The club were one of the strongest of the nineteenth century, winning the Scottish Football League in the first two seasons of the competition. Since then the club have spent the majority of their history outside the top flight, and last played at the top level in 1985.
These men were forging a team that was to carry the name of Dumbarton to wherever football was played or talked about.
In 1873 the Club became members of the newly formed S.F.A. By 1879 Dumbarton were in their home ground of Boghead Park and staring a run of victories that chalked up an astonishing record of not losing a home game for five years. They won the Scottish Cup in 1882/3 and five times were beaten finalists. As reigning Scottish Cup holders, they met the FA Cup winners, Blackburn Olympic, and thrashed them 6-1 to be hailed as champions of Great Britain.
Through the years, with the development of the S.F.A. and the Scottish League, it has become relatively straightforward to identify a football club with a particular 'Home' ground due to the imposed requirements. This was not always the case.
As members of the S.F.A., clubs were required to have permanent pitches. This requirement did not however cover the area outside the playing area and matches could be played under their auspices provided the pitch markings met with the requirements. It was only as crowds increased and fixtures were replayed due to spectator encroachment that the home club became responsible for spectator control and had to 'rope off the playing pitch. Then clubs with serious intentions began to look for a permanent home.
In the early years all clubs moved venue on a regular basis due to the availability of pitches. Football was totally amateur and relatively disorganised and club committees showed little forethought by seeking permanent accommodation, often living game by game. With little income, clubs could not afford to enter long term commitments for the lease of land. Dumbarton Football Club were one of the first to enter into a lease, securing Boghead Park on such an arrangement in 1879. After 121 years, the club had the longest occupancy of a ground in British senior football.
Match reports were vague regarding exact venues. For a fixture between Vale of Leven and Dumbarton the venue was listed as 'a field near Alexandria'. Indeed, the first fixture at Boghead Park was played 'in a field on Boghead Road, half a mile from the town. With such vagueness, it would be foolhardy to suggest the venues used by Dumbarton can all be identified.
Prior to Boghead, it is certain Dumbarton used a number of venues as a home, some only being used in isolated instances. In 1873, fixtures were played at Meadow Park, Broadmeadow, a site now replaced by an industrial estate. From there they moved to Ropework Lane although the dates are unknown. Early in 1875 it is recorded that Alclutha , another town club, were sharing Dumbarton's ground at Ropework Lane but it is unknown how long they had been there. In September of that year, Dumbarton moved to Broomfauld Park, moving again to Lowman's Park, Glasgow Road for season 1876/7 and then to Private Park Townend the following season before setting up base at Boghead in 1879.. It is known Dumbarton played the occasional fixture at Meadow Park, home of Dumbarton Athletic, and in February 1881, a friendly against Rangers was played at Levengrove, the ground of Lennox Amateurs, as the playing surface was much better than Boghead!
In 1884 the Dunbartonshire Football Association was formed and the Dunbartonshire Cup was contested annually thereafter. In its 50 year existence, Dumbarton were the dominant force, winning the trophy on no fewer than 23 times, including the first and last contests.
The Scottish League was formed in 1890 and the very first championship was shared between Dumbarton and Rangers who tied with 29 points from 18 fixtures. Had either of the subsequent methods of separating tying teams been in force (Goal Average and Goal Difference) Dumbarton would have been the outright Champions. But the following year, they made no mistake and won the championship outright with 37 points. At that time, the League consisted of 10 teams and the first President of the Scottish League was Alex Lawrence, the Dumbarton President.
In May 1892 inflicted Rangers heaviest ever league defeat when they thrashed the Gers 6-0. In a friendly played on New Years Day 1892, Dumbarton inflicted Celtic's record home defeat with an 8-0 win at Celtic Park. This was also the first game in which goal-nets were used.
From their inception to the turn of the century, Dumbarton were one of the premier clubs in the country. During that period, 18 players earned between them 60 international caps, the record being held by James McAulay with 9 to his credit. McAulay became the first goalkeeper to be tagged 'The Prince of Goalkeepers'. He earned the first of his international caps as a forward and the rest as a goalkeeper. He only tried his hand between the sticks when the regular 'keeper John (Diver) Kennedy lost form. McAulay had the astonishing record of NEVER being on a losing international team. These were the halcyon days when Scotland's international team revolved around Dumbarton players.
By 1911, Dumbarton had won the 2nd Division championship, but there was no automatic promotion and they remained in that division. Then war broke out and football took a back seat. By the early twenties, football had returned to normality and in 1921 it was decided to introduce automatic promotion and relegation between the first and second divisions. Unfortunately this worked against Dumbarton as they, along with Queens Park and Clydebank were relegated in the first season. It was to take Dumbarton 50 years to return to the top division.
There was a brief spark of hope, when in 1951 Dumbarton won the St. Mungo Quaich, a trophy contested to celebrate the Festival of Britain. That apart, Dumbarton largely languished in the doldrums. Again, the club reached a low ebb in 1954 when the formation of a new board of directors was required to save the club from extinction. Although the extensive fund raising activities kept the club alive, it did not produce tangible on the field success.
By the mid 1960's, the club was again in trouble, and at the invitation of the board, the chairman of the Hutchison Engineering Group of Companies, Robert Robertson joined the board and brought to the club the drive and knowledge of modern planning and financing. Hutchisons acquired the controlling interest in the football club which began to go from strength to strength. In 1968, John Hosie, who had been club secretary since 1954 became full time club secretary. In December of the same year, Jackie Stewart, who had made a success of being Albion Rovers manager, came to manage Dumbarton. And so the scene was set, with the combination of finance and a proven manager.
