Gary and Ryan are joined by podcast debutant Al as the pod reawakens from a festive slumber. We take a whirlwind tour through the ins and outs at Dens before dipping into the latest storm over club shares and then collectively convincing each other this is the year we lift the Scottish Cup (spoiler alert: it won’t be.)
The concept of the ‘sufferah’ is deeply embedded in Jamaican culture, just as it is in the psyche of Dundee supporters. Granted, our worldview hasn’t been shaped by slavery, colonialism and economic oppression but that doesn’t mean our Scottish Cup record isn’t lamentable. And we don’t even have any decent reggae to show for it.
Another Scottish Cup campaign is upon us, the 97th since Sailor Hunter sunk Clyde to ensure the Dark Blues lifted the trophy for the first and only time to date. We’ve only made the final four times since then and the past 109 years have swung between hard luck and humiliation, with a healthy dose of heartbreak thrown in for good measure.
So when a Twitter poll asked Dundee fans to choose either a hypothetical Scottish Cup win accompanied by certain relegation or a humiliating exit this Saturday in exchange for Premiership survival there was only ever going to be one winner. Wasn’t there?
Independence supporters, Remainers and Democrats have all had their faith in democracy severely tested over the past few years but none of these reverses came close to the sheer ‘the fuck?’ness of the 2019 Derry referendum. Inexplicably, at the last count, 67% had prioritised avoiding relegation. Eh? We get relegated and promoted all the time. It’s what we do. Winning the Scottish, on the other hand, is very much not something we do.
Many Rivers to Cross
I decided to start recording my life in Scottish Cup campaigns a few years ago, a depressing task that sees me detail the stage and manner of exit for each year since I was born (yes, I am that sad). This act of masochism probably springs from the damage that supporting Dundee has wreaked upon my mind and therefore completes a vicious circle of mental self-harm. The spreadsheet of doom is dusted off annually as hope springs each January, only to be updated with the latest tale of woe and packed away for another year depressingly quickly.
Despite intensive lobbying from manufacturers of anti-depressants keen to increase their market share in the DD postcode area, I won’t share the full document here, but there are a few low points worth highlighting:
- 1980. Third round. DABs 5 Dundee 1
I’m obviously too young to remember it, but United tanking us 5-1 in our first Scottish Cup game after I was born pretty much set the tone for the following 39 years. Any hopes my old man might have harboured about the arrival of a son bringing about a change of luck were sadly misplaced.
- 1987. Semi final. DABs 3 Dundee 2
I was right behind those John Brown free-kicks that screamed towards the top corner only for Billy Thompson to claw them away. This was also the first of five consecutive exits to United. How is that even possible? Either mathematicians have been lying about probability all this time or the balls were hotter than Vince Mennie’s after a night at De Stihls when the draws were being made.
- 1992. Fourth round replay. Dundee 0 Falkirk 1
Fuck you, David Syme. Fuck you, Sky TV.
- 2000. Fourth round replay. Ayr United 1 Dundee 1 (7-6 on pens)
FML before FML was a thing.
- 2002. Fourth round replay. Dundee 1 Partick Thistle 2
A team featuring Speroni, Ketsbaia, Rae, Carranza, Sara and Caballero bossed by Martin Hardie, Danny Lennon and Gerry Britton despite knowing that a very winnable QF with Ayr was in the offing. Fan fucking Zhiy getting sent off didn’t help but at least the Beijing Megastore worked out.
- 2003. Final. Dundee 0 Rangers 1
Anyone who comes out with shite like “ah, but we had some day out, “great experience” or “at least we got there” should receive a life ban, magic circle and several chicken runs.
- 2006. Semi final. Gretna 3 Dundee 0
The last straw for a lot of fans, who either haven’t been seen at Dens since or embarked upon a lengthy sabbatical afterwards. On a personal level, I woke up the next day wearing a coat, jumper, t-shirt and nothing else and haven’t seriously drunk Guinness since.
