HULLTOON HERALD: Supporters Association launches tinfoil hat range

tinhatbrandedDundee FC Supporters Association have launched a range of branded tinfoil hats to mark the one-week anniversary of them writing to the Scottish FA alleging a top-level conspiracy involving referee Steven McLean.

The DSA, who believe McLean awarded Kilmarnock a controversial penalty at Dens Park because his dad once shared a Panini sticker with Killie boss Steve Clarke’s brother, will reinvest all proceeds from the range trying to uncover further evidence of plots against the Dark Blues.

In the context of Scottish football, tinfoil hates are commonly associated with the paranoia displayed by both sides of the Old Firm but the DSA now hope their approach will turn Dundee into the third force of persecution delusions.

“We need to find the truth that the mainstream media aren’t interested in,” said a DSA spokesman. “We want to investigate claims that Bobby Madden’s dad was in the Shimmy and that Willie Collum once downloaded Love Is In The Air. Want to know how high this goes? We believe SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell is actually Freddy van der Hoorn with a mask and fake weegie accent.

“The SFA clearly knows more than SFA about 9/11 and chemtrails may well be genetically targeted at Dundee supporters. We’re big anti-vaxxers. The MMR jab is designed to render Dees infertile. Buy our tinfoil hats and protect yourself from mind control while helping our quest for justice.”

tinfoil

The DSA spokesman confirmed that their letter to the SFA was written in green ink but refused to comment on speculation that they had embarked upon their campaign to divert attention from the failings of Neil McCann and the club’s board calling it “an outlandish conspiracy theory”.

NEW PODCAST! #208: Dives and dear tickets

Join Gary, Grant and Danny as they go over the Kilmarnock game and agree that focusing on the winning penalty doesn’t tell half the story. The trio also wearily discuss McCann’s future *again* before moaning about ticket prices breaching the £30 barrier.

 

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HULLTOON HERALD: Queen ”envies McCann’s job security”

Hereditary monarch Queen Elizabeth II believes Neil McCann’s position is even more secure than her own job for life, it has emerged.

The Queen, known by some as Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor, spoke of her jealousy after Dundee slumped to yet another home defeat at the weekend, leaving the Dark Blues are rooted to the foot of the Scottish Premiership. Twelve of the forty two SPFL clubs have changed manager so far this season but, despite Dundee having the worst record of any side in the country, recording their worst ever start to a season and having been humbled by lower league opposition in the League Cup, McCann remains in post.

“One remembers one’s grandfather marvelling about Dundee’s woeful start to the 1928/29 season,” said the 92-year-old embodiment of the class-based glass ceiling. “It stood out because he only ever really mentioned Rangers’ results. But McCann started this season even worse, keeps falling out with everyone and persists with a style that is as boring as it is ineffective. Ayr and Dunfermline pumped them in the cup FFS. And every week he’s still there spinning his tombola and insisting on 3000 passes that go nowhere. Teflon. He must have incriminating photos of John Nelms or something.

“Compare that to one’s situation. It’s only 370 years since a British monarch was executed and yet the chances of the servile masses rising up to overthrow us royals are far greater than the Dundee board realising how far McCann is out of his depth. Especially since it’s only a matter of time before one’s subjects realising how ludicrous the notion of someone, a potential belter like that son of mine for example, ruling over an entire nation due to birth-right is. One wishes one had Neil McCann’s ‘problems’.”

Professor Glen Dingies, of the Institute for Futba Studies, said, “The IFS is a serious research organisation and all our public statements are underpinned by rigorously ascertained facts. McCann must have the photos. It’s the only plausible explanation.”

 

Image result for queen miserable

Derry Got Soul: You Keep Me Hanging On

When did you stop punching the air? I was still doing on Tuesday when I remembered what had happened at the weekend. We won! An actual game of football! Two fucking nil!

