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John (Ian) Blair

September 25, 2016

We are saddened to report that Sonstrust member John (Ian) Blair has died.

John was a stalwart DFC supporter and he will be missed by his extended Sons family.

The trust send their deepest sympathies and condolences to John’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Trust Travel – Kirkcaldy – Confirmed

September 19, 2016

 

Thanks to a kind offer of sponsorship, our travel section will after all be able to organise a fans bus to Kirkcaldy on Sat 24th!

Bus now departs Church St at 12.30pm.

Our usual booking procedure applies – 4 ways!

1. Call Tommy Hughes on 07710 771341
2. E-mail memsecy@sonstrust.net
3. Use our dedicated Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/719497688160601/
4. Leave a comment on this post

Andy Is MoM

September 19, 2016

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Trust member Fraser McKean chose Sons winger Andrew Stirling as his MoM for his performance against St Mirren last Saturday.

Fraser is picture here post-match with Andrew.

Pic by Tommy Hughes

Volunteers still sought for man of the match picks this season. Fancy adding to the post game debate by picking your stand out Son at our 16/17 home matches? Now is your chance… contact Alistair Thorn.

Trust Travel – Raith Rovers

September 16, 2016

WEEK 7 of the league season has Sons travelling to Kirkcaldy to play Raith Rovers (24th Sep)

We ARE planning a supporters bus, but as has been the norm of late, bookings have been slow to the point that we will need to make an early decision and this will in all likelihood be Monday 19th Sep.

The message with the supporters’ bus is clear – USE IT OR LOSE IT.

Our usual booking procedure applies – 4 ways!

1. Call Tommy Hughes on 07710 771341
2. E-mail memsecy@sonstrust.net
3. Use our dedicated Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/719497688160601/
4. Leave a comment on this post

 

Colt teams – the irritant that will not go away

September 8, 2016

CHRISTMAS is coming. Only 108 days away, to be precise.

Soon the wishlists will be getting drawn up. Think of all the games you could get.

If, over the coming weeks, there is a board version of ‘Whack-a-Mole’, you could maybe ask for that.

Because as a Scottish football fan, right now you’re getting good practice.

Colt teams in the lower leagues. They’ve been mentioned before and the fans didn’t like it. Some threatened that it would be the last straw.

This season, we’ve now had such sides in the Irn Bru Cup. Felt by many to be water-testing for getting them into the league. But many of us just didn’t want to think about it.

Now, after this week’s newspaper stories, it is indeed on the agenda. Let’s face it, we were kidding ourselves if we thought it would be limited to the cup.

Just when you think colt teams are forgotten about, safely shouted down, they’re back again. And again.

This is clearly something that two of our top flight clubs are determined to push through. Maybe more who just haven’t said anything yet. All in the name of giving young players a chance to progress, of course.

Only one thing they’re forgetting. The fans don’t want the colt teams. Never have, never will. Not wanted, not needed.

Why is this? Why is it such a bad idea?

Let’s take the analysis of our good friend, Mr Neil Doncaster, the chief executive of the guardians of the game, the SPFL. All of these were attributed to him by a national newspaper on Wednesday, September 7.

“We’ve already seen interest created by the colt teams playing in the early rounds (of the Irn Bru Cup).”

Quite right, Neil – as evidenced by the bumper attendance figures at the ties involving these clubs.

There are 119 spectators who can proudly say they were there when Hamilton Accies under-20s beat Cumbernauld Colts 3-0 in round one. A total of 190 people crammed into Cove Rangers’ ground to see them play Dundee under-20s, while at Hampden, less than 300 saw Queen’s Park play Kilmarnock’s colts.

As for the first round ties involving the “box office” Old Firm teams, 493 people saw Rangers beat Stirling University, while Celtic’s game with Annan Athletic attracted a massive 216 people.

In total, the attendances at the 12 first round ties involving colt teams came to 3,817. That’s an average of a shade over 318 per tie. Yep, massive interest, Neil.

Getting back to your critique: “If you look at Spain or Germany, both of these very successful leagues have colt teams playing in the lower reaches of these leagues.”

Perhaps those leagues are successful because of the money ploughed into them? Just a thought. And they are two of four leagues which were, disgracefully, recently granted a guaranteed four places in the Champions League group stage.

The other two, England and Italy, don’t. It’s never stopped them.

