Friday 24th July 2020
FOOTBALL matches have been on hold for over four months – but Morgyn Neill is still waiting for a break.
The Dumbarton defender might not have kicked or headed a ball in the jersey for 20 weeks, since the 2-0 defeat at Clyde in March which turned out to be the last game of the season.
But instead, when lockdown kicked in, he started training on his own – and he’s never stopped, even during what would have been the close season.
And he has a coach who knows what Scottish lower league football is about – his dad Alan, who played senior football for East Stirlingshire and Berwick Rangers.
The hard work paid off when Morgyn signed his new one-year contract with Sons this week.
Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, Morgyn said of the lockdown period: “I’ve found it pretty easy. Everybody is different – some players have family and kids around them, whereas I stay with my girlfriend at our home.
“But my dad played professionally and I haven’t stopped training with him since lockdown began. We’ve been out three times a week – Tuesday, Thursday straight after work, and Saturday morning.
“I am missing the football to a certain extent, but I haven’t had a break from keeping fit.
“Hopefully come October 17 (when League One is due to begin), we will have some sort of crowd in the stadium. I think we will.
“You look at the English Premier League – they’ve been playing games, but it’s not the same without fans and it does play a part.
“Some players can’t get motivated and it feels more like a friendly, so we hope we will have the fans back come October.
“It might be difficult for clubs with bigger crowds, who might only be allowed so many in their grounds, but in our league it can be done with social distancing.
“You do miss it – Saturday is made for football in my life. You get up and put the tracksuit on, meet your car pool and get a coffee before the game. You miss things like that.”
Morgyn attended the C&G Systems Stadium on Tuesday to sign his new deal, with fellow Sons of last season Ryan McGeever and Stefan McCluskey also checking in.
He admitted that there had been overtures from elsewhere, but re-signing was always his goal, for all sorts of reasons.
He continued: “Just like any player, I’m happy to get it sorted, especially with everything that’s been going on.
“It was an easy decision, not just one I took for the sake of it, but I said I wanted to stay at Dumbarton even before the lockdown.
“Like every other player there’s going to be interest from other clubs, and that was the case for me, but I was really set on staying at Dumbarton.
“I thought we did well last year. A bit of consistency could have played its part but we were unlucky with injuries – Kyle Hutton and Isaac Layne were out for long periods.
“That took its toll on us. We had six or seven games where we only had 12 or 13 players available. Sometimes we had to name a couple of players on the bench who weren’t even going to play.
“But the gaffer had belief in us, and said he wanted to keep me on. And the fans are very good towards the club, as you can see from everything they’ve done during the lockdown.
“I’m always enthusiastic to celebrate goals with them. It was a bit of everything that made it an easy decision to stay at Dumbarton.”
While Sons’ squad continues to take shape, Morgyn is already aware of how they can rise to the challenge of League One over the coming season.
He added: “The most important thing is that we get off to a good start, with there being only 27 games in the league.
“It’s going to be harder than it was last year, with no disrespect to Stranraer or Raith Rovers. Partick Thistle and Cove Rangers replace them and I think they’ll be stronger.
“The league will be the hardest it’s been in years. Even when I was in it with Livingston after being relegated from the Championship, it will be harder this season.
“We’ve started well with getting players signed and hopefully there will be more in the days to come. If we keep most of what we’ve had I think we’ve a chance.
“There are bits we need to do that we didn’t do too well last season. We need to be consistent and a bit tougher to play against.
“We’ll just take it a game at a time, and you never know.”