 

Viewers in the DD postcode tuned in to Sportscene for the first time in weeks. Newspapers were bought so match reports could be savoured. Social media passwords were remembered. Unless I’m very much mistaken the weather has been glorious, dogs have stopped shiteing in the street and seagulls are in retreat.

 

Has being bottom of the league ever felt so good?

 

Football is a game of fine margins and wildly oscillating emotions. If the previous seven games hadn’t been so would-John-Hughes-make-a-difference dismal then beating another below-average side wouldn’t have felt so skip-to-work fantastic. Our luck may have been ridden at times in the second half but we should have been 2-0 up before Hamilton came into the match. Dundee deserved that win and fair fucks to every player in dark blue, those in the dugout and everyone who travelled through to lend their support. Players are hitting full fitness after injuries. Kenny Miller is returning from suspension. The manager’s knitwear is suddenly fitting better again.

 

Yes, yes, one swallow does not a summer make, the law of averages dictates that we had to win at some point and the patient’s condition remains critical, if a little more stable. But, at the same time, if you haven’t spent the past week pushing rationality to the back of your mind as you plot our run to Hampden then you’re doing football wrong.

 

We’ve got at least 24 hours of our unbeaten run to go, lads and lasses. Let’s enjoy it.

 

NEW PODCAST! #207: #McCannInForABit

We won! We won a game of football! Join Gary, Danny and Ryan in disbelief as they go over a victory against Accies, before delving into listeners’ questions about the new stadium, McCann’s future, and whether or not Lewis Spence is a dumpling.

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HULLTOON HERALD: Dundee fans demand appropriately syllabled replacement for Laszlo

Csaba Laszlo’s replacement as Dundee United manager must be someone whose name fits well with a song popular among Dundee fans, according to followers of the Dens Park club.

Laszlo, sacked as United manager after a humiliating 5-1 home defeat to Ross County, had the perfect name for the Derry version of the 1967 Monkees hit Daydream Believer. Now Dundee supporters are demanding that Tannadice chairman Mike Martin considers the syllabic implications when appointing a new manager.

“’Cheer up Csaba Laszlo, oh what can it mean, to a sad arabbastard and a shite football team’,” sang lifelong Dee Duncan McDonald for the last time. “See? It fits perfectly. Mike Martin has to do the right thing here. We want either four syllables or someone with a two-syllable first name and single-syllable surname, like sleepy Jean in the original song.

“John Hughes would be a funny as fuck appointment from a footballing perspective but ‘Joh-nay Hugh-zzz doesn’t scan so well and no one calls him Johnny other than his mum. We had to do it with ‘Craigy’ Brewster and it felt like a pet name. Mc-Na-mar-a worked well. So did Paatelainen and Ray Mc-Kinn-on. We demand more of the same. No one wants to go back to the Paaaaaw-el Stuuuuu-rock days.”

 

Derry Got Soul: It’s a Family Affair

I climbed through a gap intended for a toddler still giddy with the news Dundee were two-up at half-time. I was pursuing my son through a labyrinthine soft play area and, for once, couldn’t care less about the overweight hellbairns screaming in my face as they fired missile after missile in my eye.

Between plastic-covered rollers unsuitable for 37-year-olds on the cusp of overweightness I squeezed before traversing a rope ladder designed to inflict maximum possible damage on shoeless feet. At last we had reached the top of the Big Chute. This was the fourth or fifth time in a row we’d climbed to this peak and I decided to reward myself by checking the score. Unfortunately the signal was as weak as Neil McCann’s long-term employment prospects so back in the pocket went the phone and down the chute we slid.

“Again! Again Daddy!”

“I think it’s time you had a wee drink, pal,” I said, guiding him over to the café area. I pointed my phone at the space between the vending machine and vomit-covered high chair, the closest thing The Fun Factory has to a WiFi hotspot. What the fuck? 2-2 now and Inverness missed a penalty as well? The next 15 minutes passed in a blizzard of frantic score-checking and bad parenting. We held on for a draw that was to prove vital come the end of the season and the wee man was bribed into staying quiet with sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks. Even when I’m not at Dundee games I’m never really not there either. I’m sure you’re the same.

