Roarie Deacon could scarcely believe Dens Park and Tannadice existed just yards from each other – and insists their closeness is what makes today’s derby clash so special.
The 25-year-old Englishman, who moved to Dens in the summer from English outfit Sutton United, was bowled over to discover nearby Tannadice was only a short walk from Dens Park on his arrival in Scotland recently.
Deacon, who is set for a key role in the televised Betfred Group C clash this afternoon, concedes he wasn’t aware just how close the old rivals were and reckons the unique set-up within the City of Discovery gives the fixture that added spice.
“When I first came to sign, I pulled up to our stadium and I just looked down to the other stadium,” recalled Deacon. “I thought ‘what stadium is that down the road?
“I had no idea and then obviously realised that was United’s stadium down the road.
“You can basically kick a ball from one stadium to the other. That proximity just brings the rivalry even more to the table. It’s so close and just so intense.
“This will be the biggest I’ve actually played in.
“I’ve been in involved in derbies growing up like Arsenal v Tottenham but it’s not as intense as a proper first-team derby like this one.”
Dundee manager Neil McCann has urged his side to play with a swagger against their Championship opponents and former Arsenal and Sunderland attacker Deacon insists they’ll do just that.
“Of course, we’re confident. We’re the Premiership team,” said Deacon. “They’re coming to our ground so coming to us they should fear us. We don’t want to lose here. We know what we need to do.
“We should have the swagger being the Premiership team and they’re in the league below us in the Championship.
“It should be a tight game because of what’s at stake but we’re the better team.
“It’s all about the result. I think the gaffer just wants us to go and win the game convincingly against our local rivals.
“They’ve been our rivals for years. It’s a massive rivalry.
“Talking to team-mates and staff members since I came to the club recently, it clearly means a lot and you don’t want to be walking in the town on the Monday after the game with the fans not happy because we’ve lost the game.”
Deacon tasted the build-up to the North-East derby between Sunderland and Newcastle in England and believes today’s Tayside tussle means just as much to those involved.
“The Sunderland v Newcastle one is one you want to be involved in,” Deacon added.
“I was in and around squads for that building up to those games. It was unbelievable, the intensity of the training going into that one.
“In the North-East, you can’t afford to lose that game.
“At Sunderland, you just don’t want to do that. I know what rivalry is all about and this is another big one.”