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Sunday, 30 August 2009

2009-2010 Season Review - August

The 09-10 season was the most eagerly awaited season for a Dundee fan since the 03-04 season. Back then, of course, we had a European campaign to look forward to as well as realistic hopes of a trophy and high league placing. The events of November 2003 put paid to that, but that's another story.
The pre season saw the board eradicate all bank debt as well as attract Calum Melville to the club; and it was to be largely Calum's investment that would bring in some top First Division players as well as players with SPL and international experience.
The pre season friendlies brought mixed fortunes with defeats to FC Augsburg (0-2) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (0-2) in Austria followed up by draws with Aberdeen (1-1, Dens) and Arbroath (1-1, Gayfield). The first, and only victory came at Forfar (1-0). Royal Antwerp and their band of lively supporters were invited to Dens and the teams played out a 3-3 draw.

The first competitive game was the 1st round League Cup home tie against Stranraer. Dundee cruised to a 5-0 victory to give the fans a tasty morsal of what to expect in the forthcoming season. Goals from
Higgins (23), Harkins (29), Cameron (37), McMenamin (47), Griffiths (67) sealed Stranraer's fate. The performance impressed some Stranraer fans:

"Dundee were very impressive, particularly Harkins who was tremendous and ably assisted by McHale and Hart in midfield. The guys up front are going to enjoy the ammunition supplied from there this season. Young Kyle Benedictus looks like a real good find too." Blue Moon, P & B.

The opening league game was against Morton, who have proved themselves to be no slouches in the 1st division. After a poor first half showing, Dundee managed a vital 1-0 win after Higgins got on the end of a McHale cross. The away fans' perspective wasn't quite so gushing this time:

Dee looked an okay side but certainly nothing special. No doubt they'll improve once their new signings bed down. Overall Dee probably deserved to win by virtue of creating a few more chances, but over the piece there wasn't much between the sides." Steak & Barley, P & B

Next up was Raith and Dundee's first competitive away game. Dundee took a healthy support and Raith showed up in large numbers for their flag presentation. Despite Dundee taking the lead, the game ended 2-2.

Harkins is some player though. Great composure on the ball and always playing with his head up. Dundee should play through him as much as possible. Griffiths too, when he came on, was very good. The rest? Hmmn, not so sure. I still think they'll win the league although maybe I should wait 'till I witness Caley & the Pars before commenting further." Pantene proV, P&B.

Another trip to Fife ensued in the form of Alba Cup business with Cowdenbeath our opponents. A 3-0 victory saw Dundee progress to the quarter finals. Cowden fans weren't optomistic going into the fixture but were pleasantly surprised by the way their team went about things, despite the loss:

"I thought we played well for most of the match. The first goal was a bizarre affair and Dundee didn't take over until the final ten minutes, even then we still pushed forward." Centralparker, P&B.

Five and a half thousand turned out for the 2-2 draw versus ICT. Dundee were aided by the large home support and ICT were aided by our defence, who were abysmal. In an otherwise entertaining match, Dundee twice took the lead, only to concede equalisers, twice. The second half saw chances for both sides to nick it but the scoreline ended 2-2. On that game alone and in my opinion, Malone, Paton, MacKenzie, Lauchlan, Kerr, McHale and McMenamin didn't perform. Bullock, Hart and Higgins did well with Harkins stealing the show. Griffiths and Cameron did well for the time they were on also- and must start at Airdrie.

"At HT I thought Dundee were very fortunate to be level, and they looked a one man team. Mind you, Harkins is a helluva player to have at this level and looks a cert for player of the year. Cracking game, end to end stuff, but I was mighty relieved when the whistle went as Dundee fared better out of the flurry of substitutions. They should have started with Griffiths."
Yngwie, P & B.

Dundee took their shaky defence up to Station Park in the 2nd round of the League Cup soon after the ICT game. A couple of changes were made to the starting line-up and it paid of as Dundee cruised to a 3-0 lead at half time, but as is becoming a bad habit, that momentum did not last. In the end Dundee settled for, an admittedly comfortable, 4-2 win. Craig Forsyth won man-of-the-match.

"Was very impressed with Forsyth. Great to see a player looking to take players on everytime he gets the ball. Cant make my mind up if we were that bad the 1st half or whether Dundee were good, we improved 2nd half but a deserved win for Dundee" Cresto11, P&B.

Back to the league and a visit to Airdrie United. A ficture that hasn't been particularly kind to Dundee and this game was to be no different. McMenamin opened the scoring but Lauchlan's O.G. levelled things and that is how it remained. Another draw in the league and it's clear we need to bring in a couple of players before the transfer deadline.

"we were quite lucky to get the goal at the end of the half which helped us going into the second. thought our defence was great although griffiths did outpace our right back a few times. (i'm sure he was offside once or twice).

when baird came on he started a couple of attacks down the left and I thought we were going to win it near the end when (Lagana or Keegan?) curled it by the keepers left hand post.

overall a decent game i thought, and we certainly deserved at least a point although we could've sneeked the three. " Proud to be a Diamond, P&B.

So, Dundee go through the month of August unbeaten and win all of their cup matches easily, but it is apparent that we need to strengthen key areas if we are to win the league. Too many points have been lost due to only performing for only patches of games and having a very unbalanced squad. The honeymoon is over, but all is far from lost. Roll on September!

1st- Dundee 5-0 Stranraer, League Cup 1st Round, 2,345
Higgins, Harkins, Cameron, McMenamin, Griffiths

Bullock, Paton (Casement 49), Malone, McHale, Benedictus, Lauchlan, Hart, Cameron (Kerr 68), Higgins, McMenamin (Griffiths 55), Harkins.
Subs Not Used: Forsyth, Geddes.

