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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..."

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