Friday 29th June 2018
DUMBARTON chairman John Steele answers a few questions on the coming season and the club’s reaction to the change of division which was confirmed last month.
What have you made of your time as chairman to date?
It’s been interesting and challenging – but I like challenges. I came through to Helensburgh in 1971 from the east coast of Scotland having gone to university in Aberdeen. Dumbarton have been my local team since then and it is a huge honour to be chairman.
What was the club’s immediate reaction to relegation?
We were gutted. It was a hit in the solar plexus, particularly with the nature of how we lost. It was a last-minute goal that beat us in the Irn Bru Cup final and it was a last-minute goal that took us to extra time in the play-off final. So that was gutting – but I dwelt on it for 24 hours and thought we are where we are, let’s get on with it.
I’ve got to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the support I’ve had throughout the whole boardroom and everywhere. Everybody is engaging, everybody is joining in to make things better because for a while I thought we would have a job. Even season tickets are going better than we expected. Everybody accepts that we are where we are, so let’s pick ourselves up again.
The signing activity we have had so far undoubtedly could not have happened but for the involvement of C&G Systems. Some of the players have part-time jobs with them and frankly, had it not been for their involvement and help, we wouldn’t have had these signings.
Some people viewed relegation as a positive with a view to winning more games this season. Do you share that view?
I am pragmatic and yes, I understand the point of view. The history is that we were hanging on in the Championship and we kept referring to the mountain that was getting bigger and bigger. To be honest, we probably are where we should be. I would like to think it is going to be a more pleasurable season on the basis that we should be scoring goals and hopefully be notching up a few more wins, instead of trying to hang on to survive.
Are you happy with the transfer activity to date?
Note: This question was asked before the signings of Cammy Ballantyne, Ross Perry and Ryan Thomson.
Very happy. There will hopefully be a few more in this coming week. The signings of Rory Loy, Ross Forbes and Bobby Barr are real statements of intent from us. We have players of a standing that we would not usually expect to sign and that augurs well.
What is the target for this coming season?
Our target is to finish at least fourth and be in the playoffs. Competing against full-time clubs hasn’t been a problem for us in the past, so it doesn’t fill me with any particular fear that we will be up against a full-time club in League One.
What are your views of Dumbarton’s relationship with the community?
It could be better on both sides and it’s something the board want to address. It hasn’t been that good over the last few years and we are determined to improve it and engage with the community. We’ve had some of the players attending local youth teams’ presentation nights recently. We hope to engage not just the footballing community, but the community in general. We are all pulling together and that is the message we want to send out.
We need to get out there and be more user-friendly. We also want to use the stadium more for weddings and other functions.
In the grand scheme of things, how important are the cup competitions this season?
The priority has to be the league campaign, but like all other clubs, we do harbour the hope of getting a big draw against one of the bigger clubs at some stage of a cup competition. It’s always a game of football whether it’s big or small; you never go into a game expecting to be defeated.
If we were to look at last season in the round, the number of games we played in the Irn Bru Cup didn’t help our survival situation as far as the Championship was concerned. That said, it was a journey we all enjoyed, it was special, so we’d like some more of that.
What if it doesn’t work out this season – what then?
We just take each season as it comes. We would be disappointed if we were to remain in League One beyond this season, but I am a pragmatist and we would pick ourselves up and have another tilt at it.
What has been your best memory as a Dumbarton supporter?
The best game last season was against The New Saints. That was special. The Dimitris Froxylias goal stands out in my memory from last year.
What have you made of the fans, particularly coming down to help spruce up the stadium?
It sounds trite, but if it wasn’t for the fans, I wouldn’t do it. It’s for the fans and about the fans. I just get my pleasure out of whatever I’m doing for them. I like the challenge, I like doing it as a job, but if it wasn’t for the fans I wouldn’t be doing it.
It heartens me what they’ve done over the weekend, working on the stadium. Huge respect to them for their commitment.
Keep the faith!