8th- Dundee 1-0 Morton, League, 5,449 (league position- joint 2nd)

Bullock, Paton, Malone, McHale, MacKenzie, Lauchlan, Hart, Cameron (Kerr 75), McMenamin (Griffiths 68), Higgins, Harkins (Forsyth 87). Subs Not Used: A Trialist (D Soutar), Casement.

15th- Raith Rovers 2-2 Dundee, league 4,744 (league position- 1st)
Harkins, McMenamin

Bullock, Paton, Malone, McHale (Forsyth 84), MacKenzie, Lauchlan, Hart (Kerr 62), Cameron, McMenamin, Higgins (Griffiths 67), Harkins. Subs Not Used: Cowan, A Trialist (D Soutar).

18th- Cowdenbeath 0-3 Dundee, 457, Alba Challenge Cup 2nd Round,
Harkins, Griffiths, Antoine-Curier

Bullock, Cowan, Benedictus, Lauchlan, Forsyth, Casement, McHale (Harkins 66), Cameron, Kerr, Antoine-Curier, Griffiths (McMenamin 70). Subs Not Used: Geddes, Rennie, Timmons.

22nd- Dundee 2-2 Inverness Caledonian Thistle, 5,507, league (league position- 2nd)
Harkins (2)

Bullock, Paton, Malone, McHale, MacKenzie, Lauchlan, Hart (Cameron 78), Kerr, McMenamin, Higgins (Griffiths 67), Harkins.

Subs Not Used: A Trialist (D Soutar), Casement, Antoine-Curier.

25th- Forfar 2-4 Dundee, League Cup 2nd Round, 1,929
Griffiths, Antoine-Curier (2), Tod (O.G.)

Bullock, Casement (Kerr 80), Malone, Paton, Lauchlan, Benedictus, Cameron, Forsyth, Harkins, Antoine-Curier, Griffiths.

Subs Not Used: Geddes, MacKenzie, Higgins, McMenamin.

29th- Airdrie United 1-1 Dundee, 1,516, league (league position- 4th)

Bullock, Paton, Malone, Benedictus, Lauchlan, McHale, Cameron (Hart 68), Kerr, Harkins, McMenamin, Griffiths (Higgins 76) .

Subs Not Used: MacKenzie, Forsyth, Geddes.

August Goal Count:
(L-League; LC-League Cup; LCC-League Challenge Cup)
  1. Harkins 5 (3-L; 1-LC; 1-LCC)
  2. McMenamin 3 (2-L; 1-LC)
  3. Courier 3 (2-LC; 1-LCC)
  4. Griffiths 3 (2-LC; 1-LCC)
  5. Higgins 2 (1 L; 1 LC)
  6. Cameron 1 (1-LC)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Our Boys - 1877-1893

The early history of football in Dundee is a rich tapestry of football clubs crossing paths and merging; of disputes and offshoots and musical chairs with regards to ground habitation; and the history of Our Boys is no different. Formed in 1877, Our Boys are among the earliest known sides from the city, indeed, only St Clement's, formed in 1876, are known to be older.
While the game of football had been around a while, mainly played between universities and private schools, the association game was relatively new. The first "official" international was played between Scotland an England in 1872 and the first Scottish Cup took place in 1873-4. Now, Our Boys were by no means big players in the early development of the Scottish game- that honour belongs to the likes of Queens Park, Renton, Vale of Leven, Third Lanark, St Bernards et al- but they would, of course, later merge with East End to form Dundee FC.
Our Boys started out life in a rather fetching red/black ensemble, pictured, complete with jockey-style caps. The club played at West Craigie Park, which was located where Baxter Park Terrace and Park Avenue are situated now which was a matter of yards from where they are said to have been formed- Morgan Street.

Scottish Cup Baptism
In those days, income was generated by playing friendlies and participating in the local tournaments and Scottish Cup. Our Boys' Scottish Cup introduction wasn't a happy one as they went down 8-0 in Glasgow to South Western on 29th Sep 1877. South Western would, in turn, only get edged out at the quarter final stage by Third Lanark- so no great shame for the cup debutants. Our Boys' first cup game was imortalised by the national media simply as:

"Played at Govan, and resulted in a win for the South-Western by eight goals to nothing"

The next few years of the Scottish Cup would also see 1st round exits. While the defeat to South Western was no great disaster, the same cannot be said of the 3-0 defeat to Arbroath in the 1878-79 Scottish Cup- it was Arbroath's first ever game. Arbroath would again be Our Boys' conquerors the follwing season, winning 5-1 this time. Perthshire outfit, Rob Roy completed a quartet of 1st round scalps in 1880, winning 2-1 in Perthshire.
Our Boys were to find a little more success in the cup in 1881-82, getting the better of Arbroath 2-1 in the 1st round at West Craigie in what was the first Scottish Cup game at home for the club. In the second round Our Boys would triumph in an 8 goal thriller, winning 5-3 at home to Dundee Harp. Goals were not hard to come by during this run and an emphatic 4-1 away win against Strathmore set up a 4th round meeting away to Kilmarnock. This is where the run would end, however, as Our Boys went down 9-2.
Another reasonably successful cup run was to be had in 1882-83 when Our Boys defeated Dundee Hibernian 2-1 in the 1st round and Balgay 5-3 in the 2nd round before being slain 6-4 by Vale of Teith in Doune. It should be noted, that the 1st round opponents were not the Dundee Hibernian.
Our Boys' appalling form away from Dundee was evident in 1883-84. The first few rounds were not a problem, given the regionalised format of the early rounds of the cup. Our Boys beat Dundee side West End 3-2, before dispatching Strathmore of Arbroath 2-0 and Strathmore of Dundee 5-1 in a replay- the first game ended 2-2. However, the aforementioned dreadful form outside of the city came back to haunt them as they subsequently lost 11-0 to Pollokshields in Glasgow- this would prove to be their heaviest defeat.

