Dumbarton fans determined to keep Sons alive and kicking
The existing Sons’ stadium, the dream site in Renton Road, Simon Barrow (centre) and Helensburgh solicitor John Steele, the new club chairman.
Fans of Dumbarton Football Club are far from dismayed at the decision of West Dunbartonshire Council to refuse the club planning permission for a new stadium on the banks of the River Leven between Dalreoch and Dalmoak.
The Sonstrust, a fans’ group, claim local press reports of “gloom and doom” amongst supporters are wide of the mark – “but the Sonstrust remains positive about our future, whichever way the location question is finally resolved, and is urging fans to play their part in moving the club forward”.
The Trust board met before the fabulous win against Dundee United on Saturday 7th April and affirmed its commitment to working in partnership with the Club board in the coming months and years, according to communications boss Simon Barrow.
He added: “Trust board members are looking in detail at what role the Sonstrust can play in helping DFC to flourish. We acknowledged big challenges on and off the pitch, and the need to rise to them by working together.
“The vote at the council meeting was very close. We will wait to see if the developers choose to resubmit an application or make an appeal.
“In the meantime, the trust remains committed to the vision of a community club with a sustainable future on and off the pitch.
“We have some imaginative ideas as to what can be done moving forward, and the trust board is beginning to flesh these out.
“Our wish is for further decisions about the club’s future to be taken carefully but without too much further delay.
“The key thing is to ensure that our fans and local people are at the heart of the direction we choose to go in.”
He added: “In short, we don’t accept at all that the planning vote ‘condemns Sons to years of decline’. With the fans, the club and the owners working together we can — and will — secure our future and make Dumbarton FC a landmark club in the local community and in Scottish football more widely.”
The Sonstrust says that changes taking place in the running of Dumbarton FC are “very welcome” and that it “greatly looks forward” to collaborating with new chairman, Helensburgh solicitor John Steele.
Mr Steele, who has had a long time behind-the-scenes role as an associate director at Dumbarton, will be leading a reshaped club board at the end of the season.
The changes are said to be in the process of being put together with the assistance of current chairman Les Hope, and in conversation with the owners. The Sonstrust is also being consulted and involved.
The Sonstrust website reports that the incoming chairman wants Dumbarton FC to be “a pioneering community club” on the west coast of Scotland and is urging everyone to work together to that end.
Sonstrust chairman Brian Payne commented: “We very much welcome John Steele’s appointment, the commitment to engage fans and the trust moving forward, and the positive stance the club is taking in challenging circumstances.
“No-one underestimates the task we face on and off the pitch right now — but six years in the Championship, a Cup Final, being Scotland’s best part-time team, deepening relationships in the community, growing commercial creativity, and the commitment of everyone who loves the Club shows what we are capable of.
“John’s positive message, combined with considerable experience and realism, sounds just the right note. We welcome the spirit of constructive change and look forward to working with the new chairman and with the Club board in the coming weeks, months and years ahead.”
Meanwhile, the Sonstrust are on the lookout for musical and performing groups or individuals to help with enhancing the matchday experience at Dumbarton FC by giving artistes a platform to showcase their talents.
David Ferguson, who is helping coordinate this project, said: “We want to raise the club profile in the Dumbarton community and work on the foundations we’ve laid with respect to being more focused on what fans want at a match.
“Attendance at a game now is so much more than just the match itself. We need to retain our existing support and try and attract a new generation of fans. We have to do these things for ourselves, with the club’s full support of course.
“Part of the process will be to provide a platform for local bands or artists to come along and play in front of DFC fans and I’ll be delighted to hear from anyone who can help.”
David Ferguson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org