Thursday 3rd August 2017
WELCOME to Sons 24.
Over the next 24 hours, you will hear from every player, and many behind the scenes, as Dumbarton prepare to take on their sixth season in the Championship.
Saturday’s home game with Morton marks the first step of that journey, and is the first league game since manager Stevie Aitken committed himself to the club for a further two years.
With 48 hours to go until Championship business resumes, the gaffer, speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, has this message for the fans.
Another historic season is ahead for Dumbarton, and it is my privilege to once again be the man to lead the team into it.
While I may not have signed my new contract immediately after the end of season 2016/17, it was always my intention to do so, and a very easy decision. The club has been good to me on and off the pitch since I first walked through the glass doors back in May 2015. I am prepared to reward that treatment by committing myself to the cause, and building a squad to help us reach our goal this season.
The coming campaign is, once again, one where we will be under no illusions. We know how difficult it will be just to obtain a place in the 2018/19 Championship, let alone move any higher in the division. However, we firmly feel we are capable of doing exactly that. Year on year, this club has made progress, and we think we can do that again.
We know there are areas for improvement from last season, and we aim to improve in these elements. While it is nice to beat teams in the top four, and we will aim to do that again, it is also vital to take points off the teams in a similar area of the league, on our own pitch. We only managed this once last season against a team who finished outside the top four. Similarly, we took two points from the team who finished bottom of the Championship last season and we know that might not be enough this time around.
However, there were also aspects of last season where we punched above our weight. Had somebody told you at this time last year that we would take seven points off Dundee United, what would you have said to them? Likewise at this time two years ago, if you’d heard that we’d take 10 points off newly-relegated St Mirren, or six off Hibernian? Getting back to last season, we took points away to all of the top four and generally provided several compelling reasons why we deserve to be looking forward to our sixth season in the Championship.
Don’t get me wrong, we are aiming to take at least seven points from Dundee United again! But we realise there are things we could do to make it easier for ourselves to look forward to season number seven at this level.
The Betfred Cup ties have seen us produce some positive stuff. The group did not have the outcome we wanted, but as preparation for the new league season, we feel the competition served its purpose. The players in a largely new-look squad have had four opportunities to play together that they wouldn’t have had before, and some of the moves we have put together have been very encouraging for a team which is still in its early stages. But we know there is still a lot to be done, and tonight we have one last training session to work on things before the league campaign starts.
We feel confident that the players we have brought to the club are the right ones, both within our budget and within the standards we have. Some of them are players I would have liked to have brought to the club sooner, but was unable to do so at the time. Many of the new recruits are, of course, well experienced at this level and you have seen them play against Dumbarton in the Championship over the past few seasons. Others are younger players who we feel have their best years still ahead of them, and we feel that playing for a part-time side holding its own in the Championship will be good for their development. That is not to say that the squad is complete for the coming season, or that there will not be movement in January, but for now we are very happy with what we have.
It is now on to start chapter six of the club’s journey in the Championship (the third under my watch) against Morton on Saturday. We know that every game we face in the Championship will be a challenge for us, each in its own way. Unlike last season, we have another fully part-time team in the division, but from the start, I urge against any complacency where Brechin City are concerned. Five years ago, Dumbarton were in their position, undertaking second tier football as a part-time club. We are still here – why shouldn’t Brechin be aiming to match that? They will be hungry to prove themselves and, just like every other team in the division, every point we take against them will be hard earned.
Finally, I wish to thank all our fans for their upbeat attitude since I came to the club. As above, it was an easy decision to continue to commit myself to Dumbarton for another two years and part of that is working for people like yourselves. I have absolutely no doubt that you will continue to back the team, home and away, like you always do, this time around. There will be times when the going gets tough and you wonder, as we do, why things are going wrong. But trust me – they’ll all be worth it if, come the end of the season, we are looking forward to season number seven in the Championship.
We look forward to seeing you all there against Morton on Saturday, and thank you once again.