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.