Dundee FC 2 Dundee United 1 (the Doon Derby), May 2nd 2016

Introduction

I am the match reporter for Dundee FC’s website. It’s just an unpaid hobby and it’s hugely enjoyable. The club implemented a new website for the start of the 2016/17 season, which meant that the old reports on the former website were lost. I was chatting about this to Kenny Ross, club historian and chairman of the Dundee FC Supporters Association. I suggested that it would be a good idea to publish some of the old match reports on my blog. Where better to start than the final derby of last season when Dundee beat their city rivals United to consign them to relegation? Kenny agreed enthusiastically, so here is the report, exactly as it appeared on Dundee FC’s website on the night of May 2nd 2016.

The report

Dundee defeated local rivals Dundee United 2-1 in the final derby of the season, and for at least a year, at Dens tonight. On a night of emotion, drama, elation and tears Edward Ofere put United ahead early in the second half only for the Dark Blues to peg them back with Kosta Gadzhalov’s first goal for the Dee. A draw would still have sent United down to the Championship, but local lad Craig Wighton hammered the final nail into their coffin, and lifted the Dee back to 7th place in the table, with a winner three minutes into injury time.

The Dark Blues were unchanged following their win at Partick Thistle last week. United made three changes; Blair Spittal, Simon Murray and Edward Ofere replaced Guy Demel, Ryan Dow and Billy McKay.

United kicked off in a fever pitched atmosphere with both sets of fans turning the volume up to 11. Paul Dixon’s early bad foul on Greg Stewart left the Dee forward dumped on the touchline requiring treatment, a sight that only cranked up the noise.

The Dee made all the early running against a nervous United defence that always looked accident prone. Kane Hemmings had the first shot on target, from a Nick Ross cutback, but it lacked the power to trouble Kawashima.

Dundee’s dreadful luck with injuries in this season’s derbies continued when Paul McGowan took a heavy tackle and was forced out of the game after 15 minutes. Julen Etxabeguren replaced him and moved straight into midfield to leave the formation unchanged.

Dundee were keen to feed the ball as much as possible to Stewart on the right where United looked vulnerable. When Stewart moved inside Paul McGinn was always keen to exploit the vacant space on the wing. A good run and cross by the full back had United’s defence all at sea, but Dixon just managed to turn the cross out of danger.

Five minutes from the break the Dark Blues passed up their best chance of the first half. Dixon lost the ball to Stewart, who quickly moved it on for Nick Ross to send Hemmings clear. With only Kawashima to beat the Dee’s top scorer lashed his shot over the bar from 15 yards.

At half time neither set of fans could be entirely happy with the first half. United had done little to suggest that they would secure the win they needed to avoid relegation on the night. Dundee, on the other hand, hadn’t created as much danger in the away penalty area as they should have done after dominating the first 45 minutes against an unhappy United defence.

Dundee looked like maintaining their dominance in the first few minutes after the break, but it was United who took the lead after 53 minutes. Simon Murray broke down the left and found John Rankin whose low cross was stabbed past Bain by Edward OFERE from eight yards out.

The goal transformed the game. A nervous and diffident United team were given a huge injection of confidence and energy. The Dark Blues were rattled and struggled to get back into the game. Dundee managed the odd attack, but for the next 20 minutes United looked fully capable of killing the game with a second goal.

United attacked aggressively, but Dundee’s defence prevented them creating clear chances, though there was no shortage of nervous moments for the home fans when the ball was in the Dee’s penalty area. Mark Durnan got his head to a corner, but his effort was too gentle giving Ross ample time to clear it off the line.

With 15 minutes to Scott Bain made the save that turned the game and allowed the Dee to seal their neighbours’ fate. Kyle Knoyle’s through pass sent Ofere clear, but Bain spread himself to block. Dundee might have been two goals down, but within a minute they were level.

Gary Harkins won a corner, which he floated into the goalmouth, where Kosta GADZHALOV’s downward header found its way through a ruck of players and into the net, with Hemmings getting involved to distract the defenders.

