On Tuesday, July 14, 2009 we reported that...

AN American has revealed that he hopes the people of the Vale can “reclaim their past” by re-discovering the area’s former footballing glories.

Matt McDowell has become obsessed with the history of the towns and villages in the area, as he is currently compiling an academic study on them.

The 27-year-old from Maywood, New Jersey, became engrossed in Scottish football through an old flatmate, before quickly becoming particularly interested in the Vale.

He believes that there is currently a “market saturation” of work relating to the Old Firm, and says more needs to be done to look at former footballing giants, like the Renton FC team that won the World Championship of 1888.

The Scottish history student and tutor at Glasgow University hopes more can be done to highlight Dumbarton and the Vale.

One historian, Christopher Harvie, has referred to the area as “the cradle of Scots soccer”.

Matt told said: “The mythology of this region’s footballing prowess is engrained in Scottish football. I started to become interested in the whole subtext of Scottish football — not just Celtic and Rangers — but of local clubs, whose supporters’ laboured and toiled, for them only to fail to deliver the annual trophies or glory that the Old Firm receives.”

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He added: “Typically, when somebody thinks of Renton and Alexandria in the Glasgow area, they’re known as the two trains stops after Dumbarton on the way to Balloch.

“Golf correspondents at the weekend, particularly those from England and the United States, would have been thinking of them in exactly these terms as they headed to Loch Lomond to cover the Scottish Open.

"But the study of these two villages explains not only a great deal about football, but also of the explosion of heavy industry and the coming of migrants to the region.”

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He added: Discussing the region’s football history is very much about reclaiming West Dunbartonshire’s industrial past.”