Forfarshire Cup
Season 1883-84 saw the formation of the Forfarshire FA. This, of course, meant the start of the Forfarshire Cup- a tournament taken very seriously in the early years. It provided local sides with an alternative to the Scottish Cup- which was very much dominated by the Glasgow, Dumbarton, Edinburgh and Paisley heavyweights. The inaugral winners were Arbroath followed by an impressive 3 in-a-row from Dundee Harp- whose run of trophy wins co-incided with their impressive 35(and counting)-0 mauling of Aberdeen Rovers in the Scottish Cup. This period also saw Our Boys change colours to the familiar Dark Blue that we all know and love today.
Season 1884-85 saw Our Boys face familiar foes in the Scottish Cup in the form of Strathmore (Arbroath) (4-1); West End (8-1); Strathmore (Dundee) (5-1) before drawing 2-2 with Lanarkshire side West Benhar. Needless to say, Our Boys lost the replay heavily- 8-3 in fact.

Local Hostilities
By the mid 1880s Our Boys were making some real progress and attracting a lot of public interest within the city and there were keen rivalries forming with local sides, not least East End. Indeed, East End were one of the few city sides able to keep up with Our Boys given the heavy defeats inflicted by Our Boys on the city sides in the Scottish Cup. Despite this, the Forfarshire Cup still eluded them; whether this was a bone of contention within the club is not certain but what is certain is the fractuous relations between club officials and players alike. This eventually boiled over after a 3-1 Forfarshire Cup 2nd round defeat to Dundee Harp when a number of club members left the club and formed Wanderers. Perhaps worthy of an article in their own right, Wanderers achieved not insignificant success. Wanderers would initially play at Morgan Park where they would record their record crowd of 6,500 against Queen of the South Wanderers in the Scottish Cup 4th round. Earlier that same tournament Wanderers battered poor Aberdeen Rovers 10-0 in what was to be their record win. That Scottish Cup run eventually ended at the quarter final stage where Dumbarton giants Renton beat them 5-1. Wanderers won the Dundee Charity Cup twice in 1887 and 1888. A move to Clepington Park (now Tannadice) followed in 1891 as well as a name change to Johnstone Wanderers and soon after in 1894 a merger with Strathmore happened. The new club flirted with the name Dundonians but Dundee FC objected to the name and the new club settled for Dundee Wanderers. Dundee Wanderers themselves won the Forfarshire Cup 3 times (1898, 1902, 1904); the Northern League once (1900); the Dundee Charity Cup once (1896) and the Dewar Shield once (1904). Dundee Wanderers would also play one season of league football in 1894-95 in the old Division 2. All this because some players took the huff!

Back to Our Boys and the 1885-6 Scottish Cup campaign was poor by Our Boys' rising standards. A 1st round victory over Coupar Angus (8-2) -away from home no less- was followed up by a 4-1 reverse to Dundee Harp. Even worse was to come in 1886-87 when Forfar (formed only a year earlier) won 5-2 at West Craigie in the 1st round. It was to prove to be the first of only three Scottish Cup defeats at home for Our Boys.

Quarter Finalists
The 1887-88 season saw somewhat of a breakthrough for Our Boys when they reached the quarter final of the Scottish Cup. This was the same tournament in which Wanderers managed the same feat. The two Dundee sides were joined by another local rival- Arbroath. Unfortunately, they would avoid each other in the quarter final draw and with such names as Queens Park, Renton, Abercorn and eventual runners up Cambuslang (who beat Abercorn 10-1 in the semi-final replay) also in the draw, that was as far as the local interest went. The press noted:

"The following clubs will now have to contest the semi-final of the Scottish Cup- Renton, Queens Park, Cambuslang and Abercorn. With four excellent teams it would really be difficult to pass an opinion as to who will be the ultimate winners. The Cambuslang, as has been demonstrated by their recent performances, are at present in their very best form, and, if they could only keep it up-and there is no reason why they should not-they will prove a hard nut to crack"

Our Boys' run to this stage was courtesy of a 9-4 win at Aberdeen (one of the clubs who merged to form the present Aberdeen); a 5-3 win over Montrose; a 5-0 win in Perth against Fair City Athletic; a 4th round bye; a 4-2 victory over Albion Rovers before losing 6-0 away to Cambuslang. Our Boys, perhaps full of enthusiasm, started pressing immediately but a Cambuslang counter attack resulted in an early goal for the home team. Our Boys trailed 2-0 at half time, with Cambuslang added a further 4 after the break. Around 1,000 spectators turned out to see the game- Our Boys lined up: Goal- Douglas; Backs- Leighton and Adams; Half-backs- Gillin, Butters and Findlay; Forwards- Tosh, Chalmers, Craig, Hull and Robertson.

"...while Our Boys (Dundee) succumbed to Paisley Abercorn by the large majority of eleven goals to one..."
Another heavy defeat came in the 4th round of the cup in 1888-89, again away from home to Abercorn. This was not before home wins v bitter rivals East End (5-4), Lochee (4-2) and Harp (2-1). 1889-90 would see East End exact revenge (3-2) in a 3rd round Scottish Cup game at West Craigie. Prior to this high scoring victories over Strathmore (6-3) and Dundee Harp (6-5) set up the third round tie between the old foes.