United have often been accused of lacking spirit and reacting badly to adversity this season, but there was nothing wrong with their determined response to the goal.

The Dee were forcred on the back foot for a few minutes. First, Scott Bain pulled off a superb save to touch Erskine’s blistering shot over the bar. Then Dundee had to survive a frantic couple of minutes as a series of United corners had the home defence under furious pressure.

Dundee soon got to grips with the game and looked increasingly dangerous as United opened up pushing for the winner they desperately needed. It was Kawashima’s turn to pull out a great save, denying Hemmings whose header from Stewart’s cross seemed destined for the top corner. The Japanese keeper saved again from Etxbeguren’s header from a corner as the tension mounted.

The pressure affected the players in the last few minutes as the game became increasingly bad tempered, with a series of bad fouls, bookings and angry exchanges.

In injury time Hemmings broke clear on the right, but couldn’t find Harkins with his pass inside. In the Dee’s next attack Hemmings tried to go outside Sean Dillon but was fouled just outside the right side of the penalty area. With the defence expecting a shot or a cross into the goalmouth, Greg Stewart caught everyone out by rolling the ball across for Craig WIGHTON to score with a crisp low drive across goal and inside the far post from 16 yards.

With 93 minutes on the clock the goal triggered utter jubilation in the home stands. There was no time for United to fight back, and next season the Dee will be playing in a higher division than their great local rivals for the first time since 1960.

Dundee were some way short of their best, but they showed great character to dig out a win that keeps them at the top of the bottom six and means they have matched their highest points total in the top division since the inception of the 38 game season with a split back in 2000.

Paul McGowan’s injury was a big blow and certainly affected Dundee’s play tonight. His partnership with Nick Ross in central midfield has been vital. When that pair play well the whole team plays well. Julen Etxabeguren did well as a makshift holding midfielder, but he lacked McGowan’s ability to set up attacks.

This was a tough and emotional night, and ultimately it was the Dundee players who held their nerves to earn the win. For the fourth derby this season the team that scored first failed to win. Dundee have come from behind to win both derbies at Dens. That is always special, but tonight such a spirited fightback was particularly prized by the Dark Blues’ noisy and gleeful support.

Dundee FC 4-2-3-1

Bain
McGinn, Gadzhalov, O’Dea, Holt
McGowan (Etxabeguren 15), Ross
Stewart, Harkins (c), Wighton
Hemmings

Unused subs: Mitchell (gk), Konrad, Meggatt, Arturo, Colquhoun, Curran.

Goals: Gadzhalov (76), Wighton (90+3)

Booked: Bain (dissent), Stewart (foul on Dixon), O’Dea (confronting Paton).

Dundee United FC 4-4-2

Kawashima
Knoyle, Dillon, Durnan, Dixon
Fraser (Dow 61), Paton, Rankin, Spittal (McKay 85)
Murray (Erskine 72), Ofere

Unused subs: Zwick (gk), Morris, Anier Donaldson.

Goal: Ofere (53).

Booked: Dixon (foul on Stewart), Paton (foul on Wighton), Kawashima (confronting Stewart) Dillon (foul on Hemmings).

Referee: Willie Collum. Assistants: Frank Connor, Dougie Potter. Fourth official: John McKendrick.

Attendance: 10,088 (1,940 away fans)

Report: James Christie

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Are Rangers a new club?

When Rangers were liquidated in 2012 there were two nagging questions left unresolved that prompted endless arguments amongst football supporters. Were the Rangers club that kicked off in July 2012 a new club (as Dundee skipper Gary Harkins has suggested)? And should titles be stripped from Rangers because their use of Employee Benefit Trusts, which attracted the ire of HM Revenue & Customs, amounted to cheating?

The second question is a genuinely difficult and complex issue that requires consideration of tax law, Scottish FA regulations, and the rather vague notion of sporting integrity. I’m not going to touch on it here. It’s too big a topic for a short blog.