- 2007. Third round replay. Queen of the South 2 Dundee 2 (4-2 on pens)
Extra time and penalties meant a delayed journey home from Dumfries, hungover and depressed with the temperature dial on the bus stuck at ‘Saharan’. I think we finally made it to the Myrekirk circle around 7am and I received a verbal warning for pulling a sickie a few hours later.
- 2010. Quarter final. Dundee 1 Raith Rovers 2
The Man City of The North crashing out to a Gregory Tade-inspired Raith at home as the season began disintegrating before our eyes.
- 2016. Quarter final. Rangers 4 Dundee 0
All over after 20 seconds, leaving many male fans to empathise with their partners. Not me, obviously, but the rest of you.
- 2017. Fourth round (now the stage big boys enter)
John Sutton ripping us apart and Paul Hartley sending Duffy and Williams on to save our season.
Three Little Birds
This year’s Scottish Cup is possibly the least anticipated of past four decades for Dundee fans. Even in the dark Fundesliga days, clichés about one-off games, the luck of the draw and the form book going out the window bounced around our heads as we daydreamed our way to Hampden. But this year? Beaten down by 17 defeats from 26 games, the last outing being a dire performance even by the standards of 2018/19 and an uninspiring transfer window, we collectively have The Fear. This is hardly helped by Queen of the South having previous for being season-ending bastards and our squad having been stripped bare as Jim McIntyre attempts to empty the utter shite bequeathed to him by Neil McCann and build something at least approaching a bottom-six side. It’s no wonder that a lot of fans have been tempted by the dirty money possibilities of Queens being priced at 4/1 for Saturday.
But still, football is about dreams and dread will begin to give way to wildly misplaced optimism come Saturday. And that’s why I can’t believe 67% would make the bargain they did. As was noted in the comments that followed the poll, would you really prefer to scrape to 10th in league in front of less than 5000 fans then head home for a cup of tea than lift a cup at Hampden in front of four times that number, earn the biggest hangover of your life and create a memory that stays with you until your dying day?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that if you had asked Hibs fans to choose between promotion and a Scottish Cup win at the start of 2015/16 then more than a few would have chosen the former. But how many of them were charging across the Hampden turf thinking, “sure I feel exuberant right now but I know I’ll wake up tomorrow gutted about not getting to play Hamilton and Ross County next season”? Slaying their Scottish Cup hoodoo has revitalised Hibs as a club and their crowds rose as a result, despite staying down. Financial stability is the reason most fans gave for voting for survival but the money Hibs made from winning the cup paid for their way out of the wilderness.
Dundee have been relegated five times in my lifetime and I’ve been to hundreds of games outwith the top flight. The likelihood is that even if we somehow scrape to safety this year I’ll bear witness to the drop again at some point in the not too distant future. Am I as likely to see us win the Scottish Cup though? It’s a no-brainer for me.
Either way, not having to update the spreadsheet for at least another month would be a welcome short-term boost. Surely that isn’t beyond us…
This article might have been headlined ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ had the star of that show’s reputation not been somewhat tarnished these days, so The Clash will instead provide the soundtrack for this doffing of the cap in Jim McIntyre’s direction.
Up to the dizzy heights of the play-off spot after a run of four games unbeaten, the last of which was a gutsy draw against the second-best team in the country despite being a man down for 70 minutes. Eight goals scored and only four conceded in that time. Who saw that coming when Livingston put four past us without reply? Or even when Hibs went 2-0 after half an hour? By some Darwin-challenging miracle, a seemingly invertebrate squad have suddenly developed a backbone. And started scoring goals.
Our worries are far from over and away games at Rugby Park, Pittodrie and Parkhead add up to a challenging run, to say the least. St Mirren could lose both their next two games and find themselves off bottom spot. Given the ongoing precariousness of our league position and the dearth of points from our first dozen games, we might still face heartbreak in May. McIntyre may still live up to the warnings issued by Ross Country fans. But still … what a fucking difference.
