Dumbarton: Part-time Sons still surviving in Scotland's second tier

Dumbarton celebrate securing their Championship status
Dumbarton celebrate securing their Championship status

Dumbarton are staying up, again.

That's five successive seasons the Sons - a part-time club - have preserved their place in Scottish football's second tier.

Quite a feat in a Championship that's contained the likes of Hearts, Rangers, Hibernian and Falkirk over the last couple of years.

Stevie Aitken's men did it with two games to spare, thanks to Livingston's defeat at Queen of the South and a screamer of a winner against St Mirren by Sons' striker Garry Fleming.

And there to watch it all...six 'Swiss Sons' who had travelled over 1,000 miles from Zurich to watch their beloved team.

"We've had bad days with Dumbarton, but that's definitely one of the best," said one. "Forget about Cristiano Ronaldo, we've got Garry Fleming!"

Six Swiss Dumbarton fans who travelled from Zurich
Six Swiss Dumbarton fans travelled from Zurich to watch them play St Mirren

Manager Stevie Aitken, who will take his side to Hibernian on Tuesday before finishing their campaign at Alloa, admits Saturday's crucial win over St Mirren brought relief after a challenging season.

"It feels fantastic because it was a tough ask," he said. "This league's the hardest it's been for years; it's so competitive.

"We didn't want it to go to the last game of the season, we wanted to finish it in front of our own supporters. Financially, to be in the Championship is terrific for this club.

"It's so difficult for part-time teams in this division. The players have all got jobs and apart from Alloa, every week we're going up against teams who are full-time and who spend three hours a day together working on things."

Dumbarton manager Stevie Aitken
Aitken has guided Dumbarton to safety in his first season at the club

For the players, another season in the Championship - Dumbarton are eight points clear of ninth-placed Livingston, with only two games left - should mean renewed deals for the majority of the squad.

"Hopefully it means that the contracts are going to be there for most of the boys," said midfielder Mark Docherty, who was at Alloa last season.

"Players will come and go - that's how football works - but I think all of the boys have had a great season and worked hard together and got there in the end.

"The last few years I've been involved with part-time clubs in the Championship and it's tough. It's looking like Dundee United are going to be in it next season - another big club - along with Hibs or Falkirk."

Mark Docherty (centre) helped put Dumbarton back on track against St Mirren
Mark Docherty (centre) helped put Dumbarton back on track against St Mirren

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