Local Success - Forfarshire Cup at last!
By the 1890s it was apparent Our Boys were a progressive club with ambitions. The club translated this into local success in the form of the Forfarshire Cup in 1889-90 and 1890-91, the Dundee Charity Cup in 1890-91 and a decent run in the Scottish Cup. A 7-2 win at Forfar, a 2nd round bye and a 4-0 victory over East End set up a 4th round tie versus Celtic at West Craigie. Our Boys would lose 3-1 in what were dreadful rainy conditions, however, a record attendance of 6,000 would turn out to watch two excellent defensive displays. Our Boys would take the lead but Celtic would equalise and then go on to score two futher goals to go into the interval 3-1 up. Obviously no further scoring took place. Our Boys lined up: Gold; Shepherd and Brown; Craig, Robertson and Findleton (Captain); Coupar and Chalmers; Buttar; Grewar (goal scorer) and Malloch.
1891-92 saw further success in the form of the Northern League, shared with East End. The Scottish Cup brought no joy as a 1st round defeat (2-0) to a local rival was to be the last Scottish Cup game Our Boys would play.
Scottish clubs often lost players to wealthier English clubs and Our Boys were no different. In 1892 James Coupar and Fred Erentz left to join Newton Heath (later Manchester United). Erentz in particular was a hit down south playing 280 games for the Manchester side.

Birth of Dundee FC
The events at the end of season 1892-93 were significant, to put it mildly, for Our Boys. They did the unthinkable and merged with East End! This is especially incredible considering the scenes at an Our Boys-East End derby at West Craigie which ended 4-4. The game descended into chaos and blows were exchange between fans and officials- this was as late as Jan 1893. It was to be the end of a rich history of a top Dundee senior side, however, it was to be the dawn of something far greater and despite disappointment at not being given Carolina Port (Strathmore were given that honour); it was, in my mind, fitting that Dundee FC spent their first year at West Craigie- a doth of the cap to the provenance created by Our Boys.

As ever, Norrie Price's "Up Wi' The Bonnets" provided the background to the article and formed the foundations of the whole piece.
The newspaper quotes are all found in the excellent London Hearts website
Scottish Cup matches were found at RSSSF and Dundee's Footballing Victorians
Club and tournament information was found at the Historical Archive run by Brian McColl
Football strip illustrations copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.
Oh, and I used Wiki also...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Limited Internet Access

Posts will be sparse over the next week or so due to problems with my laptop and time constraints. I will still be posting tidbits so keep checking back!

We've Met Before - Forfar Athletic

Local rivals they may be, but there isn't exactly a rich history of matches between Forfar and Dundee. The first meetings were back in the old Division 2 in 1938-39. Despite being one of the worst ever finishing league positions in Dundee's history (a lowly 26th place overall) Dundee managed an impressive 10-2 win at Dens, but went down 2-1 in Forfar. Forfar were not present in Division 2 during Dundee's 1946-47 title winning year so the next meeting was in the Scottish Cup of 1963-64. 16,000 turned out to see yet another comfortable Dundee victory- this time 6-1 as the Dark Blues marched to a Hampden final.
Almost 30 years would pass before the next competitive fixtures, this time in 1990-91 and 1991-92 in the Scottish First Division. It would prove to be fruitful for the Dees with the following results recorded over the two seasons- 1-0, 4-1, 1-1 (90-91) & 3-1, 3-0, 4-0, 4-2 (91-92). Another 4-0 victory followed in the 2004-05 League Cup at Dens, with Steve Lovell netting a hat-trick.

That gives Dundee a healthy record of 10 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat when including last night's victory.

Although I concentrate on the major competitions for these features, these clubs have obviously met on Forfarshire Cup duties numerous times, and indeed, in a few finals. These finals are listed below:

1922-23 Dundee 2-0 Forfar
1930-31 Forfar 2-1 Dundee
1945-46 Dundee 6-1 Forfar
1959-60 Dundee 3-2 Forfar
1978-79 Forfar 3-1 Dundee
1983-84 Forfar 3-2 Dundee

Friday, 21 August 2009

We've Met Before - Inverness Caledonian Thistle

It's not a fixture steeped in history, but that's not surprising given that ICT only entered the SFL in the 1994-95 season. There were two vacancies for SFL spots that year and both Caledonian FC and Inverness Thistle decided to apply. The SFL intimated that both applications may be unsuccessful individually but that a single, joint application may be more desirable. Against a backdrop of much controversy, the clubs agreed, and Caledonian Thistle FC was born. Soon after, it was decided to put "Inverness" at the front of the team's name.

It wasn't to be long before the sides met- the 1994-95 League Cup 1st round to be exact. Dundee ran out 3-0 winners at Dens in front of 3,112. Dundee would themselves go out in the next round to Celtic, also at Dens.
The next game was also a cup game- this time the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden in front of 14,429. It wasn't the most assured performance by Dundee but a sklaffed shot by Giorgi Nemsadze ensured progress to the final and avoided a Pittodrie replay.
2004-5 saw the first and, until this season, only league meetings between the pair. It was pretty straight forward in terms of victories favouring the home team. ICT won the initial game 2-1 at home; lost the next one 3-1 at Dens and then won the next one 3-2 at home. The fourth and final league game at Dens was going Dundee's way up until the 88th minute when substitute Liam Fox equalised for ICT, putting a serious dent in Dundee's survival hopes in the process.
The fixture may not be old, but whenever these two have met, there has been plenty at stake; with Dundee and ICT strong contenders for the First Division crown this season, that doesn't look like changing anytime soon...

Dundee wins: 3
Draws: 1
ICT wins: 2

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Dundee v Celtic, League Cup Quarter Final Replay, 20th nov 1972

Back in the late 60's through to the early 80's, Dundee and Celtic enjoyed a series of cup clashes, usually in the later stages of the competitions. I say "enjoyed" but it can be said that Celtic enjoyed these clashes a lot more than Dundee, unfortunately. It really didn't help that Celtic were managed by Jock Stein for most of this period, however.
The 1972-73 season saw these two meet on no less than 7 occasions- twice in the league, twice in the Scottish Cup and three times in the League Cup. Celtic edged Dundee in this mini rivalry by 3 wins to 2 with one draw. This season would see Dundee play 16 cup ties (20 if you include the Texaco and Forfarshire Cups) such was our success in the knock out tournaments. Although, it should be mentioned that Dundee managed a respectable 5th place finish in the league that year also. It's clear, to me anyway, that the Dundee side of that era deserved more than just a solitary League Cup win.
The game featured is the quarter final replay played at Hampden on 20th November 1972 in front of 36,483. Celtic won the game 4-1 with Jocky Scott netting Dundee's goal. An emphatic victory that contradicts the closeness of the 1st and 2nd leg matches of the quarter final: 1st leg- Dundee 1-0 Celtic (22,000); 2nd leg- Celtic 3-2 Dundee (After 90 mins and ET- 39,000). Unfortunately an away goals rule system didn't operate...

