The drums were going, the flags were placed, the stage was set.
Over 2000 Dumbarton fans travelled up to Perth to see the Challenge Cup final. Meeting us there, would be an Inverness side, hoping to repeat the scenes from their Challenge Cup win in 2004 and their Scottish Cup win in 2015.
For Dumbarton, this was bigger than a diddy cup final, it was our first final in over 100 years. Our last cup final has skipped at least one generation. This was for them.
From our league positions this was anyone’s game. As Dumbarton fans waited patiently to find out if Liam Burt or Dimitris Froxylias would make it back from their internationally call ups in time, tension began to build.
Word spread slowly. Both had landed safely, it would be a race against time. Meanwhile, the fans began to sing, drink pints and share stories. Many reflecting on our win at Wales, would it be another Froxy free kick that would win it for us? Burt and Froxy made it, the crowd backing Froxy as he arrived for the warm up. Now, we wait…
The teams came out. The fans erupted. Black and gold flags were raised. People cheering. ICT fans were on their feet. There were mummers in the crowd, this could be it. The fans were on their feet. And off we went…
The first half was rather uneventful. Both teams had chances, with Iain Russell missing a header to put the Sons in front. Both teams fought for it, but Dumbarton had the better of the opportunities.
Then the second half began. The fans were energised, maybe it was the bovril. But we stood, we cheered. We were ready. It was anyone’s game.
It continued to be a back and forth game. Fans singing, drums banging, flags waving then the substitutions came. Froxy supplied a bit of magic that had been missing. More passes were connecting, Dumbarton’s transitions were improving. Then a penalty was denied for Sons. The Dumbarton fans were furious. ICT fans couldn’t have been happier. Extra time began to look inevitable.
Then, handball. Inverness were awarded a penalty. A gasp could be heard from the fans. Would this be it? A penalty would be a terrible way to lose. But no!! What a save!! It was game on. The Dumbarton fans erupted. What a fairytale. A flare went up, yellow streamed across the Dumbarton stand. It was still all to play for.
Ninety minutes came and went. “The fourth official has decided that there will a minimum of 3 minutes added time.” Extra time surely beckoned. Legs were tired, those three minutes were long. Children asking what happens if it stays 0-0. Older fans relishing the idea of another 30 minutes. Shouts of “Come On Dumbarton” echoed around the stadium, follow by the chants from the ICT fans. It had been a well fought game, no one could denied that.
And in the last minute, a rush up the field, a pass across the goal, and it was in. Heartbreak. ICT had done it. There was 30 seconds left, it wasn’t long enough. Inverness won the cup.
Dumbarton fans across the stadium stood to applaud. To remember. Your dad would be proud people said. We played for our jerseys. This game wasn’t just for the current fans. It was for the generation of fans that went before and the ones that will come after us. Yes, Inverness won the cup, but Dumbarton will continue to be the best part time team in Scotland. And we will always be proud to be Sons and Daughters of the Rock.
Until next time, Challenge Cup.