Time for Livin’

I’ve done Dumfries, Stranraer, Dingwall and Inverness and my share of daft midweekers that necessitated half-days off either side of them. I know the road from Glasgow to Greenock depressingly well. There are the only four SPFL grounds I’ve never seen Dundee play at. But all that stopped in November 2014. My life can be divided into two time periods – Before Bairn and Anno Bairn – and I’ve been to a grand total of five games outwith the city’s boundaries in the AB era with even home games having to be sacrificed on occasion.

Away games are no longer marked for on-bus antics, running to the front to celebrate late goals or learning which divisions of Police Scotland are most forgiving of public drinking/urination. The biggest moments of the season are remembered by the family-friendly venue you happened to be at on that day.

The problem is that even when I’ve not physically followed the Mushy Peas, I can’t passively let the game proceed and wait until 5pm or later to discover the outcome of a match I’ve no influence over. The descent from Perfect Family Man begins at 2pm when the results of McCann’s latest tombola turn are known. Then there are the inevitable “THE FUCK???” “Where’s Kamara?” “Fucking Moussa again” and “cunt is a clown” messages to various group chats. Then the game actually kicks off and I’m obsessively check for updates, feeling utterly impotent and shaking with adrenaline even when miles away from the action.

I was jumping up and down by the bear enclosure at Camperdown Wildlife Centre when we went 3-0 up at Dingwall and my demolition of a household wall become more ferocious when Scott Brown scored the winner for Celtic against us. I was on the boat-shaped climbing frames at Campy (far inferior to the 80s pirate ships BTW) when St Johnstone went two-up after 20 minutes and was checking my phone throughout the whole of Ferdinand the Bull when we extracted revenge the following season. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard JFK had been shot. I will always remember being at a play date at Little Pipers when Partick Thistle scored their injury-time winner last year. Trying to maintain a poker face when Dundee are getting scudded and you’re at the birthday party of a child with a Dad known to be an arab is one of the most important skills of Derry parenthood.

If You Want Me to Stay

It’s hardly unknown for punters to stop going to games – at least temporarily – after the birth of children. Time is tight, a stupid amount of organised activities must be negotiated and partners tend to get hacked off at being abandoned for the six hours it takes to watch Dundee get hosed at Fir Park before you return too drunk to help with the bedtime routine. And, as new man/millennial/snowflake/sappy as it may sound, spending your only day off together as a family is frankly more rewarding than watching a goalless war of attrition at Livingston. So giving up away days is a fair exchange for keeping your season ticket, even if your pre- and post-game pub time might now be limited by the vagaries of children’s entertainment.

The best thing about having family isn’t love, joy or the expectation that someone will look after you when you become an incontinent shadow of your former self. No, the best reason to bring children into the world is that it gives you an excuse to miss certain away games, even if a bit of you still ends up travelling through with the lads.

NEW PODCAST! #206: #McCannOut

Gary is joined by Danny and Ryan to pick over the bones of yet another insipid defeat. The trio analyse where we keep going wrong and wonder just what it will take for a change of manager to take place.

if you have any questions, suggestions for future features or discussion points, get in touch with the show on Twitter @provieroadpod or e-mail the show: provieroadpodcast@gmail.com .

Derry Rhumba!

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EDITORIAL: McCann Must Go

Football, the old cliché goes, is a results business. Long gone are the days where a struggling manager is given months, never mind years, to turn around a team and remake it in his own image. While some will mourn the loss of the conditions which allowed Alex Ferguson to become a Manchester United legend, others will rightly recognise that the game has changed immeasurably since the 1990s, when a certain diminutive winger scored a cheeky lob-cum-cross to keep Dundee Football Club afloat. The Bosman ruling has shifted the balance of power within the dressing room towards the squad; the advent of social media has made it more difficult to ignore the views of long-suffering fans (as well as giving disgruntled players a chance to vent); most importantly, the infusion of money (and ensuing inequality between divisions, even in Scotland) has turned relegation from a sporting inconvenience to an existential threat.

