While Dumbarton had a successful season on the pitch last year, it was tough to celebrate for Grant Gallagher.

The midfielder last played for the Sons in their 3-2 defeat against Raith back in September when he suffered an ankle injury.

It was one problem after another for the former Celtic youth player, and he had to have an operation in the end to help his ankle heal.

And the 26-year-old feared for not just his Dumbarton future, but his future in football after the spell out.

He said: “It was quite hard going into the dressing room every week, knowing you’re not going to be involved.

“It was one of the toughest seasons mentally I’ve ever had.

“Before the games when they’re in the dressing room getting ready you miss all that.

“You know that you’re not going to be contributing to the outcome of the game.

“All you can do is say “all the best” to people in the dressing room and when you watch the game it all goes away, you become a fan really, which takes you back to being a fan when you’re younger.

“Training is probably the worst, when you go in to speak to all the boys about the weekend and when they leave the dressing room it’s just you and the physio.

“It’s just yourself, it’s hard, you’re battling away.

“You think further forward than you probably should as well, you can’t deal with anything that is in the future really.

“What happens happens and you think if I don’t play here then who else is going to want to take you, if people haven’t seen you play for a year.

But manager Stevie Aitken has shown faith in Gallagher, offering him a deal for next season, after previously playing under him at Stranraer.

The players met with Aitken last Thursday to talk over their Sons futures, and it was a situation the former Celtic academy player was dreading.

He added: “I was quite worried going in to speak to him, I either thought it was going to be here’s a deal or the total opposite “I don’t want to say lucky but I know the manager very well, we understand each other and he’s seen me enough over the seasons to know that I was rewarded with another one.

“He knows that when I’m away from football I want to get fit and want to get better.”

But Gallagher’s football work off the field helped him keep focus.

The former Stranraer player works with disabled adults and children in his spare time away from college and football and helped set up the Bonnyton Flyers football group.

Former assistant Stevie Farrell’s son played with the Bonnyton Thistle, and from that Gallagher helped create the disability section.

It covers a wide range of people, with various different conditions ranging from muscular dystrophy to learning difficulties.

Gallagher said: “I do a lot of work in the community with the local council, and they do a lot of work with people with disabilities so I’ve had quite a lot of hands on help with that.

“It makes it a lot easier when I go to sport, it’s not enjoying it more but you don’t take it for granted as much.

“I take in a lot of stuff like the matchday programmes, and the Topp Match Attax cards I give them a lot of stuff like that.”

After a difficult year life is good on and off the pitch. After chasing full-time football for years, and being a former Celtic academy player, it’s now something he would turn down if the opportunity arose.

He said: “I remember trying to remain full-time, and going on trials with teams and it just wasn’t to be.

“I went to Stranraer just to try and stay in football, I signed with them on the last possible day you could. I played for free just to play football. I tried to get into full-time football when I was with them.

“But if I was to get the option to go full-time now I’d probably say no. I’ve done well at college and going to university, you’re basically getting the best of both worlds having the job and the football.

“If you’d asked me that question four or five years ago I would say I regret not going full-time.

“But now it’s just the way it’s happened and it’s worked out well for me."