THE ROCK’S 100 GREATEST GAMES – NO. 2

Thursday 16th July 2020

IT’S time to find out what the runner-up is in our countdown of the 100 greatest games to be played at the Rock.

Supporters Graeme Robertson, Jack Crawford, Fraser Clarke and Andy Galloway have compiled the series, which has been decided by average individual placings.

Today we revisit an afternoon of remarkable drama which completed our first full season at what is now the C&G Systems Stadium, in 2002.

The Rock’s greatest game, according to our panel, will be published tomorrow at 10am.

2. Dumbarton 1-1 Queen’s Park – Saturday, April 27, 2002

It was all so simple. Having not dropped a point at home since January 12, all Dumbarton had to do was beat the team at the bottom of their league.

What could possibly go wrong? An unimaginable amount, which nearly did in a short space of time towards the end of the afternoon.

With less than 15 minutes left, not only were Sons winning, the one team who remained in the race to beat them to promotion were losing and seemingly out of sight.

That made an equaliser for Queen’s Park a bit easier to absorb. But nobody could have pictured what was about to happen.

After being thrashed 5-0 at home by Montrose on that January afternoon, Dumbarton had won all seven subsequent home fixtures. That run was a key part of their surge to second place, behind champions Brechin City.

Nerves were frayed in the first half, but were eased slightly by the surprise news that Albion Rovers were behind at home to Elgin City.

Copyright Fullarton Photos 2002

Then, a minute into the second half, a foul on Paddy Flannery brought a penalty. He converted and as long as Dumbarton remained in front, they could not be caught.

And when Elgin scored a second at Cliftonhill, that seemed to be that. Even if Sons were to go behind, perish the thought, Albion Rovers would need to score at least three.

A draw would do for Dumbarton as long as Rovers did not run in an avalanche of goals, the possibility of which had now all but evaporated.

With 11 minutes left came the first moment of turbulence. Stevie Jack’s foul on Ross Jackson in the area was punished and Johnny Whelan levelled for Queen’s Park from the spot.

Then, incredible news from Cliftonhill. Albion Rovers had scored twice in two minutes and the two games that mattered were now all square.

And in the last minute, the visitors’ Chris Fisher went to ground under a challenge from John McKeown and referee John Gilmour was pointing to the spot for a third time.

If this went in, and Albion Rovers could find a third, the dream would crumble. It would be Whelan to try again.

As moments of stepping up to the plate go, keeper John Wight delivered one of the best. He flung himself the same way as Whelan put the ball and got a strong enough hand to it to keep it out.

Unbelievably, at the same time, Albion Rovers keeper Chris Fahey, up for a corner, was having a shot cleared off the line.

A draw was enough, as both games finished level. We had sailed so close to the wind. But we were there, in the Second Division (now League One).

Our first full season at the Rock had ended in promotion.

Dumbarton: Wight; Bonar, Brittain (Dillon 49), Jack, McKeown, Dunn (McKelvie 88), Crilly, O’Neill, Flannery, Brown, Robertson. Subs: Connolly; Dickie, Lynes.

Queen’s Park: Mitchell; Bruce, Borland (Canning 56), Collins, White, Ferry, Quinn (Clark 61), Whelan, Martin (Fisher 53), Jackson, Marshall. Subs: Smith; Cunningham.

Referee: John Gilmour.

Leave a comment