Sunday 2nd August 2020

STUART CARSWELL knows better than most the importance of having supporters in the stadium.

Saturday, February 29, 2020. From the moment Kyle Benedictus’ headed clearance found the Dumbarton skipper’s boot, to the moment the final Sons player returned to his own half to kick off the seconds that were left of the game.

In between, the ball hitting the Raith Rovers net to give Dumbarton their second victory of the season over the team who won promotion at the end of it all.

It seems unthinkable that could all have been experienced without the Sons fans there.

Which is why it is important to the captain that from Saturday, October 17 at Forfar, there are crowds watching his team in action once again.

Stuart had overtures from other clubs, but the chance to stay captain and start a fourth full season at the C&G Systems Stadium won the day.

And like everybody else, he’s ready to get himself back into it when pre-season training resumes, followed by matches.

Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, Stuart said: “I had a couple of options this year, and I’ve had time to think about them. But I spoke to the manager and we came to an agreement, and I’m happy to get it done.

“Being captain was a key factor for me in staying. Being given the captaincy is a big thing, and made my decision a bit easier.

“It’s been the same for everybody over the last few months, as you’re used to keeping yourself fit by playing football and now have to do something else.

“But there are people in worse situations than us – they are struggling to leave their house. At least we can do that and go for a run or do other exercise.

“I’m looking forward to getting back into it now. We’re starting to get a squad back together. It will be difficult this season but it’s all about us.

“It’s a big thing for me to have fans in the stadium, or it’s never going to be the same. Hopefully somebody can come up with a plan to allow supporters in again.

“It’s important that you have them there to celebrate any goal. Look at the games down south – a player scored his first goal for Arsenal and there were no supporters there to celebrate with him.”

When Stuart returns to action, he will do it with a different regular partner in midfield from the one he’s had for the last three seasons.

He’s played the odd match without having Kyle Hutton alongside him, but with Hutton’s departure now confirmed, there is a space to be filled.

And Stuart has put his trust in manager Jim Duffy to find a player to fill that space as Sons aim high for the campaign ahead.

He added: “We’ve lost a few key players but we’ve got faith in the manager’s signing policy and I don’t see why we can’t be there or thereabouts this season.

“We’d known for a few weeks that Kyle would be leaving, and he goes with everybody’s best wishes. He’s been a big influence for us but players come and go and hopefully the manager has somebody lined up to replace him.”

Andy Galloway

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