Unlike Our Boys, East End did not make an immediate impact on the local scene and despite being formed in 1877-the same year as Our Boys- they did not enter the Scottish Cup until 1882. There may have been good reason for this as East End were very nomadic in that they chopped and changed grounds quite often and flirted with extremes in shirt colours. This may point to unsettled, uncertain origins which may explain why it took a while for East End to establish themselves.
In the beginning East End opted for narrow light blue and white hooped shirts, white shorts and hooped socks and played at Havecroft Park. As mentioned, the early years for East End were fairly quiet. While their future, great rivals, Our Boys, would be competing in the Scottish Cup and playing in high profile friendlies, East End remained rather low key.
By the time the Forfarshire Cup started in 1883 East End moved to Clepington Park, now Tannadice of course, and East End began to rise to prominence. East End had also taken part in the 1882-83 Scottish Cup, losing 4-3 to Arbroath in the 1st round. In the 1883-84 Forfarshire Cup, East End reached the 3rd round, going down 3-0 to Dundee Strathmore at Strathmore's Rollo's Pier ground. (If anyone can supply the location of any grounds mentioned, please do so in the comments). Strathmore would also get the better of East End in the Scottish Cup that very same season, this time winning 1-0 in the 1st round. In the October of 1883 East End would go down 8-1 to Our Boys in a game which "The Boys asserted their superiority throughout" according to the national press. East End were still a poor relation of their West Craigie rivals. It was a tentative introduction to competitive football, but the club's stock would only go up from here.
On the Move, Again
1884 saw East End move to Madeira Park, and the Scottish Cup campaign that season was (slightly) more successful. Coupar Angus were beaten 8-1 at the new ground and a 1-1 draw away to Dundee Strathmore was followed up by a 5-2 home defeat in the replay. 1885-86 saw East End paired with Dundee Strathmore once again; the first tie ended 3-3 but East End won the replay 4-1. On that very same day Arbroath beat Bon Accord (in truth, Orion Cricket Club) 36-0. Incredibly, Dundee Harp won 35-0 against Aberdeen Rovers, although, the referee had counted 37 goals but Harp's secretary said he had only counted 35, and thus, unknown to the Dundee official at that moment, he had handed the world record to Harp's Forfarshire County rivals. It may be a mute point though, as the Arbroath-Bon Accord ref later stated the score may well have been as much as 43-0 to the Smokies had he not disallowed what may have been perfectly fine goals. The goals would continue to flow in the county when, after a 2-2 draw, East End dispatched Broughty 8-3 in the 2nd round replay. Free Scoring Arbroath halted East End's cup run, however, winning 7-1 in the 3rd round. East End were now beginning to build some momentum and real progress was being made; this, however, did not stop East End dramatically change colours (left), and stadium, in 1886- this time to Pitkerro Park.
The 1886-87 Scottish Cup kicked off against Aberdeen, or rather it didn't as East End were awarded a walk over. The 2nd round saw a thrilling 5-4 win over Broughty to set up a 3rd round home tie v Dunblane:
"The strangers [away team], who had not their full team, played downhill in their first half, but at the close of the period the East End had 2 goals to one. The second forty-five was very stubbornly contested, but the visitors, who played a very hard and determined game put on two points to their opponents' one, and thus effected a draw-3 goals each."
East End decided to withdraw after this game however, and so the cup run came to an end. In January 1887 a derby between "The East" and Our Boys at West Craigie Park was particularly well covered in the national press:
"The East End kicked off down hill, and quickly invaded, but the boys retaliated. A long spell of runs and counter runs, rather in the favour of the East End, followed, and half an hour's play ended in one of the East End forwards sending the ball through. Nothing further was done in the first half. In the second period the Boys had the best of the play, and while they managed to keep their opponents in check they scored three. The match ended-Our Boys, three goals; East End, one."
The 1887-88 season a walloping 13-1 victory over Arbroath Strathmore saw East End into the 2nd round where Kirriemuir's Lindertis won 3-2. The developing rivalry with Our Boys was starting to get interesting and they were becoming closer, harder fought matches- the January 1888 derby was drawn 1-1. That same day, Our Boys Rangers (Our Boys' reserves) contested the 2nd XI Forfarshire Cup.