But Neil really outdoes himself here: “The general view is that this structure helps player development, having talented young players competing against seasoned professionals; it helps them.”

It helps player development, does it? Wow.

Just in case you missed it, Neil, none of these colt teams lasted more than three ties in the Irn Bru Cup. Only one of them survived more than two.

Not exactly the sign of teams who can compete with, as you put it, seasoned professionals.

However, the real laugh is from the idea that these teams would actually be used to develop players to progress to the first team.

You can just imagine Brendan Rodgers, Mark Warburton, Derek McInnes – any of them, sitting in his office.

And thinking: “This guy’s been playing really well against League Two opposition, even though his team has been getting beaten more often than they’ve won.

“I think I’ll give him a game in the first team in a must-win game next week.”

Pull the other one. This would simply be an opportunity for young players to wear the shirt, with about as much chance of first team football as they’ve got now.

You want them to play competitive football? Play them in the first team. It is REALLY not that difficult.

Since the introduction of the SPL, our top division has become some sort of refuge for players who aren’t wanted down south, or are sent out on loan.

It’s a poor relation, in terms of player quality, to the English Premier League. Another division which fails to help its national team.

England have been knocked out of the 2014 World Cup at the group stage, and beaten by Iceland at Euro 2016. And they STILL don’t get it.

The multi-million pound signings are good for the spectators and fantastic for the media. But Sam Allardyce must be wondering what he’s got himself into by accepting the England job.

In time, through little fault of his own, he’ll go the same way as Roy Hodgson. He’ll be made a scapegoat for England’s failings when, in reality, it’s the Harlem Globetrotter domestic league which isn’t doing its bit when it comes to player development.

About the only talking head who raised this after the Iceland defeat was Alan Shearer, who did exactly the same when they went out of Euro 2012 to Italy. They didn’t listen then and they haven’t listened so far now.

But that’s beside the point.

Run those first three words past us again, Neil. “The general view”?

The wide opinion is that it would be a positive?

Have a look at social media. Take in all the negative feedback that there’s been to these proposals.

These are from the fans, Neil. The people who plough their money into the product you’re supposed to market (LOL).

They didn’t like it when colt teams were first mentioned some years ago. They made their views known.

And here we are again. They still don’t like it. They know as well as anybody that any such move would compromise the integrity of Scottish football and devalue the lower leagues.

The divisions which, in many cases, they’ve spent decades following their team in, and possibly kept their clubs going.

There are only so many times their patience can be tested before they decide that the right thing to do is to walk away.

It would be a total last resort and, should it come to pass, a painful decision. A passion which has lasted most of their lifetimes would be over through a self-inflicted action.

But when their wishes are continually treated with contempt, what other course of action is there?

The fans, though, are not the ones who make the decisions here. The SPFL are.

If the clubs – for they are the SPFL – want to bring in colt teams to be regularly beaten by more experienced sides, in front of an average crowd of 318, that’s up to them.

But they’ll do it without many of the people who make the game what it is. The fans.

They’ve had enough of being alienated and ignored. And for many, this may be it.

So what matters more? ‘Development’ sides in the lower leagues or the continued participation of hundreds of fans? It’s nearly certain you can’t have both.

Over to the clubs.

What do you think? Share your opinions by using the comments section below.

The Irn Bru Cup – the ruination which will drive fans away

September 2, 2016

IT’S never been Dumbarton’s forte. But it’s been something we’d struggle without.

Tomorrow, the road to the final of another Challenge Cup – or the Irn Bru Cup as it is now – begins for Sons at Stranraer.

It’s Stevie Aitken’s first game back at Stair Park since coming to the Rock last year. That already adds intrigue to it.

And it’s a cup tie. A chance for Dumbarton to make progress towards the final of, let’s face it, the only knock-out competition they could realistically win as a part-time club.

There have been some real positives served up since the competition was introduced in 1990.

We were Elgin City’s first-ever opponents in the competition, winning 4-2 at Borough Briggs in 2000 as Paddy Flannery scored the only hat-trick we’ve ever scored in the Challenge Cup.

Stephen Grindlay made his Dumbarton debut in it when we beat East Fife 1-0 in 2002. His third game for the club was a 3-0 victory over First Division Ayr United in a game which had as many red cards as it did goals.