The Programme:
"Here Is Real Value for Money"- the title of the first feature exclaims.
"Value for money will be given tonight when Dundee, one of the most sophisticated and skilful sides in British football, meet the team that is something else in the Scottish game, Celtic"

The article goes on to quote Jock Stein's assessment of the last league encounter between the two sides:

"When your team plays as well as we played you can have little complaint. We played really well and lost a terrific game of football" [Dundee won 2-0]

The article ends up by highlighting just how difficult it will be for Dundee as Celtic have players such as Dalgleish, Hay, Macari, Johnstone et al to call upon, and, they rarely lose replays.

The Teams who are Chasing a Semi-Final Place Against Aberdeen
The middle page spread indicates the likely line ups:
Dundee's was predicted to be- Thomson Allan, Bobby Wilson, Doug Houston, Bobby Robinson, George Stewart, Bobby Ford, Jimmy Wilson, John Duncan, Gordon Wallace, Jocky Scott, Ian Scott. Sub: John Gray.
That was almost spot on apart from Alec Pringle playing in place of Bobby Ford.
A Close Look at the Players Who Make Scoring a Business
The respective marksmen of the two teams are given pen pics and we learn that John Duncan has already scored 11 in the League Cup competition alone (he would eventually net 40 goals that season). Jocky's pen pic reads:

"JOCKY SCOTT- Inside-left. 5ft, 9ins. 11st. 4lbs. Snapped up by Dundee eight years ago when Chelsea, unwisely, decided he didn't have what it takes. Though a moody type of player, there is none better when he is in the mood. Scored a spectacular "saver" against Celtic to force this replay."

League Cup Statistics and Scorers to Date
The inside back page charts the respective teams' progress in the competition. Both teams were free scoring up until this point- Dundee scoring 26 and Celtic 28. Dundee crushed East Stirling 8-2 in the sectional opener with Duncan netting 5. Dundee also turned around a 3-0 1st leg deficit against Dumbarton in the first knock-out round, winning the Dens 2nd leg 4-0.

The last page of the programme includes the obligatory piece of propaganda re the success of the tournament - nearly every programme of this era includes this article- but re-written in a different way. That said, the League Cup used to attract some staggering crowds. Click the image below to enlarge. look out for the patronising "little fellows" comments and the typo that suggests there will be an estimated 905,000 attending the 72-3 League Cup Final.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Dundee and the Challenge Cup

The Scottish League Challenge Cup; it means only one thing to Dundee fans- another season of First Division football. For many fans of various clubs it's a diddy cup, distracting from the serious business of mounting a serious title challenge. That is, until their team reaches the final, or even the semi-final. It's also been given a somewhat elevated status by Dundee fans this season and another excuse to see our team of "galacticos" in action. Every game is an event now. Such is the confidence in our team that a lot of Dees would like to see us win the trophy as part of a potential double with the First Division title. It's evidence of the renewed interest and enthusiasm amongst the Dark Blue fans.

It all started in 1990-91 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Scottish Football League and it was known as the B & Q Centenary Cup. Dundee's games that year drew healthy crowds, the first game excepted. Tricky away wins at Kille and Raith as well as an 8 goal thriller at Alloa set up a final with Ayr United at Fir Park in front of 11,506. Billy Dodds's hat-trick secured the trophy for Dundee.

2nd Round- Alloa 3-5 Dundee, 915
Quarter Final- Raith Rovers 0-1 Dundee (aet), 4,061
Semi-final- Kilmarnock 0-2 Dundee, 7,933
Final- Ayr 2-3 Dundee (aet), Fir Park, 11,506

The 1991-92 season introduced the tournament, now just called the B & Q Cup, to Dens for the first time and it was to be a short lived affair with Ayr exacting revenge for the previous season's final defeat.

1st Round- Dundee 0-2 Ayr, 2,058

There was a two year break from the competition while Dundee competed in the Premier Division but the 1994-95 competition saw a return to the final; the scoreline mirroring the score in 90-91 with Dundee losing to Challenge Cup specialists- Airdrieonians.

1st Round- Dundee 5-0 Arbroath, 2,205
2nd Round- Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1-1 Dundee (after 90mins & et) 4-3 pens, 2,000
Quarter Final- Dundee 2-1 Morton, 2,199
Semi-final- Dunfermline 1-2 Dundee, 7,154
Final- Airdrie 3-2 Dundee (aet) McDiarmid Park, 8,844

Lack of sponsors meant another name change in 95-96. Dundee would make their 3rd quarter final in 4 attempts in the League Challenge Cup. By the time the Stenhousemuir game came around it was apparent that we had a chance to go far in the League Cup and less importance was placed on the lower league tournament.

1st round- East Fife 2-4 Dundee, 1,157
2nd round- Dundee 3-0 Cowdenbeath, 1,101
Quarter Final- Dundee 1-3 Stenhousemuir, 1,112

Another quarter final followed in 96-97 but a heavy defeat by St. Johnstone put paid to that run. Dundee did manage to avenge their defeat in the previous season's tournament by Stenny however.

1st round- Dundee 3-1 Stenhousemuir, 1,304
2nd round- Airdrie 0-2 Dundee, 1,313
Quarter Final- Dundee 1-5 St. Johnstone, 2,346

1997-98 was a good season by virtue of us being promoted. Airdrie, however, dispatched us in the 1st round of the League Challenge Cup thanks to a 88th minute goal.

