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Friday, 9 August 2013

120 Years On...Dundee Harp 3-3 Dundee FC, friendly

The 9th August 1893 saw the newly created Dundee FC take part in a warm up game against Dundee Harp. The Dark Blues were due to play their first ever league game on the 12th against Rangers. However, the performance left a lot to be desired as the local and national press reported:

"The opening made by the Dundee club is not very striking."

That succinct statement sums up the performance and the same article goes on to state that:

"It need not be pointed out that that [league] place was not gained on form; it was given on promises, and they will have to be made good."

The Dundee Courier also gave their critique:

"The Dundee will require to improve greatly if they intend to win their first League match with the Rangers on Saturday."

Sunday, 29 July 2012

On This Day...29th July

In 1978 Dundee defeat Arbroath 2-1 at Dens in the first round of the Forfarshire Cup. Shirra and Morris get the goals.

Jocky Scott is among the scorers in a 2-0 win away to Inverness Thistle in 1975 in a friendly game.

In 1993 Dundee draw 0-0 with Lancaster City and exactly one year later the Dees win 3-1 against the same opponents with Blake, Tosh and Britton scoring the goals.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

50 Years On

The events of 29th April 1962 at Muirton Park, Perth marked a zenith in the history of Dundee FC. Not many, if any, Dundee fans need to be reminded that Dundee FC became the champions of Scotland for the first, and only, time that day. What went before and what came after that momentous afternoon in Perth pales in significance. It has become the watermark that, perhaps unfairly, all future Dundee teams are measured against. Romantics have stated that the events of that day, and the achievements of the players involved, haunt the corridors of Dens; reminding players and officials what they may never replicate. To me that is a little over dramatic, but it can’t be denied that there is a burden of history placed upon the shoulders of those who run, and those who ply their trade for, the Dark Blues. Whether or not players are affected by, or even care about, this is another matter of course, but there is a weight of expectation from those in the stands who were lucky enough to witness the feats of the class of ’62, and even from those who were merely brought up on the stories.
 What is almost just as significant as the title win itself was the way in which the title was won. That team was able to play with so much style and creativity that, even 50 years on, they are still remembered so fondly by neutrals. Bob Crampsey is often cited by Dundee fans as justification of their own belief that the title winning side was one of the finest Scotland ever produced. What Bob Crampsey didn’t know about Scottish football was not worth knowing, and he is regularly quoted as saying that the 1962 title winning side was possibly the finest footballing side this country had produced; finer even than the Lisbon Lions- even if they were not as successful.
 Dundee is not a large club in the big scheme of things, and has only been relatively successful even in a Scottish context, but the club still has traditions that the fans demand be upheld. That is largely down to the fabulously gifted, and unfortunately short lived, squad of the early 60’s. A reasonable expectation of challenging for a cup; top flight football; the occasional home grown international and putting out a team that plays attractive football is what this club had become known for before its current lowly position within the Scottish game- a position now slightly loftier after our return to the SPL. The team of the early 60’s galvanised the club’s reputation in all of those fields, and in doing so won the biggest prize on offer. The dazzling European Cup run to the semi finals the following season; although arguably the highest level in which any Dundee player, whilst wearing the Dark Blue, has played at; would not have been possible without the league win.
 Fifty years on, and the starting eleven that so easily drips off the tongue of most Dundee fans, and the squad members who stood in when called upon, have long since become legends and rightly so. They have set a standard that no future Dundee team can possibly match, thereby leaving that burden of history weighing heavily upon Dens Park. However, that need not be a bad thing: if there was ever a standard to aspire to, then that of the class of ’62 is as good as any this country has to offer.

Friday, 11 November 2011

"Drab" Dundee Dazzle in Ibrox Fog

Great sides are remembered for seminal performances that served to underline their brilliance. In November 2010, Barcelona: currently the most revered team on the planet, blew Real Madrid away, five-nil, at Camp Nou; in November 1961 Dundee unleashed Gilzean on their very own title rivals. The result of the Rangers-Dundee league game has since passed into Dundee folklore and Rangers infamy. However, it is worth noting the game almost never went ahead due to the fog that had descended in Glasgow that day:

"Of all the hazards of weather that besets sport in winter fog is by far the most serious. Grounds staff can contain the effects of the menace of rain, snow, and frost, but they are helpless when fog blankets the playing pitches. One of several Scottish League matches due to be played today which are at the mercy of the fog is that between Rangers and Dundee at Ibrox Stadium...The game is the most important of the league season so far in that Rangers, the First Division champions and undefeated in this season's competition, will be opposed by the club most likely of all to take the league title away from them...Rangers can afford the loss of a Saturday attendance, such as today promises to be, more than Dundee, but if they miss the immediate opportunity to reduce Dundee's lead in the championship the title may slip away as the backlog of games builds up." - Glasgow Herald, 11th November 1961

As the above segment of the article indicates- this was a Rangers team very much on a roll: undefeated in the league and in the final of the League Cup. It was a grand era for the Govan side and they certainly made an impact on Europe reaching the final of the Cup Winner's Cup the season before, and the semi final of the European Cup the season before that. As well as dueling with Dundee in the League Cup sections and league championship, the Glasgow side would reach the quarter finals of the European Cup; underlining their own abilities to compete for multiple honours at home and abroad.

Despite the Govan side's dominance at this time Dundee had quite a favourable recent league record against the Light Blues at Ibrox; having left the ground with at least a point in each of the last four visits:

"Dundee have an impressive record at Ibrox in recent years and are playing with great confidence these days...There is no better half-back line in Scotland than that composed of Seith, Ure and Wishart and few teams possess such striking power in attack as those two tall forwards, Cousin and Gilzean, give Dundee...If the weather is kind the largest league attendance of the season, possibly 70,000, will see what should be a match to remember."

The fog, of course, did not stop the game from going ahead, but it did limit the attendance to only 35,000 as there was some confusion amongst the home and away fans about whether the game was going ahead or not. The following Monday's Herald explained:

"Rumour became fact in Glasgow on Saturday almost as quickly as the Dundee forwards riddled the Rangers defence later in the afternoon. Even before the gates at Ibrox had been opened many thousands of people who were on their way to the Rangers-Dundee match abandoned their journey as news that the game had been postponed because of fog passed through the city.
 At 2.15, three-quarters of an hour before the advertised kick-off, the prospect of play was not bright, for though the sun shone from a blue sky in the distance Ibrox was still shrouded in fog. But as the atmosphere became clearer the referee declared the match on, and the gates were opened just before 2.30. The kick-off was delayed 12 minutes in order to admit the crowd who had gathered outside the stadium and who were issued with tickets which they were asked to retain in case early abandonment was necessary.
 The attendance was 35,000- probably only half of the number who would have paid for admission had not false information permeated the city. So both Rangers and Dundee lost a great deal of money, and the financial reward for their succession of fine performances which Dundee deserve was at least halved.
 Dundee have two great consolations, however. There can now be unqualified praise for their achievements- they are firmly established at the top of the league, five points ahead of their closest rivals and seven ahead of Rangers, the champions, who have rarely suffered so decisive a defeat as Dundee administered to them on Saturday- and they are clear favourites to win the championship and qualify next season for the rich rewards that the European Cup has to offer.
 The feat of Gilzean, Dundee's inside left, who scored four of their goals against Rangers, must surely rouse the Scottish International selectors to reconsider their plans for the World Cup play-off match with Czechoslovakia. Not only did Gilzean, who has been an under-23 cap, score four times but he was within inches of scoring four more, and in every aspect of forward play was the superior of Brand, Rangers' inside left. Furthermore the collapse of Rangers, which was not surprising to those who have watched the deterioration in their play in recent weeks, seems to suggest that some of their players are no longer in the form or mood which makes Internationalists."

On the match itself, the paper pays quite a bizarre, back-handed compliment to Dundee's achievement:

Dundee Drab Only in Dress

"Of all the teams in the Scottish League Dundee probably are the most sombrely dressed. As they trooped on to Ibrox Stadium on Saturday in their dark blue shirts, white pants, and dark blue stockings with white tops, one thought of competence and solidity and even of conservatism of football method; if the uniform meant anything Rangers, in vertical light blue and white stripes, lighter blue, shimmering shorts, and vivid scarlet hose, looked the gay cavaliers of the game, the modern stylists of football.
 But dress does not make the footballer any more than it makes the man. Those who wear the drab Dundee shirts these days are worthy of being considered in the class of great Scottish clubs of the past; there is abundance of skill and the essential leavening of dour uncompromising will to win-just such a combination as raised Rangers and Celtic in the past to the peaks of success"

Eventually, from the fashion critique emerged a recognition from the Herald that this Dundee team was about to achieve great things. The match report is a joy to read but what is even better is to view the foggy highlights and witness the artistry for yourself...