Rock the Casbah Derry
Last week Dundee did something that proved beyond us throughout Neil McCann’s entire reign and scored four games in a top-flight game. Four! That’s half the amount we had scored the whole season up to then. We were also organised and hard-working. We defended solidly and attacked with purpose. And width! We played with width rather than making a few dozen passes that go nowhere ahead of the inevitable hoof up the park by ‘agricultural’ centre-halves clearly uncomfortable with building from the back. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, watching Dundee is, for the moment at least, an experience unlikely to leave blood spouting from your eyes.
As the old cliche goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you. Yes, Hamilton managed to drum up a performance as bad as anything we have produced this season but it is results against them and St Mirren that will largely dictate where we finish come the end of the season. If you look up six-pointer in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of Kenny Miller arms aloft as he takes the acclaim of the Derry after completing his hat-trick.
(Maybe we wont go) Straight to Hell
Having seen both Hamilton and St Mirren in action recently I’m feeling bold enough to state that we can finish the season in 10th place while still being far from brave enough to claim unequivocally that we will. Getting enough points on the board to give ourselves a chance of staying up post-transfer window was always the short-term aim, however, and that is suddenly looking like a possibility, not least because we’ve suddenly got a goal machine on our hands
If I’m being honest, Kenny Miller has probably looked after himself a bit better than I have over the years. Maybe he doesn’t even wince when getting out of bed for a nocturnal pish (It happens at our age – how’s your prostate, Kenny?) but signing someone only a few months younger than I am couldn’t help but set off alarm bells and these fears were hardly eased by his first five or six games for Dundee. But then King Kenny wasn’t exactly helped by being deployed on the wing, and the key to our recent improved form is rooted in two managerial masterstrokes:
- Playing players in their proper positions
- Playing as few of Neil McCann’s summer signings as is humanly possible
A left-back at left-back. Forwards up front. A physical presence in the middle. Pace on the flanks. 4-4-2 or as close to it as possible. Get the ball wide quickly and get crosses into the box. There’s nothing radical that Jim McIntyre has done other than strip the game back to its basics. The Livingston, Hearts and Celtic games could scarcely have gone worse but the circumstances surrounding them offered clear mitigation. There was definite improvement at Motherwell even if we lacked a goal threat and, while Martin Woods is clearly no Zidane, he is on a different level to those who had been flitting in and out the team prior to his arrival. We should have beaten St Mirren and the Hibs comeback was brilliant. And then we won a game (A FUCKING HOME GAME!!!) before grinding out a draw against Rangers that was almost as satisfying as Mark O’Hara’s hunskelping antics of the past couple of seasons.
Baby steps in the grand scheme of things, but big, bloody giant steps in the context of season 2018/19.
Gary, Grant and Danny bask in the glory of a two-game unbeaten run, and take the opportunity to dole out some praise to the older heads in the squad as well as admiring the back to basics approach we’ve adopted. We turn our attention to our fellow relegation candidates and hear about why one podcaster was fatshamed by an Accies midfielder…
When Nigel Farage called the proposed Brexit agreement “the worst deal in history” last week it immediately became apparent he was unaware Dundee once gave Hibs Martin Boyle in exchange for Alex Harris.
By way of illustrating the inequity of this trade, Boyle scored a double on his full international debut in the week that Harris came off the bench to make his debut in the 6th tier of English football. And yet Farage knew nothing of this.
This level of unforgiveable ignorance should, of course, embarrass the serial liar, shameless hypocrite and professional ballbag into abandoning his Question Time residency and withdrawing from public life but the toad-faced irritant is hardly known for his humility. Instead I’ll settle for his predictably vacuous interjection providing a useful segue into a discussion about the staggeringly bad transfer moves the Dark Blues have completed over the past few years.
From A Window
Modern football is rubbish, part 1,428,005. No longer do we just debate our favourite players, matches and goals, but also our best administration (Dundee fans only, terms and conditions apply) and our worst transfer windows. It seemed that the summer of 2016 could never be topped (or bottomed, really) in this regard until Neil McCann watched the sun set on last season and told Graham Gartland to hold his beer.
