Saturday 4th May 2019

WHEN this season started, we hoped that by the time of our last fixture, we would witness scenes of joy at promotion.

Well, we got our wish today. At least part of it.

We just wish that team had been us.

We congratulate Arbroath on winning the League One title, which they were presented with the trophy in recognition of after today’s game.

Now we can start the process of planning to try and follow in their footsteps next season, either by matching their finish or by moving up through the playoffs.

Season 2018/19 is now officially over, and a mix of emotions will prevail among our support. For Dumbarton, it has been a hit and miss season which has ultimately seen that we will play in League One again for at least a further year.

We miss the challenges that the Championship provided us with, and it remains our intention to return there as soon as possible.

We are pleased to have avoided a second consecutive relegation – which happened the last time the club was relegated from the second tier.

But now the big push begins.

It was with optimism that we headed to East Fife for our opening league fixture this season on Saturday 4th August. After winning that game 2-0, who could have blamed us for feeling even more confident?

After that, this season became frustrating. A series of injuries to players meant that our previous manager had to re-shape the team any number of times, even after sponsorship was secured to make further additions to the squad.

At the end of the first quarter of the season, we had eight points from a possible 27 in a division into which we were newly relegated. While the injury situation was fully borne in mind, this position was deemed unacceptable.

It resulted in the hugely regrettable course of action we took on Monday 8th October, relieving a man of a job he worked hard at and had enjoyed many successes in since May 2015. Regardless of team performance, the process we undertook that day is never a palatable one.

Twelve days later, we welcomed Jim Duffy as manager, and as debuts go, a 4-0 win over East Fife was not a bad way to start!

But our new boss still had the same circumstances to work in as his predecessor, which resulted in the season continuing to be hit and miss. Even through the recent run of results, we have gone into matchdays with as many as five players missing.

However, the bottom line is that our final league position does not match where we aspired to finish when we started the season back in August.

While we are disappointed, we are also optimistic after a bright ending to the season which has only seen two defeats sustained since Saturday 12th January.

Under Jim’s management we have seen tangible progress made, with the boss having the benefit of the January transfer window to bring in players who have helped improve results.

We have also seen good performances from players who were already at the club when Jim arrived in October.

Jim, of course, was also announced this morning as League One manager of the month for the second time in three months.

And Calum Gallagher, a player who has ended the season putting in some fine performances, is the league’s top player. Congratulations of course to both.

While all players have made a contribution, there is one who is worthy of particular mention. It is not every season – in fact, it is rarely any season – that the club has a player nominated for a divisional award by the PFA Scotland.

Dom Thomas will find out tomorrow evening if he has been named top player in League One by the players’ union. It is fair to say that his loan move from Kilmarnock has worked out to the extent that he could have his own goal of the season competition!

We wish Dom the best of luck tomorrow – if it was up to us, we know who would win the award!

Unfortunately Dom is one of a number of players who we know we have seen the last of in a Dumbarton jersey – at least for now.

He will return to Kilmarnock after the expiry of his loan, and the same goes for David Ferguson with Ayr United, Ben Armour with Morton and Henk Van Schaik with Livingston. We wish them all well and assure them of a warm welcome should they return with those clubs – at least until 2.59pm on a Saturday.

Whether signed or on loan, whether they played one game or all 36, we wish to record our thanks to every single one of our playing staff for their efforts this season.

So what happens next?

Talks have already taken place between our board of directors and our manager, Jim Duffy, regarding plans for next season, and a further meeting is planned for this week.

Once these talks have concluded, the manager will begin the process of assembling a squad which he feels will compete hard at the top end of League One next season.

Unfortunately this will mean that Jim has to deliver bad news to some players. They may feel that their performances merit another year’s deal with the club; Jim may disagree.

This is a process which, even after 30 years as a manager, Jim still finds tough. No doubt you, the fans, will have players who you are sorry to see go as well.

However, this is a necessary process if we are to go into season 2019/20 with a stronger squad. It is also one that we completely trust Jim with.

We maintain what we have said previously – Jim will be backed to the fullest financial extent possible by the board of directors. He will not be refused any funds which are still within our budget.

How big will that budget be?

That, to an extent, depends on you, the fans.

While the forthcoming prize money from the SPFL will go a long way, as will sponsorship, so will money from season ticket sales, which have already started for next season.

We have kept prices the same for adults and concessions, and it goes without saying that we hope we will see you back here next season, giving us the same loyal support as you always have done.

But while older fans must pay, we have made a huge appeal for the younger football fans of Dumbarton to follow their local team.

Admission will be FREE to supporters under 12 upon registering for a season ticket. This is an initiative that we hope will see many young fans introduced, reintroduced, or continuing to follow us.

You contact the club, provide identification, fill out a form, you have a free season ticket – it’s THAT simple.

Whatever age you are, thank you for your support this season. While we all miss football during the close season, a few weeks to recharge the batteries will be welcome.

We look forward to seeing you again next season – and hopefully giving you what you deserve for your support.

We’ll do our best to #getitrightnexttime.

Dumbarton Football Club

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