The first question, on the other hand, is deceptively simple. It can be answered easily and persuasively, without recourse to liquidation legislation or SFA regulations. It has appeared complex only because Rangers supporters are reluctant to concede any ground whatsoever, and their opponents are happy to pick up any stick with which they can whack the fallen giant.

In summary, the Rangers fans are right, but for the wrong reasons. The anti-Rangers faction are also right, but for reasons that don’t matter, or really should not matter to football fans. It might be more apt to say the Rangers’ enemies are wrong but for the right reasons.

The legal opinion on whether Rangers are a new club hangs on the question of whether the club and the limited company are distinct legal entities. The legal opinion is complex and irrelevant. No Rangers supporters would change their minds if a judge issued an awkward verdict. The Rangers support has been fighting the wrong battle in arguing that the limited company and the club are legally separate, and that the club can therefore survive the death of the company. That seems arguable as a point of law, and the opponents of Rangers have been revelling in their opportunity to pose as legal experts in order to wind up the establishment club. However, if you backed any true football supporter into a corner, they would acknowledge that a club is not defined by its articles of association as a company.

Limited companies are a lousy model for forming football clubs. They concentrate power in the hands of a few, who are barely accountable to the community they should represent. A football club can be bought and sold in absurd haste, with no adequate scrutiny of new owners. By their nature football clubs attract dreadful owners. Rangers are a classic example, stumbling into liquidation under Craig Whyte, then being resurrected by the dodgy Charles Green’s consortium. I doubt if any Rangers supporter believes that either Whyte or Green were fitting custodians of the club and its traditions.

What defines a club is the community it represents, its supporter base along with all the nebulous but vital memories, beliefs and myths that add up to tradition. They’re summed up beautifully by this anonymous writer.

The soul of a club is the product of its history, and the history of a club is a product of those who toil in its cause, with their hearts on their sleeve as well as the badge on their chest, who play with an awareness of where they are, and in whose footsteps they tread.

These words matter because we believe them, because we believe they matter far more than any legal document. They are used to great effect in this video, nakedly emotional and heart-tugging but deeply stirring for supporters of my football club.


It is this sense of continuity and tradition that validates Rangers as a continuing club, and this is what their support should be citing, not legal opinion.

The legal arguments are a smokescreen that have obscured the essential points. As far as I’m concerned Rangers are the same club, for better or worse, because I see the same community with a strong and continuing sense of identity and tradition, only part of which is that they’re playing at the same ground in the same colours.

The legal nit-picking has let the Scottish FA off the hook. Instead of trying to justify their actions, and justify the notion that company and club are currently legally separate, they should be admitting that their governance of the game has been badly flawed and that they had to try and achieve the right outcome by means that weren’t always strictly constitutional or legally rational. The SFA’s squirming to try and reconcile the law, their regulations and the reality of Rangers’ continuing existence has been cringeworthy.

Rangers have won their battle to be recognised as the same club, but there is still a widespread, sullen refusal to accept that, and an understandable belief that the SFA’s twisting and turning reflects a refusal to apply the regulations honestly. The wider battle for competent and responsible governance is nowhere near being won. Just one feature of that struggle is the need for an honest acceptance of what a football club truly means and an acknowledgement that forming clubs as limited companies has serious disadvantages; in particular limited companies are easy meat for chancers like Whyte and Green. Supporters deserve better.

Dundee FC’s accounts & the press – a sorry mess

On Friday 27th February Dundee released their annual accounts for the year to 31st May 2014 (PDF, opens in a new tab). The club placed a statement on the club website at the same time. The result was a row and considerable confusion that perfectly illustrates how inadequate conventional financial accounts are for football supporters, and how ill-equipped the press is to deal with them.

The highlights of Dundee FC’s statement were;

“In our 2013/14 Championship winning season, the club reported a loss for the full year to 31 May 2014 of £820,000, which was a significant reduction from the previous year’s profit. That profit was earned during season 2012/13 when DFC were unexpectedly promoted to the SPL as runners-up in the previous year’s Championship. Notwithstanding this loss, after taking account of the capital injected in the business during the year, the net worth of the company improved by £100,000.”

