Monday 16th November 2020

DANIEL CHURCH had spent 13 years building himself up to take on top flight opposition.

And on Saturday, he got what he’d been working towards – but with one difference.

Instead of the Celtic shirt he’d played football in since he was seven years old, instead it was in the black and gold of Dumbarton.

The 20-year-old defender left Parkhead in September having spent almost two thirds of his life in the youth and reserve setup with the Hoops.

Empty weekends ticked by for two months. Then, a signature and one hour’s training later, he was pitched in for Sons against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Dumbarton may have lost the game 2-0, but it was a positive exercise for Daniel, who is signed initially until Monday, January 11.

With some League One experience already under his belt, he’s optimistic that he can kick on during his stay at the C&G Systems Stadium.

Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, Daniel said: I think it’s really good to get a bit of security again after so long. I left Celtic in the close season having been there for 13 years and with the Covid situation meaning no games for such a long time, it’s good to get back into a team again.

“When the manager said he wanted me to sign, I was keen to come in straight away.

“The boys did really well against Kilmarnock on Saturday. It’s always a difficult place to go against a Premiership side and I’d only trained with the team for an hour on Thursday before it.

“I was really short of match fitness having not played since September, but we gave a decent account of ourselves, especially in the second half.

“When I went into training on Thursday it was good to see a few familiar faces. I know Sam Wardrop and PJ Crossan from my time at Celtic and Chris Hamilton from the Scotland youth setup. It certainly made the transition easier.

“I was on loan to East Fife for six months last season and I think I will benefit from being there now, as I know the league and in fact played against Dumbarton a few times.

“I’m in a better place to play games and having played for the youths at Celtic, that was my first step into professional football.

“Since I was about seven years old, all I knew was Celtic, growing up as part of their youth team. Every year it was going well and it got to the stage where I made the reserve team.

“But I never made the first team and although I went to get games somewhere else, it was always in the back of my mind that it would happen that I would leave.”

Daniel in action at Kilmarnock on Saturday. Copyright Tommy Hughes 2020.

An odyssey like no other now awaits Dumbarton on Saturday when they travel to face Peterhead, and then face a three and a half hour return journey in their match kit.

The Covid-19 situation means that they will not have access to a dressing room. But the match remains a target to be won, and for Daniel, it’s part of his plan for a successful stay with Sons.

He added: “Personally I want to show Jim Duffy that the faith he has put in me is justified. I’ll just look to play as many games as I can and get us to a good position. We’re sitting third right not so it’s just a case of staying up there as long as possible.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen beyond January but if the rest of my season is here then we’ll do our best to achieve what we can.

“It will be interesting going to Peterhead on Saturday. The way things are is crazy right now. I don’t think anybody is happy about three and a half hours up there, playing a game and travelling home, probably soaked through.

“But we just have to get on with it and hope we can get the victory. If we can build on Saturday’s performance, especially from the second half, then we should take a bit of confidence.”

Andy Galloway

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