Friday 26th January 2018
HE walked into Dumbarton a year ago, completely new to part-time football.
Now Ian Durrant wants to help the club create history.
Twelve months ago he became Stevie Aitken’s assistant – and despite the various challenges since then, he’s loving every minute.
And two Saturdays next month give him, the gaffer and their players the chance to rewrite the history books.
Standing in their way are Morton, in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round, and the New Saints, in the Irn Bru Cup semi-final.
No sight at all is being lost of the remaining 15 league encounters – especially not with one of them, away to Livingston, ahead tomorrow.
But being in two cup competitions in February is almost unheard of at Dumbarton in recent times – and it’s an opportunity Ian is determined to make the most of.
Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, Ian said: “It’s like everything else – you’re in it to win it.
“It breeds confidence, and we now look forward to a last 16 tie against one of our divisional rivals in Morton. We’ve done well against them this season and there will be a good atmosphere that day.
“Then we have the semi-final against The New Saints. Stevie and I hope to get down to watch them in action before then so we will know what we are up against.
“We have the chance to create our own bit of history. In any cup competition, anything can happen, and we discovered that at Peterhead on Tuesday in what was a hard game.
“They were thought to have pretty much a free hit at us as they are two divisions below, but they have good, experienced players who showed a lot of determination.”
Looking at his first 12 months as Stevie’s right hand man, Ian told the club website: “I’ve loved every minute in terms of how the club is progressing.
“Before I came in it had its status as the best part-time team in Scotland and it’s kept that.
“When I came in we were still flirting with relegation along with Raith Rovers and Ayr United. I knew it would be a challenge but it was one I was looking forward to.
“I was under no illusions about the task ahead, and it gave me the drive and determination to succeed.
“Staying in the Championship is great for the club but we are trying to improve all the time. We’re still a work in progress.
“It’s been a transitional period in terms of personnel. We started the season with 12 or 13 new players and the Betfred Cup probably came a bit too early for us.
“We started off a bit sluggish upfront and lacking in terms of goals scored, but that’s nothing against the forwards.
“We’ve just had to be a bit braver in terms of taking chances and that showed at Peterhead. Iain Russell and Calum Gallagher got three goals between them and we had a bit more presence upfront.
“We rode our luck a bit, but having that bit of experience got us up the pitch a bit quicker.”
Tuesday’s win at Peterhead was the first time Sons have scored more than twice in a match since beating Raith Rovers 4-0 in March.
And Ian hopes that, ahead of a vital spell in the Championship campaign, the victory at Balmoor can be a turning point for the ‘goals for’ column.
He continued: “It’s not rocket science – goals win you games.
“Defensively we are working well, although we have lost a few goals and that’s something we always try to work on.
“But at Balmoor we showed what we have going forward. Tom Walsh was breaking forward and playing passes and Kyle Hutton and Stuart Carswell made a big contribution, as well as Russell and Gallagher.
“We only had three outfield players on the bench and one of them, Danny Handling, is struggling with his knee. However, the boys starting the game showed what they are capable of.
“We want to finish as high up the league as we can. We’ve had a sticky patch in terms of results but the boys have been giving it everything and we’ve not been helped by a lack of numbers.
“We haven’t had a lot of options to change a game, but we now have a bit of experience and the signing of Kevin Nisbet will give us added strength upfront.
“Players are getting back to match fitness but presently we are having to rely on the same personnel. We need players back in.”
Having joined midway through last season, Ian helped Stevie to succeed in his target of securing a sixth season in the Championship.
And he remains confident that, in his first full season, that goal can be achieved again.
He added: “We’ve a tough month and a half coming up. We’ve got one home game in the next four weeks and it’s going to be a big ask, but that’s what it’s all about. That’s why you choose to be a footballer.
“We feel we can stay up. We’ve a group of boys who have shown they can compete.
“We’ve lost our way a bit in the last few weeks with the games we’ve lost. We’ve lost the first goal and struggled after that.
“But we’ve shown that on our day, we can do well. We’ve beaten St Mirren, we’ve taken a point at Dundee United – we’ve competed with the best.
“We just need to be putting a run together. It’s all about self-belief. It’s still quite a young team and with a bit of direction, we can get back on track again.
“The players know they can survive in this league.”