousemuir, you have been there to support us.

You have done it in all weathers too, from the glorious sunshine we enjoyed at Spartans in our opening Betfred Cup tie, to the cold, stormy conditions at Raith Rovers only a couple of weeks ago.

I can’t remember snow at any of our games this year, but I’m sure that if we’d had it, you’d have been there through that as well!

We just wish we could have rewarded you better. Whether that would be by bringing home the Irn Bru Cup, retaining our place in the Championship, or going into 2019 in a higher position in League One, we would have liked to have given you at least one of those outcomes.

But that’s football. You go through the low points to appreciate the high ones more. It is fair to say that we have had our share of kicks in the teeth this year. We hope that these are now at an end and the club can now move forward.

And it is fitting that you have seen out the old year being able to watch a truly special piece of skill by Ross Forbes which gave us a vital result at Ochilview.

That goal ensured that we finish 2018 in eighth place in League One, with more of a cushion than we would otherwise have had.

It would be a lie for us to say that this is where we anticipated or hoped to be at this stage of the season when it got underway back in August.

While we would repeat that injuries have adversely affected our squad, the bottom line is that results have not aligned with what we hoped for.

This came to a head on Monday, October 8 when we took a decision which, although we felt, and still do feel, was necessary, is always a horrendous one to take.

We fully understand the frustration of our former manager at the events of that day. He never gave the job anything less than his best shot, and it is always distinctly unpleasant to tell a human being that he no longer has a job.

However, the club felt a change of management was necessary, and in Jim Duffy we secured our number one candidate nearly two weeks later.

It has been a challenge for Jim to improve our fortunes so far and will continue to be so, but in 30 years as a manager he has never dodged a challenge and will not start now.

It is a challenge he is meeting, with extremely positive results posted at home to East Fife and Brechin City and efforts to the finish to draw with Airdrie and, on Saturday, Stenhousemuir.

There is much talk on the terraces and in the stands about potential changes taking place to the squad in January.

We wish to make one thing absolutely clear – Jim will be backed by the board to the fullest extent possible.

If we are unable to sanction a transfer then there will be fully valid reasons why.

It should also be remembered that while we are not in a position we hoped to be in at the start of the season, we are only eight points away from fourth place, with 51 still to play for over the remaining 17 matchdays.

Should it not come to pass that we reach that position, we would simply dust ourselves down and get ready for another go at it next season.

But anything which is still an arithmetical possibility should be our aim until it is no longer as such.

In what remains of this season, we will endeavour to ensure that Dumbarton FC is the best it can be. And that will continue further into the new calendar year which is almost upon us.

We trust that you will be back with us in 2019, keeping up the support at home and away.

And we hope that your numbers will be swelled as more people sign up to our support.

We will do our utmost to reward you.

On behalf of the entire club may I wish all our staff, sponsors and supporters a Happy New Year which brings you everything you wish for, in football and other walks of life.

John Steele

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