Wednesday 21st September 2022

DUMBARTON began their Scottish Cup campaign with a walkover against Kilmaronock Thistle, huge victories over King’s Park (Stirling) and Jamestown and a fine away defeat of Thornliebank. Following a bye came the crunch match against Queen’s Park at Boghead.

The men from Hampden had, of course, ended the Sons cup winning dreams in the finals of the previous two seasons. It was reckoned around 10,000 crammed into Boghead on 3rd February 1883. A special reserved stand had been erected for the privileged few, and long platforms had been specially laid along the length of the ground.

When Queen’s scored first, matters didn’t look too good for Dumbarton. The game was a furious one and there was relief when Robert (Plumber) Brown equalised and elation when McKinnon headed the Sons into the lead before half time. The scenes in the second half however when ‘Kinnie’ got his second and his team’s third were unprecedented. The regular partisans went wild, the normally undemonstrative and placid merchants stretched their vocal cords to an extreme, the ball vendors did their version of a war dance and even the policeman raised their batons into the air in a victory salute.

By now agents from England were regularly attending Scottish games and were attempting to lure the best players away by offering financial inducements. Dumbarton players had recently received written offers and had been personally approached after the Queen’s Park game. Dumbarton’s semi-final opponents Pollokshields Athletic brought back an ex captain, Wilson, from England just for this game. The Sons struggled a bit in this tie which was played at Hampden, but scored eventually as the result of a goalmouth scramble. The goal was inevitably disputed. Dumbarton sportingly agreed to a replay, but insisted it be played at Boghead. Pollokshields were sent home with tails between their legs having suffered a 5-0 defeat.

So, the Sons had reached their third successive Scottish Cup final. Could it be third time lucky? Interest throughout Dumbartonshire was intense as Dumbarton’s opponents were none other than their local rivals Vale of Leven. This final exemplified the supreme position teams from the county had achieved in Scottish football. Only Queen’s Park could rival them. In addition to Dumbarton and Vale of Leven, Renton had a fine team with several excellent players.

As the big day, 31st March, approached partisan discussion and argument abounded. Special trains were to run from Alexandria, Renton, Dalreoch and Dumbarton. The Sons suffered a blow when McKinnon had to withdraw with a sprained ankle. The Vale were without regulars Brown and Logan.

On the day itself, 15,000 assembled at Hampden Park. The Sons had brought back Willie Lang and played with three half-backs instead of the then customary two. This was an early example of the 2-3-5 system which, modified this way or that, was later to catch on and became the normal pattern of playing the game until the end of the 1950s.

The final was an exciting one. After half an hour Paton put Sons in the lead, accurately slotting home a pass from a free kick, but Johnston equalised after running through unimpeded. Dumbarton took the lead again before half time through McArthur, but a McCrae goal in 70 minutes secured a 2-2 draw. A strong, gusty wind made play difficult throughout. The two Browns baffled the Vale defence and McAulay in goal for Dumbarton produced some smart saves when needed.

‘Rover’, the Lennox Herald football gossip had some controversial observations to make after the game. He hinted that one or two Dumbarton players were below par because they had perhaps partaken a little too much whisky (at a time unspecified). He trusted that a few reputations would be redeemed at the replay. He also accused many still aggrieved Queen’s Park supporters of swelling the vocal ranks of Vale of Leven supporters.

On the following Saturday, April 7th, the two teams re-assembled at Hampden for the
replay. The line ups were:-
Dumbarton: McAulay, Hutcheson, Paton, P.Miller, Keir, Brown (Sparrow), Brown (Plumber), J.Miller, Lindsay, Anderson & McArthur.
Vale of Leven: McIntosh, McIntyre, Forbes, McLeish, McPherson, Gillies, McCrae, Johnston, Friel, Kennedy & McFarlane.

About 15,000 spectators turned up and Anderson in place of Lang was the only change to either line up from the first game.

Both ‘keepers had to look lively in the early stages. Play was often confined to midfield in the first half but there were also end to end spells when over hasty or inaccurate shooting spoiled chances at both ends. James McAulay made a fine save just before the half time to keep the scoreline blank.

After an interval of only two minutes the teams returned. Dumbarton took the lead in the first minute of the second half when ‘Plumber’ Brown profited from a huge clearance to shoot Dumbarton ahead. Not long after, ‘Sparrow’ Brown tried his luck with a long shot that McIntosh misjudged. The Vale ‘keeper tried to clear without using his hands – this was quite usual- however, he missed it and Dumbarton were two up.

Not content with this, the Sons continued to bombard the Vale defence. However with only five minutes to go, Vale scored in one of their occasional forays upfield, the shot going in off the post. In spite of intense Vale pressure in the closing minutes, Sons held out and so the great moment had arrived. Dumbarton had won the Scottish Cup.

Following the induction of the Class of 72 to the new DFC Hall of Fame, the 1883 side that won the Scottish Cup for the only time in the club’s history are the second inductees. News of further additions to mark the 150th anniversary of the club will be carried in future editions of both Sons View and the club website.

Extracted and adapted from ‘The Sons of the Rock: The Official History of Dumbarton Football Club’ by Jim McAllister. Published July 2022 and available in the club shop priced £15.00.

Dumbarton Football Club

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