And later.

“We continue to make steady progress as a club and are working hard within a totally debt-free environment to reduce our net balance sheet liabilities and to build our club again on a firm financial footing for the future.”

That was all any journalist needed for a quick story. There was a loss in difficult circumstances, but capital was pumped in. There isn’t any debt.

Unfortunately, the Courier tried to be clever. They followed the link in the statement to the accounts, plunged in and got lost. They got horribly, embarrassingly lost. Ignoring, or just failing to see “Loss for the year… £820,909” they focused on “Accumulated loss carried forward… £3,166,718”.

This was enough for them to write a story entitled ”Dundee FC post £3 million loss”. I didn’t capture it before they changed it, but that is an archived version. In it they wrote.

“The Dens Park side’s annual accounts up until May 31, 2014 show a loss of just over £3.1m. The figure was £2.3m the previous year.”

The only sensible reading of that is that Dundee lost £2.3m in 2012/13 and £3.1m in 2013/14. They actually made a profit in 2012/13 of £214,000 – a figure that was readily visible in the accounts. Over the two years Dundee FC lost £616,000 as opposed to the Courier’s story of £5.4m.

I’m not sure why the accounts were laid out in such a way, or why the accumulated loss was given that name. It’s accurate, but the figure is just about the least interesting number in any football club’s accounts. The accumulated figures aren’t of any more significance than the points a football club accumulates over several seasons. It’s really just a technical device to make sure everything balances, and it’s of no interest in itself. Basically it’s the figure you get if you add up all the profits and losses from the past.

Dundee FC's annual and accumulated profits/losses since 2006

Dundee FC’s annual and accumulated profits/losses since 2006

In Dundee’s case accumulated losses include the massive losses and paper profits surrounding the club’s two spells in administration. By the way, the profit in 2008 was a result of restructuring to move debt off the club’s books, and certainly wasn’t the product of a brilliant trading performance. The resulting total accumulated loss is a big “so what?”. The figure that matters is the change in the total from year to year. Yes, the profit or loss for the year, and that’s a headline figure elsewhere in the accounts, so the accumulated loss shouldn’t be anywhere near a high level press story

I tweeted to the Sports Editor, who had written the story, and the Digital Content Producer who had drawn my attention to the story via Twitter.

I didn’t get a response, but the story was quickly changed to ”Dundee FC’s debt rises”. my first tweet to the CourierSadly the Courier had blundered further into the swamp by confusing losses and debts. They assumed that the accumulated loss on the profit and loss account was debt. That is an appalling level of ignorance. I had some sympathy for their first mistake because of the layout of the accounts. There was no excuse this time. I tweeted again, but still didn’t get a response.my second tweet to the Courier

Losses can be covered in various ways. Debt is only one of them. Other possibilities are drawing on reserves (i.e. savings) and pumping more capital into the company by selling shares. What makes the Courier’s mistake worse is that the club’s press release explicitly drew attention to the new owners putting in more capital to cover the losses. The consortium had also given a pledge that they would not load debt onto the club. The Courier’s story was therefore an implicit attack on their integrity.

The club complained, but nothing happened till Monday, when they put out a strongly worded statement, which reflected their exasperation that the Courier’s website was still carrying a story that the paper must have known was false. Eventually the story was removed, after more than three days.

Jim Spence of the BBC also picked up on the same story and wrote that the club had run up a big debt, but he quickly corrected his error. Unfortunately the corrected version focuses misleadingly on the accumulated loss in the profit and loss account.
The result of the shambles is that it’s now widely believed that Dundee have either racked up unsustainable debt, or a multi-million pound loss in one year.

What is the debt anyway?

A few people asked me how much debt Dundee have if it’s not £3.1m. That’s an awkward question to answer because it depends what you mean by debt. We’re not financed by debt in the sense of loans from banks or directors or whoever. That’s what’s usually meant by debt.