Schadenfreude at relegating United was balanced with the fear from May 2016 onward as our deadly strikeforce was coveted on both sides of the border. At least they wouldn’t be leaving on the cheap though…
Despite John Nelms shouting ‘fake news!’ when the local press suggested that a clause in top scorer Kane Hemmings’ contract meant he could leave Dens for as little as £250,000, it turned out that it was the Dundee MD who was telling porkies. One half of said strikeforce had exited stage left, but at least we still had Greg Stewart…
Birmingham’s capture of Stewart meant 36 goals from the previous season had just walked out of the door, following in the footsteps of Gary Harkins after the Glorious One triggered a contract extension that Hartley was unwilling to honour.
Never mind, with the fat part of £750,000 burning a hole in our pocket and the last of ‘Bomber’s deadwood’ cleared to free up wages, we resources aplenty to strengthen in all areas. Instead we got:
James Vincent and Danny Williams – Rarely discussed in isolation by Dundee fans. Their pre-contract signings were announced in tandem, the pair were both handed three-year deals and, it is fair to say, both underwhelmed. Then-Inverness manager John Hughes claimed his club couldn’t come close to matching the money Dundee were offering ‘Vinilliams’ and, while it is hardly unknown for Yogi to talk shite from time to time, it certainly fitted with an emerging narrative of Hartley paying over the odds for duds he would dole out lengthy contacts to.
Michael Duffy – No one who witnessed Duffy’s brief and unillustrious spell at Dens could have foreseen him becoming the subject of an international tug o’ war between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Kevin Gomis – A late-window desperation signing impossible to describe without using the words slow, lazy, cumbersome, and shite.
Faissal El Bakhtaoui – Always seemed to be playing with one eye on his YouTube video and, for every screamer, there were five seagulls nursing a sore pus. Far from the worst of the Class of 2016 but not good enough either.
Tom Hateley – As meh a player as we’ve had in recent times.
Mark O’Hara – The closest thing we had to an unqualified success that summer, the Hunskelper’s status grows in his absence. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. They paved paradise and signed Elton Ngwatala.
Yordi Teijsse – The name that sums that summer up. It’s unfair to be too critical of Yordi as he was clearly playing so far above his natural level it was untrue. Loaned out within six months of arriving before accepting a payoff to walk away early, Yordi was a caricature of a latter-Hartley era signing.
The summer of 2016 was also notable for Dundee’s lengthy pursuit of St Mirren’s Stevie Mallan, with the Dark Blues launching several transfer bids ranging in value from 5p to a bag of magic beans for the midfielder, who eventually went elsewhere.
Marcus Haber, signed a couple of months after the window slammed shut, played a big role in improving results until January when, it was clear that Dundee needed to strengthen. Haber was handed a contract extension that seemed excessive even when he was at the top of his game, while Henrik Ojamaa and Marc Klok joined. Ojamaa wasn’t the player he was a few years earlier with Motherwell. The less said about Klok the better.
Jack Hendry and Glen Kamara were obviously excellent signings while Roarie Deacon, Elliott Parish, A-Jay Leitch-Smith, Scott Allan and Josh Meekings all contributed to varying degrees. Then there were Lewis Spence, Randy Wolters and Sofian Moussa. Who can forget the day Moussa joined? The club’s twitter teasing us with a signing emoji next to a number 9, the ‘It’s Berbatov!!!’ texts from overexcited no-righters, the social media slow-reveal that started off with footage of our new striker’s winkle pickers, the ‘who the fuck?’, followed by the crushing disappointment of checking out his wiki page and YouTube video. Given the paucity of goals since, it’s arguable that McCann’s downfall began that day.