Relegation for Dundee this season would be a disaster, both on and off the park. For a club with a top six budget to be cut adrift with zero points after six games is beyond embarrassing. For a club looking to move to a new stadium and struggling to get fans through the turnstiles, losing a battle against relegation would undo years of work to return some semblance of normalcy to its governance and finances. We only have to look across the road to our neighbours to see how one bad season can detonate under what seemed like a steady ship.

Nobody likes to admit they got it wrong, or to concede that their club and team are in a shitstorm of their own making. It’s human nature, and it’s understandable, but we can’t bury our heads in the sand any longer. The simple fact is that Neil McCann is no longer fit to be Dundee manager, and the uncomfortable truth is that he hasn’t been for quite some time. Every game he remains in charge is another 3 points thrown away, another handful of supporters who swear not to come back until he’s booted, and another dent to the confidence and unity of the squad.

The most surprising element of it all is the relatively unanimous opinion among supporters that his time is up. Although we may deny it now, our last three dismissals – Hartley, Bomber Brown and Barry Smith – all divided opinion among the support, and indeed among those of us involved with WDTPR. The WDTPR team, which includes those involved with The Dark Blues and Up Wi’ The Bonnets, stretches the whole spectrum of optimism among the Dens Park faithful, but after the Ayr United debacle, even the happiest of happy clappers among us admitted McCann had to go. Members of the media who aren’t his friends and other supporters are looking on in stunned bemusement at our board’s failure to sack the manager, and as for the boardrooms of Hamilton and St Mirren, champagne corks must pop every week as they’re given more time and fixtures to build up a points barrier.

The only people who seem to fail to accept reality are unfortunately the only people with the power to make the necessary changes. Nobody wants to see Dundee return to the dark days of administration, and the financial support from the American consortium has been instrumental in Dundee becoming – for now – an established, if struggling, Premiership side. However, their financial clout must now be met with footballing nous. In a perverse way, the regime’s patience and loyalty, first with Hartley and now with McCann, is admirable.

However, anybody with any knowledge of the game can see that the McCann project has failed spectacularly with no chance of redemption whatsoever, and the constant rumour mill regarding how many games he has left to prove himself does nothing other than erect a Potemkin village of confidence in the manager and his “philosophy”. The longer the board dither, dally and delay over a man who has lost the confidence of the fans and the players, the more we will sink into quicksand and the more toxic the atmosphere at Dens will become.

The most frustrating element of the Board’s attitude is that they expect more fans to turn up and pay sky high prices to watch absolute dreck on the park with nothing more than empty platitudes that it will “get better”. Although the diehards among us will watch anything in dark blue – Christ, we turned up under Alan Kernaghan and through seven straight seasons of the Championship – it’s the wider, more ambivalent support which ebb and flow with the club’s fortunes that make the financial difference. We’ve all heard rumours about empty hospitality lounges, chants in the Bobby Cox against the manager and wider discontent, let alone witnessing the manager arguing with fans in the stands, and for the Board to take no action whatsoever despite all the warning signs is not exactly encouraging.

We said at the start that football is a results business, so the above narrative of a fanbase in revolt and a popular former player reduced to comic book villain should be put into its proper context. To those who only encounter Dundee on Sportscene or in the papers and only hear from the manager or some board members, it may seem as if we’ve just been “unlucky”, “not caught the breaks”, and “just need to get in front and then we’ll play”. We’re sorry, but that is pish. For every offside trap against St Johnstone or Hamilton brainfart against St Mirren that was punished, there’s been a Kusunga slip or missed open goal that we’ve escaped from. We are exactly where we deserve to be just now – rock bottom – and although the players must take their share of blame, the buck ultimately stops with the gaffer. A quick examination of his tactics, signings and man management makes grim reading.

