EXCLUSIVE: LOOKING BACK – AND LOOKING FORWARD

Monday 1st November 2021

THE more things change, the more they stay the same.

Dr Neil Mackay may be the new man in the chair of Dumbarton FC. But as far as the club’s relationship with its fans goes, nothing changes.

The former GP was named as the club’s new chairman on Wednesday, succeeding John Steele, who bows out after three and a half years.

The two spoke to the club website after the transition was made, and Neil was keen to pay tribute to his now predecessor at the top.

Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, he said: “It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to serve the club in this capacity.

“It is not something I could ever have imagined or anticipated when, as a season ticket holder, I was taking my two young sons along to matches at Boghead.

“As I take up the chair, I must start by paying tribute to John for his service and hard work during his three and a half years in the role.

“He has faced a challenge that no Dumbarton chairman, certainly in living memory, has had – to see the club through a global pandemic and ensure it comes out the other side.

“That was down to the collective efforts of many people, but as chairman, John was at the forefront of those efforts, and he can feel very satisfied with the job he has done.

“Now it is about ensuring that the club remains on a sound footing, with such a momentous milestone of 150 years as a club approaching us in just over a year’s time.”

And he had a message for the club’s supporters, who will be kept informed every step of the way of the club’s progress.

Neil added: “Although I am new to the chair, I want our supporters to know that nothing changes in terms of the rapport we wish to have with our fanbase.

“Our door remains open to them, and they are an essential part of keeping this club moving forward.

“The Sons Supporters Trust is represented on the board by Stephanie Park, but all our directors are open to engagement with the fans.

“I will strive to ensure that the club has the same positive relationship with its fans as it did under John’s stewardship.

“And we will also look to further progress the club. Recent results have been a bit of a roadblock, but at Airdrie we found ourselves in circumstances which could be described as challenging.

“Stevie Farrell, his staff and his players have my and the board’s unanimous and complete trust to take the club forward on the pitch. The fight they showed at Airdrie in those circumstances was admirable and we certainly hope that we can put results on the board from here, starting against Clyde on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, John, who also retired from his full-time job as a solicitor last winter, will not be hanging up his scarf altogether.

Supporters will continue to see him in the stand on a matchday; just not as the man in overall charge at the Moreroom.com Stadium.

He goes down in history as the chairman who dealt with the unprecedented challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was to his relief that supporters were allowed into games again.

He told the club website: “I have enjoyed it, but it is time to go.

“I’ve packed quite a lot into my three and a half years. I’ve overseen the appointments of two managers and seen many players come and go.

“But the one thing I never expected to have to do was see the club through a sustained period where supporters were not allowed into matches, or we were not even allowed to play at all.

“That was a major curveball for us, and it is to the credit of everybody involved at Dumbarton FC that the club has emerged from this period.

“Sitting at matches in an otherwise empty stadium for 90 per cent of last season was a strange time for us all. It was a relief when, in May, we were able to welcome supporters back for the match against Edinburgh City which, although a defeat on the night, secured us in League One.

“I would like to thank all of those supporters for their backing, as well as the directors, managers, players and club staff who have served the club during my tenure as chairman. With their assistance, it has been a challenge, but a pleasure.”

And the highlights, on the pitch, from his time in the chair?

He added: “Beating Raith Rovers in injury time just before lockdown was a great day, and I have twice seen us play Aberdeen and push them all the way during my time in the chair.

“But in September of this year, we defeated East Fife 5-0 at home. Not only was it our first league win by that margin for 10 years – it was the first time our home fans had been able to see us win after so long having to watch games from home. So that is hard to match.

“And I will see more matches, as I am not doing a disappearing act. I will continue to be around the club and although I was not at Methil on Saturday, I am looking forward to seeing us play Clyde at home this week.

“Although I am sorry to be giving up the chair, I am delighted to be handing it over to Neil, a lifelong supporter who will give the role his very best shot.

“Our supporters can be completely assured that our directors will continue to put the wellbeing and continued progress of our club as its top priority.

“As our 150th anniversary as a football club closes in, it deserves nothing less.”

Dumbarton Football Club

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