u Darren Dods is the foundation on which Falkirk’s revival this season has been built upon.
The Bairns have earned plaudits for their fast-paced passing game and admiration for the average age of the club’s players - but the quietly assured performances of the former Dundee United and Inverness CT skipper have been equally deserving of comment.
Many in the Scottish game had written off the 36-year-old after he spent much of his final season at United consigned to the physio’s room after sustaining a knock to his knee in a match against Kilmarnock last October.
It turned out to be a chipped bone which had dislodged and required surgery - meaning a seven month lay-off.
But just over a year later and Dods is revitalised, captaining his new side to a series of impressive victories which have left them in a position few Bairns fans would have thought capable at the start of the season.
The Falkirk Herald met with the 6”1 stopper at Falkirk’s University of Stirling training ground the day he was presented with his Irn-Bru Player of the Month award for October, and found him in good spirits.
“The mood of the dressing room is great at the moment,” he said.
“We’ve been playing well recently and we want to keep that going.”
Dods is a likeable character and has no problems fitting in at a club where many of the players are half his age.
In the case of Craig Sibbald, Dods was on the books at Hibs as a professional player before the Bairns wing-man was even born.
But the age gap means nothing in football as long as you still perform, you merit your place in the team.
And Dods’ experience was one of the principal reasons that Steven Pressley was so eager to sign him in the first place.
The mutual respect between Dods and Pressley is plain to see.
“He knew that I could play, and that I could help out with the younger players,” said Dods.
“I’m happy to pass on my experience.”
Dods has partnered both Murray Wallace and the on-loan Rhys Bennett at the heart of the Falkirk defence this season. He won’t be drawn on who he prefers to play with - but hopes that both will benefit from his stewardship.
Leadership is a quality that Dods hopes to utilise further when his playing career does draw to a close.
“I’d like to become a manager eventually,” he admits to Heraldsport.
“I was just down in Largs doing the latest set of my coaching badges along with Davie Weir.
“Football is my life and I want to continue to be involved in it as long as possible.”
In the meantime the 36-year-old is more than happy to concentrate firmly on playing - and is determined to skipper Falkirk back to the SPL.
“It would be a great achievement for everyone at the club if we could do it.
“It’s not going to be easy. It’s a very competitive league.
“But I’ve been very impressed with the standard of the young players here and I do believe that we’re capable of doing it.”
And with the experience of Dods behind them, Falkirk’s Bairns do indeed have every chance.