Friday 7th August 2015
THE opening day of the league season. Despite the friendlies and early season cup ties, this is the day that players, officials and fans really look forward to.
And tomorrow, against Hibernian, it is a day when Dumbarton have a few scores to settle — despite the fact that it is almost an entirely new-look team.
They will be looking to do something that the promotion-winning sides of 2009 and 2012 could not. That only one Sons line-up has done since 2004 — win the opening league fixture.
With such high-profile opposition visiting the Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium tomorrow, it is fair to say that victory would be a welcome way to add another win to the opening day records.
Here are details of how Sons have performed in their first league fixtures over the years.
2014/15 – Raith Rovers 3 Dumbarton 1
A goalless first half is followed by a disappointing second as Paul Watson, Ryan Conroy, and Christian Nade score for Raith, with Scott Agnew pulling a last-minute goal back for Sons. The four goalscorers will start this season with Falkirk, Queen of the South, Hamilton Accies and St Mirren respectively.
Dumbarton: Rogers; Van Zanten (Prunty 80), Linton, Graham, Mair, Turner, Agnew, Nish, Megginson (Gilhaney 66), Kirkpatrick, Campbell (Fleming 76). Subs: Grindlay; Taggart, Murray, McDougall. League debuts made by Rogers, Van Zanten, Mair and Campbell.
2013/14 – Dumbarton 1 Falkirk 1
Ian Murray’s first full season starts with a battling point after Connor McGrandles opens the scoring for Falkirk. With six minutes remaining, Bryan Prunty blasts home a loose ball to earn Sons’ first opening day point for five years.
Dumbarton: Ewings; McGinn, S Smith, Graham, Barry, Turner, Gilhaney, Agnew, K Smith, McDougall (Megginson 63), Fleming (Prunty 73). Subs: Grindlay; McNiff, Coleman, Horne, McKerracher. League debuts made by Barry, K Smith and Megginson, along with McGinn and S Smith as signed players.
2012/13 – Airdrie 4 Dumbarton 1
When the fixtures came out, Sons’ opening fixture was originally away to Dundee. Maybe it is just as well it wasn’t. Jim Lister’s goal is mere consolation as a John Boyle hat-trick, and a Paul Di Giacomo goal, help Airdrie to completely reverse the scoreline in the play-off final second leg three months earlier.
Dumbarton: Grindlay; Graham, Creaney, Lithgow, McNiff, McDougall, Johnston (Gilhaney 46), Fleming, Lister, Agnew, Prunty (Lamont 46). Subs: Ewings; Forsyth, Lyden. League debuts made by Graham, McDougall, Johnston, Fleming and Lister.
2011/12 – Airdrie 3 Dumbarton 0
Not a great start to what turned out to be a vintage season. Phil Johnston — who started the following season with Sons — scores twice for Airdrie and Ryan Donnelly is also on target.
Dumbarton: Grindlay; Lyden, Nicoll, Nugent, Lithgow, Brannan, Gilhaney, Borris (Ramage 58), Hempstead (Metcalf 72), Agnew, Walker (pictured above). Subs: Ewings; Wallace, Monaghan. League debuts made by Lyden, Nicoll, Lithgow, Borris (second time at club), Ramage, Hempstead and Agnew.
2010/11 – Forfar Athletic 4 Dumbarton 1
The newly-promoted Loons inflict a crushing defeat, with only a Scott Chaplain penalty for Sons to take in consolation. Chris Templeman scores twice for Forfar after Ross Campbell and Dale Hilson have already found the net.
Dumbarton: Grindlay; Nugent, McNiff, McManus, Gordon, McStay (Carcary 57), Geggan, Chaplain (Cook 69), Maxwell (McShane 69), Campbell, Chisholm. Subs: White; Brannan. League debuts made by Nugent, McManus, Maxwell, McShane and Campbell.
2009/10 – Dumbarton 1 Alloa Athletic 3
Until April this year, this was the last time Sons had lost to Alloa — 15 games previously. A day of raw emotion after the late Gordon Lennon’s family raise the Third Division championship flag. Alloa’s John Grant scores at both ends but goals by Brian Carrigan and Stuart Noble win it for the Wasps, for whom Scott Agnew plays.
Dumbarton: McEwan (White 46); Geggan, Smith, Dunlop, Gordon, Clark, Craig (Chisholm 79), Chaplain, McLaughlin, Carcary, Murray (Hunter 74). Subs: McNiff, McStay. League debuts made by Smith, Craig, Chaplain and Hunter.
2008/09 – Dumbarton 1 Montrose 1
The new-look Dumbarton side, tipped to challenge for the title, did not have it all their own way against a physical Montrose team. A point was salvaged when Ross Clark converted a late penalty. However, the season ended with Sons living up to their tag as potential champions, lifting the silverware.
Dumbarton: McEwan; Lennon, Brittain, Canning (Logan 40), Gordon, Clark, Gray (Gourlay 64), Geggan, Keegan, Carcary, Murray. Subs: McGeown; Chisholm, Tiernan. League debuts made by everyone except Lennon, Brittain, Canning and Geggan.
2007/08 – Dumbarton 1 Elgin City 0
The last time Dumbarton won on the opening day of the league season. For a long time it looked like this would not end in victory either, but Fergus Tiernan clinches victory with 19 minutes to go.
Dumbarton: Nugent; Geggan, Russell, Craig, O’Byrne, Canning, Hamilton, Tiernan, Coyne, McFarlane, Campbell (McQuilken 69). Subs: Shaw; Yule, Gentile, Haswell. League debuts made by Nugent, Russell, O’Byrne, McFarlane and Campbell.
2006/07 – Montrose 1 Dumbarton 1
The last time when a league campaign started with a brand new manager, with Gerry McCabe at the helm for the first time in a league match. Newly-relegated Sons earn a point through new signing David Bagan after Greig Henslee gives Montrose the lead.
Dumbarton: Grindlay; Canning, Dillon, Craig, Dempsie, Bagan, Borris (Geggan 50), Gentile, McNaught, Winter, Boyle (Brittain 84). Subs: Shaw; Dornan, McCann. League debuts made by Canning, Craig, Bagan and Geggan.
Further back in history, Sons have also recorded some other notable results on the opening day of the league season. These include:
2004/05: John Dillon scores the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at home to newly-relegated Ayr United.
2003/04: Alloa Athletic, also newly-relegated into the Second Division, are beaten 2-1 despite taking the lead. Paddy Flannery and Mark Bradley turn it round.
2002/03: David Winnie’s first game as manager is drawn 2-2 at Stenhousemuir from 2-0 down, as Stevie Bonar and Paddy Flannery pull it out of the fire.
1999/2000: Billy Melvin takes just one minute to score the first goal of the new league season, away to Albion Rovers. It is one of two he gets in a 3-1 win, with Toby King also scoring.
1998/99: Paddy Flannery scores his first goal for the club, while Colin McKinnon is also on target in a 2-0 home win over Albion Rovers. The midweek game is watched by 193 fans.
1995/96: Newly-promoted Sons start life back in the First Division with a 1-0 win at home to Hamilton Accies, Hugh Burns scoring on his debut.
© Andy Galloway. This article is the copyright of the author.