It has often been remarked on forums that no one does January worse than Dundee and on the final day of the mid-season window Dundee somehow managed to exchange Hendry, Allan and Scott Bain for Simon Murray in a deal seemingly put together by The Fast Show’s Billy Bleach. Murray scored a few vital goals between then and the end of the season and Steven Caulker would go some way to filling the Jack Hendry-shaped hole in our defence, but still.
Too soon. The wounds are too raw to discuss outwith the confines of a therapist’s office. It may yet prove to be the worst window since the one Robert Wyatt fell through. Quickly brushing over the players we signed and those we lost, we once again refused to acknowledge the reality of a club’s asking price and several attempts to prise Lawrence Shankland from Ayr’s grasp were doomed to failure.
Every transfer is a gamble to some extent. The Martin Boyle of 2018 is a much improved version of the raw speedfreak we jettisoned back then but no one was likely to name him in their worst ever Dundee XI. The same can’t be said of Harris and Hartley’s trade was a foreshadow of what was to come next.
What is truly frightening is the money Dundee have payed players not to play for us over the past few years. Nicky Loy, Rory Loy, Hateley, Williams, Yordi, Harkins, Wolters, Simon Ferry, Kevin Thomson and Luka Tankulic have all spent extended time on loan or accepted deals to walk away, some of them no doubt pretty lucrative given the length and economic value of their contacts.
Another three – Haber, El Bak and Vincent – continue to cost us money with their loan clubs stumping up only a percentage of their wages. That’s three players Hartley saw fit to hand out three-year deals to struggling to get a game at the wrong end of the Championship while impacting on our budget.
A couple of bad windows is all it takes to turn a comfortable Premiership side into one at the wrong end of the Fundesliga and we’re currently attempting to recover from a run of disastrous-disastrous-average-poor-disastrous ones. Incredibly, some of McCann’s summer recruits have left us pining for the likes of Haber and El Bak. Jim McIntyre faces an unenviable task in January as he needs to empty his squad of as much of the shite he inherited as possible while bringing in several players of a significantly higher quality. From now until the winter break we are firmly in damage limitation mode but as soon as that window opens we need to go about reversing the trend of recent years if we are to have any chance of remaining competitive for the rest of the season.
Last week’s Sportscene was an entertaining affair, and not just because it didn’t feature Dundee losing for once.
Midfielder-turned-contrarian Michael Stewart completely lost his shit over the issue of penalties, the cause of his ire being a spot kick awarded to Rangers, one not awarded to Motherwell, the one St Mirren got against us, and several other claims the Buddies made. One from the latter category in particular had the ex-Hearts man fulminating as he went out of his way to disagree with the more conventional opinions of Jonathan Sutherland and Steven Thompson, a man Mikey is in danger of being smirked to death by.
The soft penalty that Simeon Jackson won for St Mirren is just one of several decisions that Dundee, shite as we’ve been, are justified in bemoaning of late. While Jordan Jones was retrospectively punished for his dive at Dens last month, Mikael Lustig’s keenness to hit the deck has passed with barely any mention, while Sportscene didn’t see fit to show the Dark Blues’ own claim from the St Mirren game, or any of the three from the week before at Motherwell.
The subsequent conspiracies about the West Coast bias of the SPFL/BBS Scotland got me thinking about the penalty masters, misses, decisions and debacles from my time following Dundee.
If football was more like its younger American cousin, Ryan ‘Special Teams’ Conroy might be regarded as an all-time greats. Eleven of Conroy’s 25 goals for Dundee came from the spot, a 100% record (so far as I can remember) that probably (I haven’t fully researched this TBH) makes him our most successful player from 12 yards out since the days of Andy Penman, the Penalty King himself. His record also laughs in the face of claims that left-footed players can’t take penalties.
From safety to where
When Matt Lockwood rocked up at Dens, Google informed us that he was a renowned penalty expert. Cucumber-cool Lockwood duly lived up to this rep before developing the type of yips that Eric Bristow whenever experienced when approaching the oche. Three pens were missed in just a few weeks, the last of which contributed to a Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Kilmarnock.