Tactics

Neil McCann’s constant team tactics tombola prevents players from building up understanding and plays into the hands of our opponents. Playing a back three against Rangers with Cammy Kerr as the left-sided centre back should be a sackable offence (with no malice at all towards Cammy, who has done what he can in an alien position). The narrow diamond formation favoured by McCann at a time when the use of attacking full backs is in vogue is asking for trouble, and that’s before considering the use of players who have said themselves they prefer playing further up the pitch as our own full backs.

The fact that we’ve yet to go ahead in a game and therefore failed to come back from behind demonstrates the lack of fight in the team, but is also indicative of the failure throughout the side to produce and convert chances. McCann often talks about our possession and “domination” of games, but the ugly truth is that teams know they can let us have the ball and do absolutely nothing with it for large stretches of the game before hitting us on the break. It is surely unnecessary to remind everybody that points, not possession percentages, decides who stays up and who goes down. United fans across the city have not been shy in telling us that it’s reminiscent of their own relegation season, where a smooth-talking manager kept his job far longer than he should.

Signings

Management is as much about signing players as it is about selecting which eleven to send out and do battle. A stick we all used to beat Hartley with was his transfer policy, and the parallels with McCann are now alarming. They both started off with a couple of hits (Stewart, Hemmings and Bain in Hartley’s case, Hendry and Kamara for McCann), but their overall record, particularly with strikers post-Stewart/Hemmings, was/is dreadful. Even before his horror show 15-minute cameo against Ayr United which ended with a disgraceful red card, Sofien Moussa was considered a joke figure. Signing a 38-year-old striker on a two-year deal and condemning our “big” summer signing to the bench after failing to impress is just par for the course.

This season, it’s only got worse all over the park. Spending money on a goalkeeper famed for his poor distribution and lack of comfort with the ball at his feet when your team “philosophy” is playing it out from the back would make you laugh if you didn’t cry. The story of our defence is just as tragicomic; Kerr Waddell, who was earning plaudits for breaking into the team last season and his no-nonsense defending, has been sent out on loan along with fellow centre back Dan Jefferies. At left-back, we released Kevin Holt and Basque Jon and replaced them with Nathan Ralph, who hasn’t made much of an impression, and Celtic loanee Calvin Miller, who has himself said he’s better at left mid. Often, it’s been up to the aforementioned Cammy Kerr to fill in on the opposite flank.

With last year’s captain, Darren O’Dea, left out in the cold, Steven Caulker leaving the club under a bit of a cloud, and Kusunga alternating between suspension, injury and outright disaster, we’ve had to resort to signing two players on loan from down south to fill the gaps at centre-half. As for our midfield, it’s failed to provide either a Motherwell-style physicality or a Hibs-style flair to influence proceedings at either end of the park. Even the return of the poised Glen Kamara at the weekend couldn’t save us from the inevitable.

Man management

The transfer policy under McCann has been exacerbated by his apparent approach to staff relations. Disgruntled former players are nothing new, of course, but for mild-mannered Julen Etxabeguren to complain in the press about his approach is enough to raise anybody’s eyebrows. Rumours of fall outs with Scott Bain, Scott Allan, Kevin Holt, Basque Jon, Steven Caulker, Paul McGowan, Darren O’Dea and Marcus Haber to name a few suggest a temperament unsuited to the rigours of modern management, and a failure to recognise that freezing players out of a squad which will inevitably be hit with suspensions and injuries will only come back to haunt you.

With hindsight, as funny as McCann’s bust-up with Tommy Wright was, it too was indicative of wider issues, and there’s little doubt that it’s the Ulsterman having the last laugh. The story about making the team watch the Manchester City documentary after getting pumped out of the cup by Ayr United doesn’t exactly breed confidence in his ability to motivate players, and Gowser’s recent comments in the press about the atmosphere in the dressing room only contribute to a sense of a squad with nothing going its way.

