THE last time Dundee achieved promotion to the top flight it was through the side door after another club’s meltdown. The dramatic elevation was confirmed more than two months after the previous season ended.
Dundee 2-1 Dumbarton
Scorers: Dundee - Nade (25), MacDonald (36); Dumbarton - Agnew (69 pen)
Many of the fans would have been on holiday, some would have thought it a hollow victory, and absolutely no-one got to party.
On Saturday the Dark Blues decided to make up for this. Today is the 28th anniversary of The Albert Kidd Game, they told the sellout crowd. You’ll remember how that one finished: eight of the maddest final minutes in the history of our club. Well, we’re going to end this one with eight which are even madder.
Don’t worry, there will be a chopper-despatched trophy, confetti cannons and a lap of honour by our boys, but before then Dens Park will quake with tension, fear and impotence. We will put you through the wringer. No, we will put you through Maw Broon’s mangle.
The Albert Kidd Game, of course, was Dundee denying Hearts the Premier League title thanks to two goals by Tayside’s biggest Bobby Ball impersonator. When everyone had calmed down, the Dark Blues learned they hadn’t quite done enough to secure European football for themselves.
News travels faster in 2014 so on Saturday – Helicopter Saturday – many in the old Archibald Leitch stand were bang up to date with the fast-unfolding super-drama at New Douglas Park: 6-1, 7-1, 7-2. Phones previously used for happy snaps were seeing to that. 8-2, 9-2. The phones turned into calculators to confirm that if Dundee were to end up drawing with Dumbarton, and there seemed every jittery chance of that, then Hamilton Accies still needed one more goal to nick the Championship. Then, in the very back row of this wonderful construction, radio-man Chick Young posed this question for his listeners: “Do helicopters have a reverse gear?” He was heard by those Dee fans in front of him, who looked at each other in silent dread. Then: 10-2!
Well, the ’copter didn’t have to divert to the Hamilton Transworld Helipad, far less the Falkirk Panglobal Landing Strip. Afterwards those same Dens supporters, once they had celebrated the title, caught their breath and agreed this bogglingly bonkers afternoon would never be forgotten, saw some innate logic to it. “It’s aye the Dundee way,” one of them remarked. Well, the Hamilton way was crucial to the plot and let’s not forget the Morton way, whatever that was.
After Dundee chief executive Scott Gardiner had had a wee lie down, which took even longer, he described the scoreline from deepest Lanarkshire as “ridiculous”. In fact, he used the word ridiculous four times in ten seconds. “It’s bizarre,” he said. “There’s no-one in the game can’t think that’s bizarre and I’m laughing when I’m saying this but it wouldn’t have been laughable if Dumbarton had scored.” Did the result merit further scrutiny? “People are going to ask questions. They’re going to ask: ‘How did they get a score like that?’
“We knew how that game was going. Kevin McBride told me afterwards that one of the Dumbarton players said to him: ‘Do you know it’s 7-1?’ Their bench was telling their team. Kevin told this guy to f**k off.
“We knew every goal that was going in although we didn’t know there had been OGs.
“The last few minutes were terrifying. Kyle Letheren pulls off an absolute Gordon Banks of a save. That looked a goal all the way. If he doesn’t do that we’d have lost the league to a pub score. That’s all you could call it. I mean, if that had happened in South America…
“But listen it doesn’t matter now. At the end, to see people in tears of joy, that was phenomenal. The staff have worked under two administrations. The fans have supported us under two administrations. Now we’re going back up better prepared. We could have sold 6000 more tickets for this and I’m sure a day like today has re-ignited people’s passions for Dundee.”
Christian Nade and Peter MacDonald, both with headers, scored the goals that brought delirium to Dens and make no mistake it was a thrill to be present for the Dark Blues’ extraordinary afternoon, from the lusty pre-match rendition of Up Wi’ the Bonnets to the stadium DJ’s determination to spin every blue-referencing song by the end.
But Dumbarton made a game of it, Scott Agnew scoring a penalty, and they should have had another when Dundee were panicking and Kyle Benedictus clattered Chris Kane. Sons manager Ian Murray was livid: “Full house, Dundee winning the league, make up your own mind – but for me it’s a stonewaller.”
There were incidental storylines everywhere. One involved two of Scottish football’s great, misunderstood, put-upon strikers, Nade and Colin Nish, trying to outdo each other for delicate touches. Nish’s lob-shot which struck the bar was his best moment.
Nade responded by standing on the ball then flexing his gluteus maximus to repel all boarders until his goal came along.
Another involved the two benches and some bad blood from a previous game. At the final whistle, Dundee manager Paul Hartley clenched his fist, a gesture you’d have to term get-it-right-up-you.
“I was angry with the last comments they made, that they were ‘leagues apart’,” he explained. “Well, we are now. We’re in the Premiership, they’re in the Championship.”
Hartley was also astonished by the Accies result, saying it wouldn’t even be found in amateur football. “If you’re a professional team you don’t lose 10-2, but we did the business.” Indeed Dundee did.
At the end it was up wi’ the bonnets, off wi’ the replica shirts, and on to the pitch in their thousands. The public address pleaded for the park to be cleared, otherwise the trophy couldn’t be delivered, but in reality the chopper must have had some ground to make up, having briefly flirted with Hamilton airspace.
BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon
THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.
The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.
• Email your Scottish football question for the BT Sport panel to answer. The next show will be recorded on May 7 after St Johnstone v Celtic, which will also be shown live on BT Sport, with the video available on The Scotsman website the following day. You can also tweet us @TheScotsman.
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