Growing up my Grandad, who lived in Balloch, would always sing a song about Dumbarton anytime I mentioned the football team. I can’t remember the exact tune but it contained lines about ‘sons of the rock’ and a reference to ‘everybody licking them’. This has nothing to do with my Dumbarton report card but I thought I would mention it anyway.
Dumbarton had a very positive 2016/17 campaign. They finished 8th under Stevie Aitken and impressed in key games over the course of the season. Much like last year they underwent a huge squad transformation over the summer but they knew they could rely on the hard-work and dedication of their manager to see them through the season. Many fans of Scottish football are maybe a little surprised that Aitken has not been offered a full-time post somewhere else but at the moment the arrangement works out for everyone involved at Dumbarton. They have one of the best managers in the league and regardless of their recruitment over the summer it was always going to be the case that they have the right man to get the best out of the players at the club. It has been a fantastic few years for The Sons but fans know that Aitken will probably be headhunted in the not too distant future.
As for the season so far it has been all pretty positive. Dumbarton sit nine points ahead of 9th place and are in the semi-final of the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup (they have every reason to be confident that they can go on and win the thing). The league highpoint is definitely the 1-0 away win in Paisley against free-scoring St.Mirren but the Sons have only won four games so far and a lack of firepower is costing them some potential points. One big concern for Sons fans should be the quite alarming amount of goals that have been conceded from set-pieces. A huge number of points have been lost due to sloppy defending and they must address this going forward.
January Wishlist – With a fairly balanced squad there is no real need for any panic buys in January. The squad could do with a little more competition going forward and a striker will be the number one priority. The real wish in January for some at the club will be the decisions on the new stadium proposals at Young’s Farm. A new stadium, new pitches, new commercial opportunities and a new community hub are all part of the proposals and the next planning stage is due for consideration towards the end of January. Not all fans are behind the proposed move and I can’t really speak on behalf of any Dumbarton fan but it could be the start a turbulent period in the club’s history if approved.
Player of the Season (so far) – A couple of contenders here. Despite being signed after the start of the season the short number of appearances by Dimitris Froxylias have been impressive. Probably in terms of impact, and in recognition of younger talent, it has to be said that young winger Tom Walsh has been a standout for Dumbarton. On his day he is probably the best player in this side and he has been attracting interest from two or three teams who might try to put in a bid for his services in January. Holding on to him until the summer will be vital.
Predicted Finish – 9th. A bit controversial this one. I know that Dumbarton are comfortably ahead of Falkirk at the minute but I fully expect a complete squad overhaul for Paul Hartley’s side and I think that we might see a resurgence in their form. It will be tight but I wonder if Dumbarton might slip into a playoff spot at the tail end of the season (especially if they keep shipping soft goals). I would fully expect them to win any potential playoff if they do end up in 9th.
Manager Grade – A. Stevie Aitken continues to work magic with recruitment and game management. He says himself that he is happy concentrating on his job at Dumbarton but truth be told if a bigger job (and maybe more importantly a full-time job) comes along then he may well move on. After a very impressive few seasons with Stranraer and now Dumbarton it has to be said that he probably deserves the opportunity at a full-time managerial post. Holding on to Aitken will be one of the biggest challenges ahead for Dumbarton.
Overall Grade – B. Nothing but general positivity here. Dumbarton fans, especially those who are beyond their teens, will be savouring a period of time in which they can rely on their side to provide a strong challenge to all of the other Championship clubs; it hasn’t always been like this. By the very nature of football things may not last forever but certainly at the moment the fans can feel very satisfied about their team.