1888-89 charted the beginning of East End's rise towards the summit of the county's club teams. It also was the beginning of numerous important clashes with Our Boys in the four most important trophies around for Forfarshire sides- the Dundee Charity Cup, Forfarshire Cup, Scottish Cup and the soon-to-be inaugurated Northern League. Our Boys drew first blood in the Scottish Cup 1st round however, winning 5-4. By this time East End changed shirt colours to those shown on the right. The Forfarshire Cup brought more joy for The East- the first round saw a very respectable 3-2 win against Dundee Harp at East Dock Street. Harp had contested the first four Forfarshire Cup finals, winning 3 in a row between 1885-1887. The 2nd round was a goal feast at Pitkerro:
"A fast and high-scoring game ended- East End 7 goals; Montrose 5."
The goals did not cease there however, as the semi final, also at Pitkerro, produced another high scoring encounter:
"The East End had the best of the game all through, and at the close the scores stood- East End, 6; Forfar Athletic, 3."
This set up a final with early Forfarshire Cup heavyweights- Arbroath. Arbroath defeated Lochee United 5-1 in the semi-final and Our Boys 4-2 in the 2nd round to reach this stage. It must be stated that in those days, the Forfarshire Cup was a big deal, indeed, some of the crowds for the finals matched those of the Scottish Cup finals. When we think of the Forfarshire Cup these days, we think of tournaments not starting, not being completed, teams fielding youth players, matches arranged at short notice with no press coverage and of course, a competition comprising of only 7 teams. Not so 120 years ago. Back then it ranked as highly as the Scottish Cup and certainly it was more practical in terms of travelling to games. For the first tournament in 1883-84 there were 18 teams- 12 from Dundee (14 if you include Lochee and Broughty Ferry)- this meant a lot of competitive derbies to arouse interest.
So, East End reached the exalted berth of a final spot, but could they do the business? Dundee Harp's East Dock Street was the venue and about 3,500 turned out. East End started brightly:
"Soon after the ball was started the Arbroath custodian was called on to defend. Thereafter both goals were visited in turn but the Dundee team had the best of the play, and kept the Arbroath men busy. Again and again they looked like scoring, but by smart play in front of goal Arbroath prevented this."
However, East End would regret not taking advantage:
"Just before half-time Buick secured possession of the leather, and, passing to Willocks on the right, that player sent in a beautiful shot, and the first period ended- Arbroath, one goal; East End, nothing."
The second half started furiously and "so eager were the players to score that one or two good chances were muddled". However Arbroath's Petrie (who scored a world record 13 goals in that 36-0 win) added a second for Arbroath. This seemed to spur East End but they could only claw one goal back- Arbroath's defence was just too good on the day. It finished 2-1 to Arbroath.
As illustrated above, The East got rid of the light blue trims on the collar and cuffs by 1889-90 and if you look closely you will notice recent Dundee Hall of Fame inductee William Longair sitting in the front row with the (Dundee Charity?) Cup to his right. Last season's Forfarshire Cup final gave East End a taste for more and this was evident in their performances in the 3 cup trophies this year. First up was the Scottish Cup and East End swept aside Broughty 6-1 and Wanderers 2-0, both away from home. Next up was an away tie against Our Boys. East End edged out their great rivals 3-2 at West Craigie Park. The same scoreline at home saw off Cambuslang and a 2-2 draw away to Moffat followed up by a 5-1 win in the replay set up a quarter final spot against 3-time Scottish Cup Winners Vale of Leven. The home tie v Moffat was played at Harp's East Dock Street ground in front of 5,000-a sign perhaps, that East End was outgrowing Pitkerro Park? East Dock Street may have just been more accessible for the out of town side. Whatever the reason, it proved fruitful with Longair opening the scoring but Moffat quickly equalised; however, East End proved to be too strong.
The quarter final pairing was unkind- away to Vale of Leven in Alexandria. Nevertheless, East End started well and a lot of "runs and counter-runs" were evident as was long balls by both teams. Vale eventually managed to break the deadlock and added another before half time. Longair twisted his ankle and could not play in the 2nd half. Despite this, East End gave a good account of themselves but Vale managed another goal just after half time. With the game over as a contest, half an hour of "uninteresting" football followed and East End were unfortunate to concede a fourth with the last kick of the ball. East End lined up: Goal- McIntosh; Backs- Brown & Salmond; Half-backs- Petrie, McHardie & Spalding; Forwards- McCulloch, McLaren, Longair, Proctor & Ramsay.
This was easily East End's best ever Scottish Cup run and they hoped they would continue the momentum into their next cup match- the 1889-90 Forfarshire Cup final on 18th January 1890. East End warmed up for the final the week before with a 4-0 win over Wanderers. Our Boys also warmed up with a fine hard fought win over Dundee Harp at West Craigie Park, a very hard fought game in fact- the game had to be cut short after an Our Boys fan and a Harp fan ran on to the pitch and "exchanged blows"!