1st round- Airdrie 1-0 Dundee, 799

After a gap of 7 seasons playing in the SPL, Dundee returned in 2005-06, and another quarter final appearance ensued.

1st round- Dundee 2-0 East Stirlingshire, 2,554
2nd round- Dundee 1-1 Airdrie United (after 90 mins and et) Dees win on pens, 1,857
Quarter Final- Hamilton 2-0 Dundee, 609

06-7 saw Dundee dispatched by a decent Forfar performance coupled with a completely awful Dundee performance. Thankfully, it wasn't a long journey home that night.

1st round- Forfar 2-1 Dundee, 840

Again, Dundee fell at the first hurdle in 07-8, this time Ross County were our conquerors.

1st round- Dundee 1-2 Ross County, 1,471

For the third consecutive season, Dundee suffered a first round exit at the hands of Alloa, our first and until tomorrow, last opponents in the competition.

1st round- Alloa 2-1 Dundee, 793

So, to the Cowdenbeath game; hopefully it will be a good trip for the Dark Blue faithful, and for once, I'd really like to see us do well in this cup. 'Mon the Dees!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Dundee v Raith Rovers, 3rd January 1998

This colourful number is the match programme from the Dundee v Raith league game at Dens on the 3rd January 1998. The game was played out in front of 5,304 and ended 1-1. It was to be one of 3 draws the two sides would play out that season. Raith would take the lead immediately before half time and Anderson would equalise for the Dark Blues immediately after half time. The next meeting between the two would be the famous league clincher at Stark's Park.

To the programme and the cover seems to represent the present and celebrate the past history of the club with the artwork depicting the old and new styles of player and football attire.

Cowboy Talk
John McCormack says in his manager comments that:

"In terms of attractive football, we couldn't have wished for better first foots than Raith Rovers. It is top of the table clashes such as these in which everyone wants to be involved." Cowboy continues; "Somewhat like ourselves, Raith have struggled a bit at home but enjoyed good results away from home which will act as a warning to us."

Boardroom Perspective [by Guiseppe Gabiraldi on behalf of the board]
This article pulls no punches re the league set up of the time:

"Like the majority of teams and fans in Scotland, and I include in this a fair proportion of Premier Clubs, well in my opinion, we are not in favour of closed leagues."

The rationale behind that statement was that there are many well run non-league sides being denied access to the league and that bottom league clubs "without genuine ambition" are just happy to "tread water".

The proposal to set up a top league with teams from the larger population centres tends to come from "...people who seem to believe the mantle of structural change lies solely with them." The article goes on to say these clubs are run by "...fully paid up capitalists and here they are acting like the best or worst of the old Soviet Bloc Command economists. Who as history now tells us, failed miserably when they tried to plan their marketplace and dictate consumer behaviour."

The programme is extremely heavy on adverts and includes the usual player profiles (with some very youthful looking "well kent" faces including Lee Mair, Lee Wilkie, Jamie Langfield et al), current season's results, the Dens Park Bard & "Our Man in Aberdeen" feature by Kenny Ross.

And Finally
The "Dens Park Talk" section notes:

"Congratulations to 17 year old Steven Milne who made his first team debut at Paisley last week. The striker, who has been farmed out local junior outfir [sic] Downfield this season , becomes another find from a very successful youth policy in recent seasons including Ian Anderson, Jerry O'Driscoll, Neil McCann, Craig Tully, Gavin Rae, and John Elliott."

FC Barcelona v Manchester United, 1994-5, Champions League

Manchester United fans cover your eyes; this game was not a happy event for those of a red persuasion. Alex Ferguson would refer to this game as a watershed in his Manchester United team's European education. In fairness, Sir Eck was hampered by the 3 foreigner rule but opted to drop Schmeichel - I can still remember his face as he looked on helplessly as his team got hammered. It doesn't seem that long ago to me, but the group stages were filled with league champions only and Utd and Barca were joined by IFK Gothenburg and Galatasaray. After a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, Utd travelled to Barcelona to play in front of a 120,000 capacity crowd.
Stoichkov and Romario would score in the first half and then Stoichkov and Ferrer would score in the second to complete the 4-0 scoreline. Despite the impressive display, Barca would go out meekly to PSG in the quarter finals. Manchester United failed to qualify from the group stage.
So to the "programme"; in reality it's an A5 paper leaflet, 4 pages in length. However, the Spanish are not big on their football programmes.
The first page simply shows the current standings (click to enlarge) and that night's games. The middle page spread gives a lowdown on Manchester United, their manager, key players, squad and tactics. Looking at this page it just emphasises what Alex Ferguson has done for United- he has pretty much doubled their trophy tally in his 25 years at the club. It's clear that Barca Expected Man U to start with Schmeichel, Bruce, Parker, Pallister, Irwin, Kanchelskis, Ince, Keane, Butt, Scholes, Hughes.
The last page gives the remaining fixtures, and no, I've no idea what the section entitled "La Borsa" is all about; answers on a postcard please...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

We've Met Before - Morton FC

As you'd expect, teams as old as Morton and Dundee with a lot of top flight pedigree, will have crossed each other's path a fair few times. The Dundee-Morton fixture can be traced all the way back to the 1895-96 Scottish Cup when the two met for the first time. The venue was Cappielow and 3,000 fans congregated to witness Morton go into the break 2-1 ahead only to lose 3-2 by the time the final whistle blew.

