SONS: WHY DUMBARTON FOOTBALL CLUB DESERVES TO STAY AT THE HEART OF THE COMMUNITY

Sir Kenny Dalglish,of Liverpool, Celtic and Scotland, scores a memorable goal at Boghead.

NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY

And so the long-suffering fans of Dumbarton Football Club await the Sword of Damocles to fall.

They have hung on in expectation of the extinction of their beloved club for so many years that it was inevitable that one day the executioner would arrive at their door.

It is a sad situation though since football clubs, like local newspapers, do not really belong to individuals with money, but to communities of working class men and women.

Their ownership deserves to stay in the communities into which they were born and nurtured.

If Dumbarton FC gets the chop in order that some well-heeled persons or persons make a great deal of money from a business transaction, then that would be wrong.

Not wrong legally, of course – at least not as far as we can gather from where I am sitting now, which is just a long free kick away from once fatal Boghead.

I can still hear the much reduced sound of the crowd when the Sons take to the field of a Saturday or Sunday at their “new” stadium in the shadow of Dumbarton Rock. It was once a roar.

Although even that has been missing during the long lockdown and corona virus pandemic.

It would be morally wrong if the people’s club, which was often saved from penury by loose change thrown from the terracing into a sheet carried round the trackside at halftime by men in bunnets, were to fall into the hands of people whose primary aim was to make money.

I was occasionally one of the small boys who ran around picking up the pennies, which missed the sheet and landed on the ground beyond it.

I redirected the money into that sheet to join the generous pittance – if there ever was such an oxymoron – which had been generously donated by the crowd, many of them often unemployed workers from the shipyards and factories. Honestly, I did.

Fatal Boghead when it was in the heads and hearts of local people.

It was much-needed to pay the wages of the players and Charlie McAtear for the hire of the bus to the next away match.

Many of my contemporaries will remember Boghead with its old grandstand backing on to Silverton and the pavilion stand with the cordoned off “piggery” out the front.

Then there was the Turnberry enclosure with its backside to Long Crags.

And who can forget the wooden hut alongside it from which the teams were read out the by announcer.

He also publicly thanked the person or local company that had donated the ball for that day’s game.

When no ball had been gifted, or the person who had handed it in was no lover of publicity, the announcer would say: “The ball for today’s game has been donated by an anonymous donor. Thank you Mr Anonymous.”

Boghead was special. Fans queued up for Church Street baker Neil McAllister’s Scotch pies and a Bovril at halftime.

My Aunt Lizzie helped with the soccer sustenance. She was behind the counter every Saturday afternoon when the team were playing away from home she was the honorary clippie on the team bus.

Tell this to no one, however, I think she had a crush from afar on some of the players such as top goal scorer Hughie Gallacher or, possibly, the silky inside forward Tim Whalen. And she loved her cousin, John Heaney, who played outside left.

I often travelled with her to places such as Stranraer and Dundee when Tannadice was just as nice as heaven that you hoped it would be and Jackie Ferns was the Sons manager and Jock Hosie, the club secretary.

It didn’t matter that Dumbarton were playing in C Division at that time or that my heroes on the pitch were hardly household names.

There are still men around who were dyed in the wool fans from those great times, such as Roy Humble in Canada and Johnny Walker in Australia.

These men are in their eighties now but their first question to their families of a Saturday night has always been: “How did the Sons get on today? Have you heard the score yet?”

I genuinely fear for the future of Dumbarton Football Club.

It has been a people’s club from its inception on the night before Christmas Eve in 1872.

Club historian Jim McAllister tells me that some Dumbarton men whose normal Saturday afternoon pastime was playing shinty, went to the Recreation Ground at Queen’s Park in Glasgow, to watch a football match between Queen’s Park and Vale of Leven.

The Spiders won 3-0 that day in what was the Vale’s first ever match and the Dumbarton lads were inspired by what they saw. Two days later the Sons were born.

They played their first match on April 12, 1873, with a team made up of youths from well-known local families – McIntosh, McIntyre, McAulay, Ball, Paxton, Douglas and Bain.  John Wood, the appropriately named goalie was chosen to play between the sticks.

Football in Scotland in the 1880s became ever more popular and more organised and the fervour of the fans increased exponentially.

It was on the basis of this that today’s football was built into the lucrative industry it has become today and tournaments were arranged between Scottish and English clubs

The rest is history compiled with great writing skill and brought together with excellent illustrations by Jim McAllister and Arthur Jones, who was until he retired a librarian, writer and historian.

Happy days – the pavilion stand packed with fans at Boghead Park in the 1980s.

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