The scene was set, the game was held at East Dock Street Park and 6,000 turned out to see Dundee's premier sides contest the final. East End won the toss and Our Boys got stuck in immediately roughing up an East End player, but The East gave as good as they got though and retaliated in kind. The ref was having none of it however, and stopped play to have some stern words. It seemed to have the desired affect as the rest of the game was played out without incident. Half time came and the teams changed ends with Our Boys leading 2-1. Craik scoring for East End.
The 2nd half was eagerly anticipated and once kick off came excitement levels increased. Large swathes of the crowd willed The East to level the score but Our Boys' defence was just too strong and the hardest fought Forfarshire Cup final yet ended in Our Boys' favour. East End lodged a protest due to the crowd encroaching on the field of play, but this was later dismissed.
All was not lost however, as East End made yet another final in the shape of the Dundee Charity Cup, played on May 10th, 1890. The East were in no mood to let another trophy slip from their grasp and promptly thumped Dundee Strathmore 9-1 at East Dock Street, and the Strathmore inside-right Anderson got a nasty kick in the stomach for good measure. Have it.
Arguably, 1889-90 very much belonged to East End where the Dundee clubs are concerned, but 1890-91 belonged to Our Boys. Our Boys warmed up for the season with two impressive friendly victories over Hibs, 3-2 in March at West Craigie in snowy conditions which restricted the game to two halves of 35 minutes; and a 4-1 victory in May in beautiful conditions, also at West Craigie.
The Scottish Cup campaign saw a walk over in favour of The East over Stranraer and a 4-2 win over Renfrew side Johnstone. This set up a 3rd round meeting with Our Boys at West Craigie Park where 5,000 would witness a 4-0 win for Our Boys.
Inbetween cup competitions and the absence of any league format, friendlies were very much still in vogue and in Dec 1890 Our Boys and East End met:
"These two great local rivals met at Pikerro Park, the ground of the former. A stubbornly contested and exciting game ended in a draw of one goal each"
Our Boys and East End both made the semi-final of the Forfarshire Cup and avoided each other in the draw. East End made no mistake and beat Arbroath 9-2, while Our Boys edged out Montrose 2-1 to set up a replay of the previous season's final.
"Several thousand spectators lined the ropes" at East Dock Street and puddles were evident on the pitch. East End's Craik started play and the game was fairly even for a long period and both goalmouths were visited before Malloch for Our Boys opened the scoring via a counter attack. Robertson soon put the Boys 2 up. Malloch wasted an opportunity to notch a third but soon after made no mistake and netted his second and Our Boys' third. The referee blew for half time, but was reminded that he had, in fact, only played 40 minutes (a rugby background perhaps?). The ref promptly obliged to play out the remaining 5 minutes but not before the obligatory East End protest- which was dismissed. East End managed to pull one back before the real half time whistle. After the break East End's McIntosh pulled another back and another period of level play ensued. However, a quick one-two from Our Boys virtue of a scrimmage (a popular term of the time-possibly meaning a goal mouth scramble) and a strike from Buttar put the Boys 5-2 up. Malloch netted his hattrick and the game ended 6-2 for Our Boys, who retained the trophy. Our Boys went on to take the Dundee Charity Cup later that season also, beating Johnstone Wanderers in the final. A nice little double for East End's rivals.
Despite Our Boys' exploits the previous season, East End were able to take over the lease of Dundee's best equipped ground, Carolina Port- a ground Dundee FC would enjoy 5-6 happy years at before ground expansion proved problematic. 1891-2 would also see the introduction of the Northern League- a local equivalent of the Scottish League and, initially, for teams from- Perthshire, Forfarshire, Aberdeen and, later, Fife.
The 1891-92 Scottish Cup kicked off with a 3-1 win away to Forfar, then a 7-1 win away to Vale of Atholl. The 3rd round was tied 1-1 with Dundee Harp but the replay ended 2-0 to East End. The 4th round was as far as they got though, going down 6-3 to Monkcastle. So, back to the local competitions and the Forfarshire semi-final of 21-12-1891 threw up an Our Boys v East End fixture. East End went into the game with confidence on the back of a 3-0 friendly victory over Our Boys at Carolina Port a couple of weeks before. The game wasn't widely reported in the national press but we learn that East End won a "hard and fast" match 3-1. The tide was turning back in favour of East End this season it seems. East End met Montrose in the final of the Forfarshire Cup and, unprecedented in the cup's 126 years, East End lost their fourth final in a row, 5-3. Surprisingly, East End protested. This time the complaint was that Montrose turned up late. The cup was withheld until the protest was not upheld and Montrose were awarded the trophy.