The only penalty shoot-out to determine the winner (as opposed to the destination of a bonus point) of a Dundee derby took place at Tannadice in September 1995. Neil Duffy turned out for United shortly after crossing to the wrong end of the street, but it was 38-year-old Billy Thomson and 34-year-old Iain Ferguson who put one over their old club while defying the curfew set by their nursing home. Thomson saved spot kicks from Gary McSwegan and Owen Coyle while Ferguson, who had been brought on in the dying seconds purely to take a penalty, put the ball past Ally Maxwell with his only touch of the evening. Dundee were through to a League Cup quarter final against Aberdeen and Fergie was allowed out the ‘Judas Bastard’ corner.
Satellite of Love
It seems strange now when games are shifted all the time to suit the dozens of companies who own the rights to broadcast Scottish football, but Dundee’s first home game to be screened live didn’t take place until 1992. The occasion was a Scottish Cup 4th round reply and Falkirk were the visitors. Bairns defenders Crawford Baptie and Forbes Johnston repeatedly assaulted Billy Dodds in the box only for referee David Syme to wave play on each time. Oh, and Falkirk scored the only goal right at the start of a 2nd half that kicked off so early that Sky were still on their ad break when the ball hit the net.
Last Night a DJ GK Saved My Life
Confess your guilty Scottish football secret. Mine is that I would have welcomed Dougie Imrie to Dundee many times over the years, despite his growing role of pantomime villain following a fracas or two with our players, management and supporters. He was always a thorn in our side in a footballing sense as well so when he stepped up to take an 87th minute penalty that would have left Dundee in serious relegation trouble at the tail-end of last season we all feared the worst. But his penalty was shite! Parish saved, Dundee were as good as safe and the Derry went wild.
Death or Glory
Billy Dodds again. A relegation battle again. Despite boasting a strike force of Dodds and Keith Wright, Dundee sat five points behind 2nd bottom St Mirren when the Buddies visited Dens with just four games of 1989/90 remaining. The League-winning side were brought out before the game to rally the crowd and Dundee came roaring out of the blocks with Alan Campbell opening the scoring in the first minute and the Dark Blues being awarded a penalty shortly afterwards. Dodds, who had already converted three spot kicks that season, stepped up but failed to make it 2-0. A young George Shaw equalised for St Mirren and a 2nd half winner meant we were absolutely fucked.
You Trip Me Up
The sound of Dumbarton players and the small band of travelling supporters screaming for a penalty was drowned out by 10,000 sharp intakes of breath. Hamilton were beating Morton 10-2, cancelling out our seemingly unassailable advantage in goal difference, so a Dumbarton equaliser would leave Dundee broken. Kyle Benedictus brought down Sons striker Chris Kane and the whole stadium turned to referee Bobby Madden. The blind bastard waved play on! We somehow saw out the remainder of the game and the Fundesliga title was ours.
This Is How It Feels To Be Lonely
If you have the chance to stretch your lead at the top of the league by pulling out all the stops to ensure your game against the bottom side goes ahead while your rivals sit idle you take it, don’t you? Well, in hindsight we wouldn’t. After switching the New Year 2010 fixture from a frozen New Broomfield to Dens, Dundee managed to reach peak Dundee by losing a game we couldn’t lose. Leigh Griffiths missed a 1st half penalty before Airdrie scored one of their own and Gary MacKenzie was sent off. By the time a game that should have taken place at Dens was played at Airdrie, our form was all over the place. We lost 3-0, Jocky Scott was sacked, Gordon Chisholm failed to arrest our decline, Inverness won the league with games to spare and Dundee were in administration within months.
Look Back In Anger
That you don’t get penalties against Rangers is a truth universally known. Except that you very occasionally do, and, in these circumstances, you have to make the most of such opportunities. What you don’t do is miss two in the same game. Which is what Juan Sara did in a match completely dominated by Dundee yet won by Rangers when Bert fucking Konterman scored the only goal of the game.
