Congratulations Stevie and Sparky!
BOOM, bust…and Bonnyrigg.
In those few words, you can sum up the year of 2016 for Dumbarton. In fact, you can probably sum up the final 25 days of it.
Tuesday, December 6 was an evening which will be recalled with horror for many years. For Huntly a quarter of a century ago, read Bonnyrigg Rose, the junior side who claimed a fully deserved Scottish Cup victory at Dumbarton.
Stevie Aitken left the pitch that night listening to the venom that comes the way of many a manager on the receiving end of that sort of result. Mark Docherty was one of the players he had to rehabilitate, and work together with to make things better – quickly.
Three and a half weeks later they walked off having claimed the season’s second victory over Dundee United, Sparky having scored the winner in each of them. It was also a result which made it seven points from the last nine, and put daylight between Sons and the Championship’s bottom two places.
And now, with the hearty congratulations of all at DFC and the Sons Supporters Trust, they have been rewarded for that with the league’s manager and player of the month accolades. Prizes which, four weeks ago, seemed eons away.
Boom and bust indeed. 2016 was a year when one extreme became another more times than most.
The club website’s recent countdown of the top 10 moments of the year wasn’t difficult to compile. Games which failed to make the cut included December’s victories over Queen of the South and Falkirk.
Even the goalless draw against Dundee, on only the club’s second trip into the last 16 of the Scottish Cup since the 1980s, didn’t get in.
It would, though, have been just as easy to chart the most forgettable moments of the year, and make it a countdown to match or beat several years. Conceding five goals or more four times before July was out (although none for the rest of the year). Failure to win any of six cup ties against lower league opposition, allied to two such outcomes in 2015. And Bonnyrigg – grrrr…
But everybody at DFC prefers to remember it as the year when Dundee United and St Mirren were beaten twice, one of the victories over the latter securing survival. Hibs and Falkirk, too, have left the Rock with nothing on one visit.
For every time to say ‘I was there’ in a hushed, reserved voice, there is at least one to say it with real pride.
And while we are now into a New Year, the season is only at its halfway point and its goal has not changed.
The Sons team which lost to Huntly in 1992 went on to…actually, we won’t tell you that. That campaign is being documented in Sons View this season to mark its 25th anniversary and if you don’t want to know the ending, we won’t spoil it for you.
They picked themselves up from that loss, responded and met their target. Whether the class of 2016/17 reach their goal ultimately won’t be known until May.
However, the other elements of that sentence have been done with some vigour since the evening of Tuesday, December 6. They say that if you’re going through hell, keep going and the rewards will follow. It’s happened as a result of the first class effort over recent games.
And with Hibs coming to the Rock on Saturday, nobody wants it to end yet.
Congratulations Stevie, and Mark. These are honours you have earned and fully deserve.
Twenty-four hours of football now stand between them, the rest of DFC, and an even bigger prize.
If, after the remaining 16 Championship matches, there are at least two teams below Sons in the table, there will only be one ‘B’ word for everybody.
Bring, or in full – bring on season number six in the second tier.