Meanwhile East End were going well in the Northern League with wins over Arbroath (5-0) and "keen rivals for the Northern League" Montrose (2-1) and were looking good to take the inaugural league championship. East End carried the good form into the Dundee Charity Cup in May 1892 with a first round win over Johnstone Wanderers at East Dock Street and won 3-2. East End made it all the way to the final where they met Our Boys on 28th May 1892.
Several thousand spectators turned out for the final. The team line ups that day: East End- Benvie, Ramsay, Brown, Gibb, Longair, Lyon, Craik, Fyffe, Reid, Beattie and Gilligan; Our Boys- Gould, Dow, Brown, Matthew, Shepherd, Erentz, Coupar, George, Dundas, Grewar, Buttar. It took two goals from East End's Craik to get Our Boys going and Dundas scored two quick goals for "the Blues" in reply. The game really got going from here and "fast" play followed. East End scored a third shortly before half time. Our Boys had the best of the play in the second half and desperately tried for an equaliser but East End managed to hang on for the win.
The Northern League was also hotly contested between these two sides and ultimately so close that nothing could separate the them and thus they were declared joint champions. The treble only just eluded East End.
Planning for the Future of Football in the City
1892-93 was, of course East End's last season. The club trotted out in light blue and white stripes for this season-the colours Dundee FC would initially adopt. The team was determined to win the Forfarshire Cup and yet another semi-final appearance was on the cards; a fifth straight final was not, however as Dundee Harp won the tie 5-2. That left the Northern League and Dundee Charity Cup. East End couldn't retain their Northern League title and only finished 2nd while Our Boys, on the other hand, finished second bottom. Our Boys' didn't have too much luck in the Dundee Charity Cup either losing 4-2 to East End in the final in front of 5,900 at East Dock Street.
Of course, something far more significant happened in 1892-93. There were hints and suggestions of a merger between these two great Dundee clubs and this finally came to be after a plea by an Our Boys official to unite some of the factions within the city and harness that support for a league club. East End and Our Boys were possibly the best two candidates to merge. Any local senior club with ambitions really had to consider merging to even think about applying for the fledgling Scottish Football League. Johnstone Wanderers and Strathmore did the same of course, and the new club- Dundee Wanderers managed a Division Two spot. This only lasted a season however and losing Clepington Park to big spending Dundee Hibs did it for them, as did Dundee FC beating them to the punch for a Division One spot. Whether Wanderers could have won their league place back is debateable however. The other big Dundee club- Dundee Harp- could also have achieved great things. Three times winners of the Dundee Charity Cup, three times winners of the Forfarshire Cup, with a well equipped ground and a terrific backing- 10,000 once turned out to see them play; Harp were badly run and when they couldn't pay match guarantees the SFA suspended them. They reformed however, and took the name Dundee Hibernian (not to be confused with you-know-who) before cheekily renaming themselves Dundee Harp again. Ladened with debt, perhaps in part, due to losing two major rivals in East End and Our Boys and lucrative Scottish Cup games due to the reorganising of the cup format; they folded in the 1890s. And so, Dundee's senior clubs slowly went one-by-one until two were left standing...Dundee FC & Dundee Hibernian.
The last game I can find reference to with regard to East End is a Northern League game against Dundee Harp on 20 May 1893 where "the Irishmen won by four goals to two goals". By the time of that game it is hard to believe that the wheels of motion towards a merger were not already in place...
SFL AGM 12-06-1893"The Scottish Football League- The annual general meeting of the Scottish Football League was held last evening in the offices, West Regent Street, Glasgow. Mr A Lawrence, Dumbarton, president of the League, occupied the chair, and there was a full attendance of representatives. The proceedings were in private. In the accounts it was shown that, including a balance of £76, the income for the last year was £850, and the expenditure fell short of that sum by £140. It was decided to devote a portion of the balance to charity. Applications for admission to the League were received from St. Bernard's, Greenock Morton, Port Glasgow Athletic, Hibernians, Cowlairs, Linthouse, Glasgow Thistle, and the Dundee Club. The Abercorn and Clyde clubs, which were lowest in the competition last year, also sought re-election. After discussion, it was decided to admit the St. Bernard's and the Dundee club to membership. The applications of Abercorn and Clyde were refused, so that the number of clubs in the league remains at ten. The proposal by St.Mirren that the gross receipts at matches should be divided instead of the net receipts was rejected."
"Up Wi' The Bonnets" & "They Wore the Dark Blue" by Norrie Price
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