That meant we reached the quarter finals, where we lost to Queen of the South, who went on to win the tournament.

And although we’d rather not have been in the position, who can forget Pat Walker’s injury time winner to beat East Stirlingshire 3-2 in 2011, having had a 2-0 lead wiped out?

Unfortunately, those victories, and last season’s 3-2 win over Morton, are the sum of Dumbarton’s success in the competition’s 26-year history.

On average, we’ve won one tie every five years the competition has been staged – it wasn’t contested in season 1998/99. Two of the five victories were in the same season.

As flagged up elsewhere, the competition really hasn’t been a strong point for Dumbarton over the years. There have been unlucky days, there have been games where we just haven’t been good enough on the day.

But it’s still something we’ve looked forward to year in, year out.

It’s been the only realistic chance that clubs outside the top flight have of lifting a major trophy – though Hibs made a mockery of that statement at Hampden in May.

And in recent years, it’s been the match that signals the start of the competitive league season. The Challenge Cup was the first game of the campaign and the day when we could say goodbye garden, adios Asda, football was back to fill our Saturday afternoons.

So, despite a not-particularly-stellar record in the competition, it’s still something we’ve looked forward to. There’s always the hope it might be our year, and it’s remained a competition of value.

Until this season.

In bygone years, tomorrow’s game at Stranraer would have had the usual Sons away support hammering down the A77, dreaming of cup glory.

Instead, there is no supporters’ bus, and some of our most loyal home and away fans are missing the game entirely by choice. A win at Stair Park will be welcomed, but a defeat will simply be met with a shrug of the shoulders in many areas.

Why is this the outlook? Because the SPFL, the guardians of our game, made changes to the tournament during the close season which the fans thought they’d never see.

Premiership under-20 teams, four clubs who don’t even play club football in Scotland – is this REALLY how you treat a competition taken seriously by so many clubs who don’t get anywhere near the final of your other two tournaments?

The colt teams have been such a success this season that of the 12 who entered in round one, only one of them has survived to round three.

It is of course the wide opinion that this is the water being tested ahead of these teams’ entry into league competitions. A thought so unpalatable to many fans that it may well prove the tipping point.

And as for the assertion that it is to give young players a taste of competitive action…oh please. The clubs have teams which are designed to give their youngsters a taste of competitive action. It’s called the first team.

As for the four newcomers from outside Scotland, travelling to face whom will cost lower league clubs a fair whack.

No disrespect at all to Bala Town, The New Saints, Crusaders or Linfield. Whoever they play, Dumbarton or otherwise, will take them on just as they would any other team. But just what are they doing there?

Apparently it’s something to do with improving our relations with the football associations of Wales and Northern Ireland. Why does this need done, exactly?

Is it so that they’ll turn round and go: “See this player we’re developing? He’s really good. The next Gareth Bale. But he’s got a Scottish granny. You have him for your national team.”

Is there even anything wrong with our relationships with these associations that something needs done to improve them? News to many people if so.

The fans, who make the game what it is, don’t like it and tomorrow, Dumbarton will play a competitive match in front of a handful of diehard fans. Other supporters, some of whom rarely miss a game, will choose a Jeff Stelling Saturday.

To the fans who are going tomorrow – well done. Hope you have a good day out and your efforts are rewarded.

And to the players and management – good luck. This is a competitive game and all victories are a positive.

But should no victory be registered tomorrow, let the collective “so what” tell you everything. Not out of any spite towards the team, entirely out of spite towards the competition.

Down south, the EFL Trophy has been made into a group stage format with academy teams from the Premier League and Championship.

The first fixtures were played in that this week. Managers approve so much that they named themselves on the bench – there’s an idea for you, Stevie!

And the crowd figures say it all about what the fans think. There were 392 at Fleetwood and 461 at AFC Wimbledon – both of those for games involving academy teams.

With such a response, surely this format of the competition will prove to be a one-season wonder.

It would be nice to think the same of this season’s Irn Bru Cup, in view of the fans’ feedback. If only you could trust the SPFL to take it on board.

Trust Travel v Stranraer – Cancelled

August 24, 2016

 

UNFORTUNATELY thanks to a severe lack of interest in the Irn Bru Cup, bookings for the proposed supporters bus to DFC’s tie at Stranraer have been poor, leaving us with no choice but to cancel our plans.

Apologies.

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