Early, Hectic Encounters
The first league meeting between the two was a 5-1 hammering for Dundee at Cappielow in 1900-01. Dundee would (almost) return the favour in the Dens return, winning 5-2. The early league meetings would produce some high scoring matches between what would end up being regarded as some of the finest teams the respective clubs would ever produce. Dundee, as we all know, would win the Scottish Cup in 1909-10 and finish runners up in the league three times between 1903 and 1909. Morton would finish 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in seasons 1915-16, 1916-17 and 1918-19 respectively as well as win the Scottish Cup in 1921-22.
The goals inevitably flowed and no more so than in 1904-05 when Morton's 5-1 thrashing of Dundee was countered by a 6-1 demolition job at Dens to compliment the 6-0 win in the previous season's corresponding fixture. In 1908-09, Morton, who would finish 17th, would do untold damage to Dundee's title chances by taking 3 points out of 4 from Dundee, including a 2-1 win at Dens that allowed Celtic to overtake Dundee to finish champions by a single point.
Over the next few years Morton would have the better of Dundee, but Dundee would recover and, ironically, would post some decent results during Morton's glory years.

Cup Meetings
In seasons 1929-30 & 1931-32 Dundee would post a couple of Scottish Cup victories over Morton. In January 1930 at Dens, 15,000 fans would turn out to see the Dees score a goal in each half to beat Morton 2-0. The Dees would eventually reach the quarter finals where Hearts would break Dundee, erm, hearts by winning the replay at Tynecastle. Dundee would actually play all ties at Dens before the Edinburgh replay date, beating Morton, St. Johnstone and Airdrie along the way. The Hearts game at Dens (2-2) would attract 31,000.
In 31-32, another 1st round meeting between the pair, again at Dens, would attract 9,200 and 3 second half goals allowed Dundee to ease to a 4-1 victory. This cup competition would prove short lived however, as Dundee would go down 1-0 away to Dunfermline in the next round.

Few and Far Between
By the late forties onwards, the Dundee-Morton spectacle was a declining fixture of the Scottish game; the goals would still flow nevertheless. Heavy victories and numerous 5 goal thrillers would ensue. The 1972-73 season is a prime example- Dundee won 6-0 at Dens but lost 5-2 at Cappielow.

Premier Division Era
The first lower league encounters would take place in 1976-77 and 1977-78, and Dundee would win 3 and draw 3 of the 6 matches. In seasons 1981-82 and 1982-83 the two teams would meet a total of 12 times- 8 times in the league and 4 times in the League Cup. Home advantage was key, with only two of the ties going in the favour of the away team- Morton's 2-1 victory at Dens in 81-2 and Dundee's 2-1 league win at Cappielow in 82-3 being the exceptions to the rule. The League Cup games would be a disappointment for Dundee as they would fail to qualify from the sectional group on both occasions. That said, there was a little cheer when Dundee notched an impressive 5-2 win in Greenock in the League Cup on the way to a quarter final defeat by Rangers at Ibrox in 1986-87. The most impressive scoreline was yet to come, however, when Dundee won 7-1 in Greenock in 1987-88. There have been a few Dark Blue 6-0 victories, but neither side has managed to knock 7 in this fixture other than this one time.

Dawn of the SPL
One game that sticks out for me in recent times is the Scottish Cup replay in 1996-97 at Dens. The first game ended in a 2-2 draw at Cappielow with Dundee twice coming from behind thanks to Lee Power and Iain Anderson. The game itself was a dire battle of attrition and did nothing to raise the spirits, or importantly, the temperatures of the 4,346 who attended the game in freezing cold conditions. Until that is, when Dundee were awarded a penalty in or around the 80th minute. Sadly, we missed; but even worse- Morton were awarded a penalty of their own in the 90th minute. Cue mass exodus from the home fans, only for them to all come rushing back when the Morton player also missed from the spot. Game on again! However, Morton finally put the game to bed in the 106th minute and another cup run was over. Morton would repeat the feat in 1998-99 by winning 2-1 at Cappielow, Eddie Annand's goal wasn't enough. That brings us to our most recent encounters- Dundee would win all 5 of them in 2007-8, including a 2-0 League Cup win at Dens (Zemlik & Swankie). The 2008-09 season would be less successful, but Dundee, thanks also to Saturday's 1-0 win, still remain unbeaten at Dens to Morton, since 97-98. Long may it continue!

The Record:
Dundee Wins: League- 62; Cup- 3; League Cup- 2
Draws: League- 37; Cup- 1; League Cup- 1
Morton Wins: League- 45; Cup- 2; League Cup- 3

Friday, 7 August 2009

They Wore the Dark Blue for Club and Country - Alexander Keillor

As touched upon in the previous "They Wore" article, Alexander Keillor made his Scotland debut as a Dundee player (he played for the national team with Montrose in 1891 and 1892) with two of his Dundee team mates on 31st March 1894.
Alexander Lowson Keillor was born in Dundee in 1869 but was raised in Montrose. He joined his home town team in 1884 and stayed with them until his move into professionalism, and to Dundee FC in 1893.
Keillor made 139 league appearances and 20 Scottish Cup appearances for the Dark Blues between 1893 and 1902. During that time he would be capped 4 times. His first international as a Dundee player was against Ireland in a 2-1 win. The media of the time noted his enthusiasm at the start of the second half:

"Stanfield started for Ireland but Keillor intervened and pressure was for some time kept up in the Irish territory"

Keillor's next international was a 2-2 draw with Wales in 1895, again Barrett was in goal and this time another Dundee player, William Sawers, joined them in the line up. Keillor's next international in 1896 was his first international played at home and, indeed, held at a ground all too familiar to him- Carolina Port. It would also be played in front of the largest crowd he would experience in an international match- 11,700. Proof, if needed, of the enthusiasm for the game that the Dundee public displayed in the early days of association football. The Dundee public were not to be disappointed, as Scotland would run out 4-0 winners, with Keillor scoring one of the goals. If this wasn't enough, they would be treated to another one of their club side's players being capped that day- William Thompson. It seems Dundee hit the ground running in their early years and adapted pretty quickly to professional football. Indeed, very few clubs has seen a player capped in their first season of existence; Celtic are one of them, but not many others can lay claim to that fame. Certainly, Queens Park may be excused, having been formed in 1867- 5 years before Scotland played their first international. However, I digress.
Keillor's last game for Scotland came in March 1897; three months before Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee. It was played against, who else, Wales. The game ended in a 2-2 draw and there would be no goal for him this time. At the age of only 27 it seems a shame that he wasn't given the chance by the Scotland selectors again.
Once he left Dundee in 1902, he returned to Montrose FC and retired in 1906. Keillor died in 1960, just two years short of seeing his former team lift the league championship.