"...Rangers really have no answer to this at all..."

Monday, 3 October 2011

One step backwards, two steps forwards

Pittodrie was the venue and Aberdeen, Dundee's great rivals of the era, the opposition of Dundee's first league defeat of the 1961-62 campaign. In many ways it was a disappointing performance not helped by an early first half penalty. In the programme notes for the Hearts game a week later, it was acknowledged that the poor performance of the attackers up front was chiefly to blame for the defeat. In many ways the result was a turning point for the Dark Blues and the changes made for the following week's 2-0 victory over Hearts set in motion the famous line up that would embark upon a formidable set of performances that would eventually bring the championship trophy back to Dens Park.
 It was noted in the Hearts programme that in the corresponding league fixture the previous season,  Gordon Smith played for the opposition. Smith was famously brought in by Shankly with a few other players to add experience to the squad to compliment the talented youths coming through the ranks at Dens. 
 Dundee then travelled to Third Lanark on the 30th September and came away with another victory to banish the Aberdeen performance to distant memory, and begin to make their championship credentials, and intent, known to the rest of the league.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Barcelona v AC Milan, Champions League Final, 1994

In May 1994, UEFA got a dream final for their flagship competition when Cruyff's "Dream Team" met Capello's AC Milan: Europe's most formidible club side of that and, just perhaps, any era. Barcelona were hoping to extend their domestic dominance- Barca won their fourth consecutive Liga title that year- into Europe. The club had only won the tournament two years before, and saw this final as a chance to take over Milan's crown as Europe's pre-eminent club side. 

Wembley Kings Mk 1- 1992 European Cup Winners
Milan, on the other hand, had lost the previous year's final to Marseille and hadn't won Europe's premier cup tournament since 1990; despite continued dominance in Italy. The sides boasted players such as Maldini, Guardiola, Romario, Stoichkov, Rossi, Boban, Desailly et al and the final was certainly memorable. However, what is remembered is how Milan squashed Cruyff's Dream Team and snuffed out any hint of the Catalans usurping Milan as European kings.
 Milan took full advantage of poor Barca defending and some luck for the second goal to trounce the Blaugrana 4-0. Milan's empire finally crumbled the following year by virtue of a 1-0 defeat to Ajax in the final, and the rise of Juventus as Italy's domestic power. Barca, on the other hand, never recovered and limped out in the quarter final of the following season's campaign to PSG. They did; however, manage to thrash Manchester United 4-0 en route to that stage; thus showing Alex Ferguson how far behind his team was behind Europe's elite. How history likes to repeat, it seems. At home, two trophyless seasons was enough to see even Cruyff get the sack. 
1994 Champions League FInal Venue
 Milan would bounce back sooner than Barca with a 2003 Champions League win which signalled the start of another, much shorter, period of European success; with three Champions League final appearances in five editions. Barcelona had to endure scraps in the form of a Ronaldo-inspired Cup Winners Cup victory in 1997 and a couple of Champions League semi final appearances. However, all this mattered not as they witnessed Real Madrid add three Champions League crowns to the six European Cups sitting in the Bernabeu Museum. Even Valencia managed two runners-up spots, beating Barca in the semis of the 1999-2000 tournament. Barcelona would have to wait until 2006 for their shot at another final, and they haven't looked back since...

Friday, 9 September 2011

Dundee 4-1 Dundee United, Sep 9th 1961

Cover of Derby Match Programme, 09-09-1961

In its preview of the second round of fixtures for the 1961-62 season; The Glasgow Herald, perhaps unsurprisingly, singled out an all Glasgow clash between Partick and Rangers as the game of the day; despite conceding that Partick don't boast a particularly good record against the Ibrox club. The paper does think that the match at Dens will be a "stirring contest"; however, with a "close result" expected. The result was anything but, with the Dark Blues winning 4-1. The first team continued the good work of the reserves who won the "mini derby" 3-2 at Tannadice with McGeachie among the scorers. The match report of the first team's game can be read on Dundee-Mad.

Centre fold of Derby Programme