ALTHOUGH the idiosyncratic arrangement of two football grounds sharing the same street existed in Dundee for some years prior, today marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tannadice Park, home of Dundee United and notably close companion of Dundee's Dens Park.
The grounds are the nearest pair of senior football stadiums in Britain, and only Budapest hosts two that invade each other's personal space to a more intrusive degree than the 200 yards which separates the tangerine side of the road to the dark blue one.
The clubs might inhabit different post-codes, but no visitor to the north of the city can be fooled into thinking they do not share what is essentially the same street. Tannadice Street runs into Sandeman Street, where Dundee FC have dwelled since the end of the 19th Century. Although Dundee United are the newest residents, the ground occupied by the club pre-dates even Dens Park, where Dundee moved from Carolina Port in 1899. Clepington Park was opened in the early 1880s, but United – or Dundee Hibernian, as they were then known – took over the lease in May 1909, re-christening the ground as 'Tannadice Park' with a match against Hibernian a century ago today.
Tannadice entered into the lexicon of Scottish football, and provided an instantly recognisable backdrop as United made their name in Europe in 1980s. One hapless English commentator did, however, manage to get confused about the pronunciation, with Tannadice becoming 'Tannadichi' during a memorable report. But given exposure, too, were the huge TSB advertising boards in the corners. Singer-songwriter Michael Marra also name-checked the Taylor Brothers Coal advert which remained for some time at Tannadice in a song called Hamish the Goalie. With the reference, he identified where Grace Kelly, surely Tannadice's most glamorous visitor, was sitting when she accompanied her husband, Prince Rainier of Monaco, at a Uefa Cup tie between United and AS Monaco in 1981-82.
Just as resonant is the old Shed end, which was opened in 1957 on the back of income derived from the innovative Taypools concept and became the gathering place for home fans. Later renovations saw the home end switch to the east stand, which sits in front of the allotments at the back of Tannadice. It was re-named the Eddie Thompson stand last year in recognition of the then ailing chairman's contribution to the club. "As modern stadiums go, it is probably not what you would want to start off with," acknowledged director Derek Robertson yesterday. "There is not enough office space, and hospitality space. But there are a lot of great memories, and tradition attached to the place."
Celtic and Dundee had been briefly been considered as possible opponents for the inauguration, but both were then deemed too strong for a side which featured a hastily-cobbled together selection of players drawn from other clubs in the area, including Brechin City and Forfar. Hibs were considered less dangerous. Although the Edinburgh side had won the Scottish Cup seven years earlier, they were then a middle-of-the-league outfit. The added attractions were the obvious ones of name and background. Like the hosts, Hibs had been formed to reflect the growing number of Irish immigrants arriving in Scottish cities.
The game, watched by a crowd of 7,000, finished all-square, which satisfied everyone. Guests included the Lord Provost of Dundee, who, according to the Courier, gave Dundee Hibs centre-forward John Docherty "a neat pass" at the kick-off. Docherty later equalised for the home side, and as the scorer of the club's first goal, was given a gold medal. Hibs' John O'Hara had his earlier goal – the first officially scored at Tannadice – marked by the gift of a bicycle, donated by Dundee Hibs manager/secretary Pat Reilly, who was also a local bicycle trader.
Also invited to the match were Dundee FC officials, who were thought to have been tickled by the thought of a smaller club trying to encroach on their patch. Few could then imagine the sea-change which, by the late Seventies, saw Dundee United not only emerge as the dominant club in the city, but begin attracting bigger crowds to Tannadice. Dundee later objected to Dundee Hibs' first proposed name change to Dundee City, but had took no apparent exception to the choice of Dundee United, which became ratified in 1923.
Dundee United continued to play on at Tannadice Park, although the stadium has undergone a number of changes. For a spell it was a curiously misshapen affair, with the main stand, now named after legendary manager Jerry Kerr, a distinguishing feature. It was the first cantilevered stand in Scotland when opened in 1962. It is notable for its L-shaped construction, and knee-breakingly tight seating arrangement. Indeed, the whole stadium is neatly packaged and although boasting a greater capacity to Dens Park, occupies a much smaller footprint than the home of neighbours Dundee. Whenever talk of amalgamation rears its head, Dens Park is often mooted as the new club's likely venue, on account of its greater scope for renovation.
But Tannadice would be a loss, as would the novelty of having two football grounds in a single, storied street.
Alba Challenge Cup Second round
Annan v East Stirlingshire
These sides meet for a second time in four days after East Stirling's 1-0 success at Galabank.
Annan have signed goalkeeper Greg Kelly. The former Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Montrose shot-stopper looks likely to make his debut tonight, while
East Stirling welcome back Jamie Stevenson after a one-game ban.
Cowdenbeath v Dundee
Cowdenbeath welcome back the suspended trio of Jay Shields, Kenny Adamson and Dene Droudge. The Blue Brazil can also include goalkeeper David Hay, sent off at Brechin. Mark Ramsey and Danny McKay are ruled out through injury.
Dundee look set to be without the injured Rab Douglas, Craig McKeown, Darren Young and Pat Clarke, with Sean Higgins banned.
Dunfermline v Queen of South
Dunfermline could hand defender Andy Dowie a start. Fellow defender Neil McGregor is suspended.
The Palmerston men look set to be without defenders Craig Barr and Craig Reid through injury with wide man Barry Wilson another doubt.
Elgin v Albion Rovers
Elgin look set to be without injured defenders David Niven and Allan Dempsie while injured Albion Rovers defender Todd Lumsden and midfielder Ciaran Donnelly are both expected to miss out, with goalkeeper Jamie Ewings in line for a recall if he passes a fitness test.
Forfar v Partick Thistle
Forfar manager Dick Campbell may look to restore Chris Templeman to his starting line-up as he promises to attack.
Thistle will be missing banned midfielder Stephen McKeown.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Stranraer
Ross Tokely is available for Inverness, with Canadian defender Richard Hastings also in the hunt following injury. Dougie Imrie and fellow front men Andy Barrowman and Eric Odhiambo are out.
Stranraer defender Steven Noble is banned and midfielder Barry Donald is out injured.
Ross County v Morton
Last year's beaten finalists County will be without defender Gary Miller, who was red-carded at Firhill, and Stuart Golabek and strikers Steven Craig and Martyn Scott are doubtful.
Morton have three goalkeepers out injured, with youngster Ryan McWilliams standing by again.
Stirling Albion v Stenhousemuir
Stirling manager Allan Moore looks set to give a starting jersey to teenage defender Craig Young with Andy Graham being rested. In midfield, David O'Brien is cup-tied and Nathan Taggart misses out through injury.