Eddie’s My Name
The same glitch in the matrix that results in two penalties being awarded against Rangers in the same game can also throw up last-minute spot kicks against Celtic. 1998/99 started slowly for Dundee (though in relative terms it was an Andy Kiwomya to this year’s Jim Lauchlan) with league defeats to Aberdeen, Dunfermline and St Johnstone as well as a League Cup humiliation at home to Alloa. What you don’t want in such circumstances is to be playing the champions next but a spirited performance against Celtic was eventually rewarded in the 90th minute. Having turned a blind eye to Stephane Mahe booting Brian Irvine in the pus in the box, the ref was perhaps feeling guilty when bald-as-a-coote Enrico Annoni, jealous of Eddie Annand’s blonde streaks, tripped the striker on the 18-yard line. Following a run-up that seemed to start at the Myrekirk Circle, Fast Eddie sent the resulting penalty into the net to claim a point for the Dark Blues. A season that would eventually see us finish 5th was finally up and running.
Of course, even when good fortune presents itself in the form of a free shot at goal from 12 yards out, you have to make the most of it. The fact we’ve been awarded two penalties this season and failed to score either aptly sums up our lack of goal threat. Given the way the season has gone subsequently, the likely two-horse race for 11th place and the fate of the man who brought him to the club, Sofian Moussa’s opening day miss at Paisley might yet prove as costly as any duffed penalty we’ve seen yet.
In a desperate bid to get the goals flowing might just be time to lobby FIFA to introduce specialist penalty takers and launch an audacious bid to bring Ryan Conroy back from Airdrie in January.
Gary and Danny sit down to rake over the coals of the Motherwell game, look at McIntyre’s emerging preferences, discuss a few of our long-service players and then make a plea ahead of the St Mirren game.
Dundee supremo John Nelms’ money-making schemes for the club have extended to an expensive, football-themed Hallowe’en House of Horrors against Celtic, he has confirmed.
The happy coincidence of playing perennial champions and professional conspiracy theorists Celtic Football Club on a winter’s evening famed for providing terror and manipulating our primordial fears and charging £30 for the privilege was “too good an opportunity to miss”, according to Nelms, who insisted on dressing like an undead circus ringleader while addressing local media.
“TREMBLE as you realise Calvin Miller cannot play as a Celtic loanee! SCREAM as our midfield get caught in possession and are robbed by James Forrest! WAIL when Jack Hamilton’s hands turn into flippers as he drops one on the head of Boyata! RAGE as Scott Bain gives a sly finger to the Derry! COWER IN FEAR AS SOFIEN MOUSSA AND KENNY MILLER START!” boomed the Texan.
“Although everything points to a defeat of nightmareish proportions for Dundee, there is some cause for hope”, claims Glen Dingies of the Institute of Futba Studies. “Anybody who’s heard Cammy Kerr’s screams knows he’s a banshee, Kallman orders his steaks blue and is blond so could be a vampire, and if perma-raging Paul McGowan isn’t a werewolf then I’m a cocktail brolly. That and Celtic’s obsession to the point of distraction with zombies could give Dundee an edge.
“Things probably should’ve been stopped before Jim McIntyre was convinced that Jesse Curran and Lewis Spence were winged monkeys capable of flying from the stands, though. Poor lads are out until January.”
Gary, Grant and Danny are back to dissect the “performance” against Hearts, debate how much time McIntyre will need to sort out the squad, and touch on the now-defunct debate on whether to Dodds or not to Dodds.
Billy Dodds went some way to filling a Tommy Coyne-sized hole in my life before he too left us, ensuring I was au fait with heartbreak at a young age. This would prepare me well for the jiltings that would follow from then until my wife decided I was at least tolerable a decade and a half later.
Dodds was sold to St Johnstone not long after my 14th birthday and, to deploy a metaphor relevant to the time, it was worse than being asked to hand out textbooks just after the appearance of an uninvited classroom bricker. But the pain then was nothing compared to the cat-kicking anger of him signing for United four years later.