It was obvious to everyone that a new look and spirit had arrived in Dumbarton. The dreams of nearly half a century of returning to the 1st Division became a possibility. Working towards this end, Dumbarton started to buy players who could bring the necessary experience and steadiness.
June 1970 saw ex-Celt Charlie Gallagher come to Boghead to be followed three months later by Jack Bolton from Raith Rovers. Added to talent such as Lawrie Williams, Johnny Graham, Kenny Wilson and Roy McCormack, the squad began to take shape. In October of that year, Dumbarton succumbed 4-3 after extra time to Celtic in the semi-final of the League Cup, after a 0-0 draw, also after extra time. This was against a Celtic side which only months earlier had lost the European Cup final to Feyenoord.
Season 1971-2 proved to be THE season, with promotion secured by defeating Berwick Rangers in the final fixture of the season. After a poor start, it took as run of 10 wins from the last 11 league fixtures to secure the championship. Kenny Wilson scored an amazing 42 goals, a club record, to add to the 38 he had scored the previous season.
The first season back in the top flight was always going to be tough, but it was made even tougher when, midway through, Jackie Stewart resigned to become manager of St Johnstone. The reigns were taken up by Alex Wright who had been his assistant since the start of the season. Relegation was only avoided on the last day of the season, but this was the platform Wright needed to take the club to greater heights. In the years to come, Dumbarton were able to develop their own players, players who would go on to greater things. Murdo MacLeod and Graeme Sharp gained full international honours , Ian Wallace was transferred for £1m and the McAdam brothers played for The Old Firm, on different sides.
Only with the development of the three league set up did Dumbarton have to succumb to dropping down a division again, having finished just outside the top 10 required to play in the inaugural Premier League. In the first season of the new set up Dumbarton reached the semi final of the Scottish Cup, losing 3-0 to Hearts in a replay. The next few years were disappointing before in 1983/4 the club were promoted to the Premier League, a venture which would last for one season only.
From then on, the 1980s were a matter of survival as, through a set of unfortunate circumstances, the club changed hands on three occasions. The instability led to two relegations, taking Dumbarton back to the lowest division, a position they were forced to endure for four seasons before promotion was won again, under the leadership of Billy Lamont. Again league re-construction conspired against Dumbarton and they were demoted, only to win promotion in 1994/5 at the first attempt.
Unfortunately, promotion was followed by two successive relegations which saw Dumbarton take their place in the 3rd Division in 1997/8.
Dumbarton play in gold & black strips, currently manufactured by Surridge. While these are the traditional colours of the club some of the most successful eras have seen the club play predominantly in white. In recent times the club have worn a brighter yellow, however, the new strip for the 2008/09 season sees the team return to a more golden hue.
The clubs' badge features an elephant with a castle on its back, this represents Dumbarton Rock with Dumbarton Castle upon it, Dumbarton Rock, a volcanic plug is said to resemble an elephant & the teams nickname 'The Sons' is derived from the phrase 'Sons of The Rock' a term used for those born in the town of Dumbarton.
Dumbarton play their home games at Strathclyde Homes Stadium (commonly referred to as "The Rock" by Supporters). The 2025 all seated stadium has been used since December 2000. The main (and currently only) stand is overshadowed by Dumbarton Rock & sits aside the banks of the River Leven, which makes it one of the most picturesque stadiums in the UK. Prior to that the team played at Boghead Park from 1879 until the end of the 1999/2000 season, 131 years is currently the longest a senior British club has stayed at the same grounds. in between May & November 2000 Dumbarton ground shared with Albion Rovers in Coatbridge.
Dumbarton were the first league club in Scotland to have a supporters trust, which works to strengthen the links between the club & the fans. The trust own a number of shares in the club & also has a representative on the board of directors. In recent years the club has gained a younger & louder support; the Sons Team Apache Army, who have adopted the Welsh St David's flag as their emblem.
Note: Squad numbers are not currently used in the Scottish Football League
|Jim Chapman||December 2007||present||39||14||12||13|
|Gerry McCabe||June 2006||November 2007||70||27||16||27||38.57|
|Paul Martin||December 2004||June 2006||69||12||15||37||17.39|
|Brian Fairley||March 2003||December 2004||75||33||11||31||44.00|
|David Winnie||June 2002||March 2003||36||12||6||18||33.33|
|Tom Carson||October 2000||June 2002||72||34||13||25||47.22|
|Jimmy Brown||March 1999||October 2000||71||27||10||34||38.02|
|Ian Wallace||November 1996||March 1999||105||30||26||49||28.57|
|Jim Fallon||September 1995||November 1996||51||3||6||42||5.88|
|Murdo MacLeod||1993||September 1995|
|Billy Lamont||April 1990|
|Bertie Auld||January 1988||April 1990|
|Mark Clougherty||January 1988|
|Davie Wilson||August 1985|
|Alex Wright||January 1973||May1977|
|Jackie Stewart||November 1968||January 1973|
|Ian Spence||October 1968|
|Willie Toner||October 1964|
|Jackie Fearn||May 1962||September 1984|
|Bobby Campbell||April 1961||May 1962|
|Bobby Combe||May 1959||November 1960|
|Peter McGown||May 1954||April 1959|
|William Irvine||June 1950||May 1954|
|William Guthrie||August 1946||June 1950|
|Jackie Milne||June 1945||August 1946|
|Jimmy Smith||January 1939||June 1940|
|Pat Travers||May 1921||December 1920|
|James Collins||September 1920||May 1921|
|George Livingston||March 1919||September 1920|
|James Collins||May 1914||March 1919|
Biggest league loss: 1-11 .v. Albion Rovers (1926)
Most goals in a season: Kenny Wilson (38) , 1971-72
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