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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

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