Every manager has their foibles and way of doing things, and we have no doubt we’d forgive Neil for noising up other managers and having the odd stushie with players if everything was going well. However, the statistics for his reign are nothing but damning. This season alone, we’ve lost 6 in a row, making this the worst ever start to a league season for Dundee and the second worst top flight team on current form in the world (behind Guingamp of France, the poor sods). We’ve scored two and conceded 14 in the league – if you include games against championship teams, that becomes played eight, lost eight, scored two, conceded 18.

However, this should not come as a surprise. Under McCann, we have won 11 out of 44 league games since the start of last season. Of our 26 home games against top flight opposition during his reign, we’ve won 6, drawn 5 and lost 15, scoring 20 and conceding 43 in the process. McCann has lost over half of all the games he has been in charge, the worst of any manager since 1919. We’ve lost 4 goals on 6 occasions under McCann, and Motherwell have won as many games at Dens against top flight opposition as we have in the last calendar year, for crying out loud (four, for those of you wondering).

For Neil McCann and John Nelms to state we are in a false position is insulting to the intelligence of Dundee fans, who are the backbone of the club and have been subjected to the terrible performances, naive tactics and touchline histrionics and can see through the excuses being proffered to a pliant press. If action is not taken soon at the top, the club will reap what it has sown, and it would be too late for even the likes of Pep Guardiola to save us. Talk of boycotts and protests is surely beginning to seep into their consciousness, and with a crunch game against Hamilton on Saturday, we cannot afford to wait any longer.

Neil McCann will always be remembered fondly for his goal against Airdrieonians to send us to the League Cup Final and keep the doors at Dens open. His brief return from retirement to score a last-minute winner against Raith Rovers in the Deefiant season is the stuff of legend, and it’s a tragedy that these memories and his legacy is being tainted by the current crisis at Dens. However, no individual player or manager is bigger than a Club with a proud 125-year history and a support which has already been through more than its fair share of heartache.

For the sake of Dundee Football Club, the Board must act now and must relieve Neil McCann of his duties, before the fans vote with their feet and wallets and his efforts as a player are forever warped by recent events. We can only hope that the Board put the greater good first, and remember that while custodians come and go, the Club must endure.

Walking Down the Provie Road

Derry Got Soul: There Is A Light (That Never Goes Out)

There Is a Light (That Never Goes Out)

The above team pic re-emerged on Twitter last week and, in 2018, begs to be critically evaluated through the medium of emojis:

That strip 💙

Donald Mackay’s flares ✌🏻

Iain Fleming’s hair ✊🏻

Frank Upton’s Gazelles 😎

Cammy Fraser only being 23 on the pic 😮

George McGeachie only being 21 🤭

Jim Shirra’s double chin 🍻

The other thing that stands out is that there were some cracking footballers pictured, players who would win promotion that season and lay the foundation for nine straight Premier Division terms. The 1980s was a much better decade for music, fashion and the Mushy Peas than most people realised at the time, with the Smiths, Lacoste and Keith Wright providing the antidote to Duran Duran, tartan jeans and Ross Jack. Three straight top-six finishes? A cup final (of which we will never again talk)? Four semis? Average crowds not far shy of 10,000? What you wouldn’t do for a bit of that action these days.

Us being quite good in the 80s did however coincide with a certain other mob enjoying their best ever period, something that perhaps made contemporary fans less appreciative than they should have been. It was by no means a bad time to be a Dundee fan, but it was a frustrating one.

How Soon Is Now?

I was first taken along to Dens in 1983, with my old man’s warning not to repeat any of the language I was about to hear in front of my mum (strangely this warning didn’t extend to teachers, policemen or others who were presumably fair game in the ‘fuck off you cunt’ stakes) ringing in my ears and for the next few years Dundee always seemed to be the verge of doing something, but never quite getting there.