However, we do have creditors as does every company. These provide funding to some extent because they’re letting the club hang on to money for longer. The money we owe is obviously a debt. The closing position in the 2013/14 accounts for creditors was £887k. Current assets (ie cash plus debts that are owed to us) were £673k. So the net current liabilities were £214k.

There’s no point quoting the £887k as debt without looking further. Even the impeccably prudent St Johnstone had creditors of £695k in their latest accounts, but that’s meaningless without considering the other side of the equation. In Saints case that is dwarfed by a stonking £1.256m cash and £572k owed to them. So Saints have net current assets of £1.167m, which is admirably sensible.

Dundee’s net current liabilities of £214k isn’t a good position, but it seems that it’s being managed. The club said in their initial statement that they are working hard to reduce these net liabilities. Also, the current owners have put in more investment than was lost, so the balance sheet has been strengthened (or isn’t as weak). I’d prefer it to be much stronger. I’d certainly want us to have positive net current assets and to be breaking even, sooner rather than later, but the situation is far better than the Courier and BBC reported.

I am slightly hesitant in trying to explain the net current liabilities, because what I’ve just written is an over-simplification. Sure, it’s better to have positive net current assets than a negative figure, but it’s theoretically possible to go bust with a positive figure for net current assets while also making a profit. Cash flow is king. Profit is just paper. Look at the paper profit in the 2010/11 accounts (see above) at a time when we were nearly liquidated because the cash wasn’t coming in to pay debts when they fell due.

Of far greater importance than a simple total of the net current liabilities is what they’re made up of and when the money is due. Money owed to HMRC for VAT/PAYE is very different from advance season ticket sales or bonds bought by supporters, but they’re all lumped in together under creditors. If you buy your season ticket before the end of May then you’re a creditor in the annual accounts for the year ending 31st May because your money can be treated as income only in the following season. The club owes you entry to 19 games, so that’s a debt of sorts. That’s totally different from owing HMRC money.

Seriously, how many people want to wade through a full analysis of all that? In Dundee’s case the “accruals and deferred income” is £468k, more than half of the creditors figure. That’s up from £130k the previous year, which is intriguing but not worrying. Presumably that money will mostly be treated as revenue in 2014/15, but we’ve already got the cash.

So strictly speaking it’s inaccurate that there’s no debt, but most football supporters think of debt as being money owed to the bank or formal loans made to the club. It’s perfectly reasonable that the board said the club is debt free because that’s consistent with most people’s understanding of the term, and it’s certainly consistent with the promises they made in 2013.

What do the accounts tell us?

The accounts tell us nothing about how money was spent in running up £3.2m of expenses. It’s surprising that the figure is up from £2.6m the previous season when we were in the top division. Clearly an important factor was paying up the contracts of employees who left. The board have said that the club was committed to most of the costs by contracts that were in place before the new owners were on the scene. That’s worrying. It casts serious doubt on the realism of the budget for 2013/14 if capital injection was required to cover a shortfall. It’s also an implied criticism of the financial management of the club before they arrived.

We’ll see where we are when the new regime has had a full year doing it their way with their budgets. As so often in the past the supporters are basically keeping their fingers crossed. We have to trust that the new owners will get a grip on the management of the finances, because we can’t expect them to keep covering losses by purchasing shares. That isn’t a sustainable strategy, and the board do seem to appreciate that. It is their money after all.

Dundee FC’s board gave their interpretation of the accounts and that was consistent with the pledge the new owners gave in the summer of 2013; they would not load any debt onto the club. When the Courier wrote that they’d run up debts of £3.2m it wasn’t only factually incorrect, it was also an attack on the integrity of the board. It’s hardly surprising that the club was furious. The Courier were as good as accusing the board of lying in 2013 and lying again now.