Sunday 22 November 1998 may henceforth have been known as James Grady Day, but in the run-up to the match all anyone was talking about was that Dodds would be facing Dundee for the first time since signing for United. In the end, things could hardly have gone better, with the pantomime villain having a perfectly good goal chalked off early before Grady’s wonder strike earned him a place in Derry folklore.
‘Dodds had nothing to do with an imminent financial implosion forcing his departure from Dens any more than he had with Alex Miller’s desire to throw him and three-quarters of a million quid at United in order to get his hands on subbie keeper Robbie Winters’, say our heads. ‘Fucking booooooo! Get that right fucking up ya, ya fucking wee prick’, say our hearts.
Down in the Sewer
Despite their sense of betrayal, most Dundee supporters welcomed Billy Dodds back from the Dark Side as Anakin Skywalker rather than Darth Vader when Gordon Chisholm wanted him as his assistant. This, as we all know, did not end well.
What is undeniable is that both were shafted as promises made to entice them to leave secure jobs were quickly unravelled. Admin II: Admin Harder is a blight on our club to this day and the management team had every right to feel bitter about their treatment. But their subsequent decision to vote against the CVA that would take the club out of administration, a decision that increased the chances of a rebranding as The Dundee, saw sympathy for the pair amongst the fanbase instantly evaporate.
Those close to Chisholm and Dodds are adamant that they had no desire to bring about liquidation. They say the decision was based on their frustration not just at their sacking but at what they saw as a lower settlement being offered to creditors than was necessary. Calum Melville’s largesse being counted as loans and future rent owed to John Bennett being included in the total debt figure, therefore increasing the sum owed to a friendly creditor, rankled as well. Chisholm and Dodds, they insist, were lashing out at administrator Bryan Jackson and certain individuals on the board rather than the club or its fans, and would not have opposed the CVA if they didn’t believe the vote was already a formality.
Whether or not the result was actually ever in doubt has become a moot point in amongst the mythology of the time. Right up until the results were announced, Jackson was warning the vote was on a knife-edge and certainly few fans or employees were anything other than sick with nerves on the morning of the plebiscite.
Relief at the CVA passing quickly turned to anger when the administrator – in a breach of protocol – announced the names of the creditors in the No camp. It was a time of siege mentality when you were part of the problem if you weren’t part of the solution.
Whatever Chisholm and Dodds’ motivation actually was and regardless of the anger they felt at the ballot suddenly not becoming secret, the narrative was set. To fans, they had voted to kill the club and to staff, many of whom are still at the club, they had tried to vote them onto the dole.
Grudges are passed down the generations in football so this week’s events are staggering in so many ways. Perception is often more important than reality. Justifiably or not, Billy Dodds is toxic amongst the Dundee support. It is astonishing that he could have thought being linked with the assistant manager post once again would have met with anything other than widespread animosity. It is worrying that Dundee’s powers-that-be could have been so ignorant to the level of bad feeling this would generate at a time when we need everyone connected with the club pulling together under new manager Jim McIntyre.
Golden (Bomber) Brown
As my mate texted me this morning, boyhood heroes are falling all over the place. Dodds voting against the CVA has been dragged out into the public once again followed Neil McCann being sacked with one of the worst records of any Dundee manager. My pal now expects Tommy Coyne and Keith Wright to be outed as kingpins in a human trafficking ring and George Shaw to stand for election as a Tory.
In recent years, Sir Barry Smith and Bomber were other legends to have their relationship with the club strained by taking on the manager’s job. Even Grady joined the likes of Redford, Ferguson, Wilkie and co in the tainted corner, though he swiftly earned redemption by saying how much he hated life at Tannadice and what a mistake it was to go there.
Heroes might be an inevitable side-effect of being a football fan, but we could probably do with remembering that they may well prove to have feet of clay. However, football people – players, managers, pundits, directors and others – could do with putting their fan’s hat on from time to time to consider why a particular decision might be so unpalatable for the people who pay their wages.