Keillor's international matches:
Wales 3-4 Scotland, 21st March 1891, The Racecourse Ground 4,000 (while with Montrose)
Ireland 2-3 Scotland, 19th March 1892, Solitude Ground 10,500, (while with Montrose)
Ireland 1-2 Scotland, 31st March 1894, Solitude Ground 6,000
Wales 2-2 Scotland, 23rd March 1895, The Racecourse Ground, 4,000
Scotland 4-0 Wales, 21st March 1896, Carolina Port, 11,700
Wales 2-2 Scotland, 20th March 1897, The Racecourse Ground, 7,000

Monday, 3 August 2009

Dundee v Airdrie, 26th April 1958

The 1957-58 season wasn't a happy one for Dundee, considering some of the players at our disposal. Failure to qualify from the group stages of the league cup was compounded by a third round Scottish Cup exit to Aberdeen at Dens as well as a lower-than-mid-table finish. Crowds for the league games were understandably low- only 5,000 would turn out to watch Celtic at Dens for example; which was a pity as Dundee won 5-3. The average attendance was still 10,900, however. The cup games drew the largest crowds with 28,000 turning out for the Aberdeen cup defeat. There were some heavy defeats- 0-5 & 0-6(Hearts), 1-5 (Third Lanark), 0-4 (QOTS) and 1-7 (Airdrie). The scant consolation, if indeed it was one, was the 1-0 victory at Tannadice in front of 7,500 in the Forfarshire Cup.
The programme itself is a basic edition with an un-named author giving an update on the Dens news in an article that threads its way through all 8 pages of the programme.

"Airdrie, fighting for their First Division existence, are our visitors at Dens to-day.....With so much at stake for our visitors we can be certain that to-day's game will be played in a tense atmosphere. Our recent results, particularly away from home, [1-1 at Hibs, 2-0 at Falkirk and 7-2 at Queens Park] have instilled confidence...Airdrie, in our opinion, are a better team than their present position suggests. Like ourselves, they have often been credited with playing attractive football, but have failed to get the goals which bring success."

Well, Airdrie managed to score 3 to Dundee's 1 in this particular game in front of 6,500, and ultimately escaped relegation that season. The author goes on to mention the reserves and the impending trip up north to play Fraserburgh on Friday evening and then to Buckie the next day. It turns out both games are Dewar Shield finals. The Dewar Shield, Norrie Price's "They Wore the Dark Blue" reliably informs, is for the winners of the Forfarshire, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire and Stirlingshire Cup winners. Dundee would win both ties- the Fraserburgh game was the previous season's final held over.

Curiously, British Rail advertise a train service to St. Andrews, costing 3s 11d. Ponsford's of 169 Overgate and 31/33 Ann Street advertised "Radiograms, £47 5s,for £37 10s cash. No Deposit Terms, 38 weeks at 25s"

Finally, spectators are told to eat at "the team's favourite restaurant" after the game- DM Browns in High Street. Given the result, and general lacklustre season, I'm not sure many fans would have been in the mood...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

We've Met Before- Stranraer FC

Fully 35 years had passed after Dundee's formation before these two sides first met. However, that's not surprising, as despite being formed back in 1870, Stranraer were not admitted to the Scottish League until 1949 and haven't played in the top flight. In the early days, Dundee would only meet Stranraer in competition due to chance cup encounters.
The first game was back in January 1928 in the 1st round of the Scottish Cup at Stair Park. Dundee won the game 4-2 and were rewarded with a 2nd round draw against Dundee United. It would be 40 years before the sides met again. This time it would be the quarter final of the League Cup, and in those days it was a two legged affair. The first leg at Stair Park attracted over 4,000, which is a respectable figure given Stranraer's record crowd of 6,500. Dundee would win the tie 4-0 and the Dens return 6-0 to set up a second consecutive League Cup semi-final.
Dundee would only need to wait 5 years before crossing swords with the The Clayholers again. Dundee would run up an emphatic 9-2 scoreline at Stair Park in the last 16 of the 72-73 Scottish Cup, one of the infamous tournaments that resulted in a semi-final defeat by Celtic. Another League Cup visit to Stair Park was drawn in 85-6, but this time Dundee were given a tougher time of it and edged it 3-2.
The 1994-95 campaign would see the first league meetings between the two. Dundee won all the 4 league meetings that term but the last meeting, was the famous 5-0 victory at Stair Park. Needing to win by 7 goals to be sure of a play-off place, the late KO meant the players knew what was required to grab that second spot. A late flurry ensued but to no avail. Another season in the 1st beckoned, although the blow was cushioned by the return of the derbies via Utd's relegation.
The next encounter was equally famous, for all the wrong reasons. To date, it is Stranraer's only win versus Dundee, and the 3-1 reverse in the 05-6 League Cup was to be the death knell for Jim Duffy's second term as manager. We would also meet on league duty, drawing 3 times and winning once, at Dens. We also met in the Scottish Cup that season, winning 2-0 at Dens.
That brings us to the 1st round of the League Cup played yesterday with Higgins, Harkins, Cameron, McMenamin and Griffiths all finding the net in a 5-0 win.
To date the record stands at:

Dundee wins: 12, Stranraer wins: 1, draws: 3.