Accountancy isn’t arithmetic

Preparing company accounts isn’t a simple arithmetical exercise. It’s not a matter of adding up cans of beans and saying “there are exactly 943”. There are all sorts of assumptions, judgements and nuances. It’s a bit more like mapping. A map isn’t the same as the territory it describes; it conveys information about the territory. Drawing up a map requires an understanding of conventions, assumptions, compromises, and above all a clear idea of the story you’re wanting to tell and the audience you are talking to. A map for a motorist is different from one that a hill walker needs. It’s the same with accounts. It all depends what narrative you’re trying to sell and who your target is. Unfortunately conventional financial accounts are totally useless to the average football supporter.

You can place all sorts of spin on company accounts with varying degrees of justification. The spin that the Courier used was well beyond the limits of reasonable justification. They were trying to sell a story, and it wasn’t intended to be one that showed the Dundee FC board in a good light. The Courier were either utterly incompetent in the way they did it, or dishonest. The episode leaves them looking stupid at best. Their failure to correct a false story for more than three days casts doubt on more than their competence. Let’s hope Dundee FC’s board are more competent. That’s setting the bar rather low though!

Writing the dream

I started Dundee FC’s Championship winning 2013/14 season perched anxiously and gloomily at the back of Queen of the South’s main stand. I finished it watching in horror from the Dens Park press box, convinced till the 94th minute that the Dee were fated to be the fall guys in a last day turnaround which would feature in pub quizzes many years after I’d handed in my press pass. In between I watched and reported on every minute of the promotion campaign.

Sports journalists traditionally occupy a lowly rank in the hacks’ hierarchy, dismissed as fans with typewriters. As the match reporter for Dundee FC that places me amongst the lowest of the low. But so what? I really am just a fan with a laptop; MacBooks by preference. When they take a tumble in a rickety press box they bounce nonchalantly off concrete. Cheapo plastic laptops expire messily.

I write the official report for the club’s website and match programme. For a supporter the deal is a dream. “So there’s no money, but I get free entry to all the games, and free travel to away matches, with the odd free pie? Wow! Where do I sign up?”

The Dee have a recent tradition of heavy supporter involvement. The supporters’ trust owns a quarter of the club. Enthusiastic, talented and cheap volunteers have many important roles.

During the 2009 close season I was contacted by the club’s website editor, another volunteer, who had been impressed by my match reports for Dundee Mad, an unofficial site. Would I do the same for the club? I was enough of a supporter to regard this unpaid role as a massive honour, and I still do.

In the last five years I’ve covered one and a half promotions, one relegation, a horrible slump into administration, the longest undefeated run in the club’s history. Oh, and the Alba Challenge Cup. The Mickey Mouse Cup is its kindest nickname, but winning it did make a decent day out.

The flawed promotion was in 2012. Dundee were promoted, sort of, a couple of weeks before the start of the Scottish Premier League season. We had limped home in second place, several lengths behind First Division champions Ross County. After Rangers’ spectacular implosion we were an embarrassing afterthought, just there to make up the numbers. Rather like the sister’s disreputable boyfriend who has to be invited to the wedding, we eventually got a distinctly cool, last minute invitation. We were quite clearly the unwanted “…and partner”.

We weren’t remotely ready, and we got relegated. Only a spirited late surge lifted us from humiliating failure to mere embarrassment. The experience left the support with a massive itch needing to be scratched. We wanted back to the SPL and we wanted to be promoted properly, with the usual trappings. You know, winning games, playing well, an end of season party. And the trophy, above all the trophy.

The season started with a tough away game at Queen of the South, rampant champions of the Second Division. They would unfurl the champions’ flag before kick-off, they would be full of confidence, and they would hammer us. The tiny press box was full, and I had to sit amongst the home fans. Dundee took an early lead, but poor defending and inspired attacking by Queens saw the Dee collapse to a 4-1 deficit. Queens obligingly shipped two soft late goals to give the result a flattering gloss that fooled no-one.

It was my job to tell it like it was for the supporters who couldn’t make it. My report assured them that in spite of the 4-3 scoreline “there can be no hiding from the fact that this was, well, a hiding”.

