Friday 4th August 2017
THEY say you should always leave a party when you’re enjoying it the most.
The thing is, though, we don’t know when Dumbarton have enjoyed their second tier party the most. Maybe it’s still to come, as part of season number six at this level.
Because we sure aren’t ready to leave.
Sons 24 is now over for another year, and we hope you’ve enjoyed our build-up to the new league season. It’s been a challenge compiling it, but not as big as the challenge that awaits Stevie Aitken and his players from 3pm tomorrow. From kick-off against Morton tomorrow, to the final whistle at Dunfermline on Saturday, April 28, possibly even later than that, the bid to reach Sons’ goal for another season does not stop.
Whether that target is to go one step further than the team of 2013/14 and reach the play-offs, or improve on last season’s eighth place, or simply consolidate in the division for a sixth consecutive season, it is going to be hard work. There probably will be times like the fifth goal crashing in at Dunfermline on a wet afternoon at the beginning of March, when you wonder if things will improve.
But there will also be moments similar to beating Dundee United in their first away game in the Championship; doing it again on their second visit on Hogmanay; leading against Hibs at Easter Road and eventually taking a point; saves like Alan Martin’s from the penalty spot to earn a valuable draw at St Mirren; sticking four unanswered goals past Raith Rovers, each of them arguably one of the best of the season.
It’s moments like those that we want this season to be about. We know that, between now and April, there will be times when the going gets tough. We know that the points we do take will likely involve nerves being shredded right up to the final whistle, every minute of injury time that passes by seeing shriller whistling from the sidelines. And we know that, as per the previous five seasons, we’ll be favourites to finish in the bottom two in the eyes of many neutral observers.
However, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s what it takes to be Scotland’s best part-time team, to get at least six seasons holding your own in a largely full-time division.
We keep saying it – but who, on that remarkable afternoon at Airdrie in May 2012, would have given us a chance of staying in the division for six seasons? A run during which Falkirk would be the only constant league opponents? It is the club’s longest stay in the same division since 1984 (we will have to do another six seasons before we match that run, which was also in the second tier), and if all fixtures are played on schedule, the Queen of the South away match on Tuesday, January 2 will be our 200th consecutive league match at this level. We’re going to make it at least 216. Did you think you’d see that?
We look forward to seeing you all at the YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium tomorrow for the start of chapter six, and to the away support’s first league outing next Saturday at Falkirk. The blood, sweat and tears that await will all be worth it in the end if, after our trip to Dunfermline at the end of April, we are looking forward to one thing.
Season number seven.