A return to Europe was missed out on the last day of the season twice. Our best managers were enticed elsewhere. Great youngsters were brought through and rough diamonds were brought in but their time at Dens overlapped like Jim Smith filling in at full-back.

Ian Redford departed for Ibrox before that team pic was taken while Stewart McKimmie (1983), Iain Ferguson and Cammy Fraser (both 1984), Bobby Connor (1986), Ray Stephen and Colin Hendry (both 1987), Tosh McKinlay and John Brown (both 1988) and Tommy Coyne (1989) caused varying degrees of anguish for the Dundee support when they moved on. Jim Duffy’s career was (temporarily) ended by injury in 1987 but at least we would hold on to Keith Wright into the 90s.

Redford, McKimmie, McKinlay, Ferguson, Fraser, Brown, Connor, Coyne, Wright and Hendry would all win medals and/or caps after their time at Dens, leaving you to wonder what might have happened had we been able to hold on to them all a bit longer. The problem with playing counter-factual football is that it’s easy to ignore the laws of cause-and-effect. The signings of Bomber, Connor and Stuart Rafferty were funded by Rangers raiding Dens for Ferguson and Fraser. Likewise, the Cobra and Mongoose partnership only came into being after our bid to bring Fergie back from Ibrox was turned down.

That’s not to say us Dees don’t have some reason to curse the failure of the planets – or defence and attack in our case – to align though. The free-scoring side of 87-88, with Coyne at Wright at the top of their game, was hamstrung by a leaky backline after Duffy’s early-season injury while Colin Hendry, who would go on to captain his country and win the English Premier League, had been sold as a misfiring striker before his potential at centre-half was recognised.

Archie Knox once remarked that Dundee were three players short of a very good team but every time one of those jigsaw pieces was found, another gap would appear elsewhere in the puzzle. If it was this that led him leave Dens and return to Alex Ferguson’s right-hand side at Aberdeen, then his frustration was more than matched by the Dundee support. The decade’s optimism, which Archie had done more than anyone to engender, suffered a lingering, 18-month death from October 87 to March 89 when Duffy, Bomber, Tosh and Super Tommy were lost to us in turn. Relegation followed in 1990.

By the new decade, the descent into the madness for which Dundee has been renowned ever since had begun. Instead of becoming a team capable of regularly appearing at Hampden and competing in Europe, Angus Cook was trying to merge us with United.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Any More

The much-maligned Vince Mennie, often heralded as our worst of all time, had the misfortune to be a poor player in a good team. Vince was a far better player than many to have pulled on the Dark Blue since. His fate is similar in some ways to Dundee’s in that era. With Aberdeen and United enjoying periods of historic strength in addition to the Old Firm and a resurgent Hearts, not to mention a good St Mirren side, the 80s may have been the hardest decade in Scottish football history to make an impact. All the same, given the quality of players to have trodden the hallowed turf over that period, it can’t help feel like a missed opportunity.

The same, in poorer man’s terms, could be said of the past four-and-a-bit years. We were promoted to a renamed Premiership missing three of the country’s biggest five sides. United would drop out two seasons later. Inverness, Ross County and Championship Hibs won silverware before Celtic shat themselves over Rangers’ return and appointed a proper manager. We’ve managed a solitary top 6 finish, have barely troubled the latter stages of the cup competitions and seem locked in a perennial relegation fight, one we may well succumb to this season. The chance to open up a gap over United on and off the park that would impact on the fortunes of both for a generation has been squandered and at a time when our owners have provided their managers with what they admit is a top 6 budget each year. In relative terms, all this represents a far bigger missed opportunity than the 1980s.

Still, as today’s players are fond of saying, we go again. Or, as Morrissey put it before he went all EDL, there is a light and it never goes out…