Going part-time will hopefully prolong the career of Craig Barr, with the central defender hoping to play on for a further 4 or 5 seasons now that he has lowered his training schedule.
Barr, speaking on Wednesday, said:
“As you get on in your career, you want to play at as a high a level as possible. For me, dropping down to part-time will hopefully sustain that and allow me to prolong my career as long as I can. It is a good level to play your football at and it is a very tough league, as sides like Hibs will testify with, who struggled to go up for 2 or 3 seasons. Dundee United are still in the league, Rangers were here for a couple of seasons too. It is a league I have played the majority of my career in and I have thoroughly enjoyed it; every season is a new challenge and that is what you look for as a player.”
Barr has settled in well at Dumbarton, especially with a couple of familiar faces being in amongst the current Sons squad.
“I was disappointed with the way my time at Raith ended, but, on the flip side of that, I hope to start afresh at Dumbarton and get a full season behind me as it has been a few years since I have done that now. That is my aim, to show everyone how good a level I can play at and that these injuries haven’t affected me. The Gaffer has obviously been watching Raith over the past few months and eyed up a few players he would like to get on board! He will be looking to bring us all together and gelled quickly to help improve the squad that he has here already. Dumbarton as a club loses a lot of players each year and because of that, we will just need to try make small steps each year and gradually build our way up the league.”
“Less is more for me. Training 4 or 5 days on astroturf every week takes an affect on your body as I have shown over the past few seasons; I think if I train twice a week, I will feel fresher, more alert and sharper,” continues Barr. Now, the 30-year-old is looking to life outside of football.
“It is a stage in our career we all come to. For me, having got married; had a kid and moved into a new house over the past couple of years, I need to see what else is out there to get a profession and a career so I can plan ahead for my family. When you go out to play a match, you will get pre-match nerves but as soon as you cross the white line it becomes second nature to you; when you go into an office environment with two other men facing you, grilling you about your experiences and the skills you have, then it is certainly an experience but it is one I am glad I have had – it is great I’ve gotten the first interview out of the way!”
Analysing the BetFred Cup campaign for the Sons, Barr told us:
“When we first saw the group, I felt we had a chance – certainly no less than Ayr as we presumed Killie would be going for the top spot. It didn’t work out that way but I don’t think it was all negative: I thought we played well but a few things went against us in terms of game-play. We were creating chances, we had goals chopped off, we have played some nice football…it isn’t all negative and we need to try and take that into the league campaign and try and kick on. In pure simple terms, if teams are training 2 or 3 days more than you, they will be fitter. But, it sometimes comes down to quality rather than quantity: if, on the two days you are in at training, you are doing it with a passion and desire then that can translate on to the pitch and we hope that can spur us on in the Championship this season. At the same time, while it’d be great if Dumbarton were bringing through their own players and selling them on, it is great to have a mix of experienced heads with a group of young players too as they can bounce off us; we have good experience this term and it is just about getting us all together, making sure we get results on a Saturday and to know in certain circumstances within the game situation to judge what is right and wrong to do and I feel the experience we have will allow us to do that.”
Barr also has experience of playing in Sweden.
“In Sweden, it is more tactical – you have a go, it breaks down, we have a go, it breaks down…over here, it is more about pressing, have no time on the ball; over there it is about having time on the ball, being composed, knowing your passes – whether you are a defender, a goalkeeper, it doesn’t matter, so, I think what that showed me was you need to play with confidence and already you can see the manager and Ian Durrant have and are installing confidence within the group of boys we have at the club, to believe in their own ability.”
With 35 games to go in the league, Barr sums up the Sons’ aims.
“I feel this is a more competitive league now and it will be a tough ask for us but if we can stay confident and believe in ourselves as a group and individually, then we can achieve our main aim which has to be staying up in this league. I have been in this division long enough now to know home or away, there is no easy games in this league. On paper, there will be favourites but every team can win against each other on any given day; it is about how much you want it. You fancy yourself as a footballer, no matter who is in front of yourself. We have to be realistic, being part-time almost puts us a step behind already: we want safety in this league. Once, and hopefully that is the case, we have survived, we can then start looking up the league and trying to finish as high as we can – but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”
On a personal note, Barr sees his future in a part-time role.
“For me, I want to keep fit, play as many games as I can and help Dumbarton. I want to show our fans, and everyone else too, that I am still a good player and that I still have the required standard to play at this level. With the stage I am at, I am happy to retire at part-time level in four or fives years time. I want to play at high a level as I can in that time; hopefully that is with Dumbarton and in the Championship.”