Being the official match reporter is a tricky position. I’m representing the club, but the supporters expect honesty, and brutal honesty when necessary. I travel to many of the games on a supporters’ bus, and that helps me keep it real. Any bland, PR spin on abysmal performances won’t be tolerated.

Our second defeat was an even worse performance than the debacle at Queens. In September we got off lightly with a 3-1 spanking at Falkirk. I was travelling on my supporters club’s bus, and as I wrote the report on the way home I received constant advice, much of it defamatory, most of it obscene, none of it usable. This selection of words I did use gives an indication of the performance and my mood; dreadful, farcical, one paced, sloppy, error prone.

Next day I checked out a fans’ message board. My heart sank when I saw the discussion about my report. Everyone approved, but the consensus was clear; “he’s getting sacked in the morning”.

To the credit of the Dundee board and management there were no consequences. The word was passed on that my report had been “discussed”. My style should perhaps be slightly less personal, but there was no problem with the content. None of my reports have ever been amended after I’ve posted them. It still amazes me that the club trusts an ordinary supporter with administrator rights on the club website. That knowledge only strengthens the bond with my club.

So I kept my job. Straight after each match I’d bash out my thousand words. I’m a supporter, first and last; only a supporter, not a journalist. After a win I’m as high as any other fan. After a defeat I’m feeling as frustrated, but at least I have the chance to write it out of my system.

Dundee did recover from that bad start and the season brought far more highs than lows. By the middle of October we were in contention at the top of the table, chasing Hamilton, the early leaders. However, we were never truly convincing. Our longest unbeaten run all season was five games. The Dee settled into a regular pattern. We would predictably lose once a month, but win most of our other games. That allowed us to rack up plenty of points, but the supporters were on edge. We always knew the next disappointment was just around the corner.

Come the last day Dundee were two points ahead of Hamilton. Our goal difference was eight better; a point would surely be enough to clinch the single, automatic promotion spot. We were at home to mid-table Dumbarton, and Hamilton entertained a relegated Morton team who had belatedly found form and had beaten us a fortnight earlier.

The first half went to plan as we opened up a 2-0 lead. I was sitting in the press box next to Kenny who was typing the online text commentary for the club website. The news from Hamilton was worrying. Accies were piling in the goals and it was 5-1 at half time. But surely a draw would still see us up. Surely?

Midway through the second half Dumbarton pulled a goal back from a penalty. Still the goals were flooding in at Hamilton as Accies thrashed a Morton side who had started their summer holidays early. Eventually the word arrived that Hamilton had reached the eight goal margin; they were an improbable 10-2 ahead. If Dumbarton equalised, both clubs would be level on points and goal difference; Hamilton had scored more goals, so would go up as champions.

Kenny and I looked at each other, and shared the same thought. “It’s inevitable. Dumbarton are going to score, and we’ll lose out to a freak result”. We felt sick. Either of us could have done a flawless impression of Private Frazer from Dads’ Army. “Doooomed, I tell ye. We’re dooomed”.

Depending on your perspective our visitors were admirably professional, or annoying, wannabe party poopers; they gave it their best shot at writing us into pub quiz folklore. In the last minute, Dumbarton striker Bryan Prunty aimed a wickedly accurate downward header inside the near post. With promotion on the line, keeper Kyle Letheren pulled off the save of the season, the save of his career, and stretched to tip the ball around the post.

The Dee were up! I only believed it when I saw the referee stop and raise his hands, a fraction of a second before the crowd drowned out the peep of his whistle and surged onto the pitch.

As we waited for the helicopter to arrive with our trophy I dashed off my report. A supporter with a laptop? Of course! “Yaaasss! We’re up!” was how I started. I’ve never got my thousand words in so quickly. In no time the report was published, and I was down at the side of the pitch celebrating.

Being a supporter is great. Being allowed to write the official reports for the club you love? That’s priceless! And I don’t even have to pay the club. Seriously; they let me do it for free!