Obituary: Derek Walker Robertson, Dundee United director and fan

Banker and Dundee United director, and fan. Picture: SNS
Banker and Dundee United director, and fan. Picture: SNS
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Born, Dundee: 17 July, 1952. Died, Dunfermline: 28 March, 2016, aged 63.

The death, after a short battle against cancer, of former Dundee United director Derek Robertson, has touched his many friends, well beyond Tannadice.

He had stepped down from the United board in the New Year, shortly after receiving the devastating diagnosis of his illness, having, in his 13 years at Tannadice, earned the respect of fellow directors and everyone at the club, officials from other clubs and supporters ofUnited, and other Scottish clubs.

Derek Robertson was a Dundee boy. He attended Harris Academy in the city, going from school straight into a job with the Royal Bank of Scotland, where he was to remain, rising to a senior management position, before taking early retirement.

This enabled him to devote more time to the club he had followed since boyhood, and, when his friend and fellow supporter Eddie Thompson decided to purchase the club, one of his first acts was to get Derek Robertson on board. He valued Derek’s unimpeachable integrity, and his financial acumen. Derek was appointed finance director, a role he carried-out, entirely unpaid, for many years.

Throughout his decade and more on the board, Derek was the conduit between the boardroom and the fans. They acknowledged they had one of their own in the corridors of power at Tannadice. Every “Arab” respected Derek, but, this did not save him from the occasional blast from an upset supporter. However, the United fans’ forums have, since his untimely passing, highlighted the respect in which he was held. One United fan, posting online, went as far as to say: “Derek was the only man on that board with an ounce of integrity”. His passing was also mourned by many associated with what he called “the team up the road” – Dundee FC. His support for the ordinary fan, and his aspirations, saw Derek become one of the movers and shakers in Supporters Direct Scotland, the body which aims to help ordinary supporters gain influence and invest in Scotland’s football clubs and spread fan ownership.

Away from football, Derek lived quietly in Dunfermline with Sheila, his wife of more than 45-years. Neighbour speak of “a wonderful neighbour”. He was a devoted dad to daughters Lyn and Caryn and to grand-children Ethan and Lauryn, enjoying family holidays abroad. At home, his favourite form of exercise was walking the family dog.

Derek and Sheila were devotees of 1960s and 1970 pop music, particularly the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones. Indeed, in recalling his neighbour in Dunfermline, the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan, spoke in awe of the Robertson’s encyclopaedic knowledge of sixties and seventies pop being demonstrated at one party in the street.

His years of devotion to United were marked when Derek was inducted into the Dundee United Hall of Fame and his family has asked that anyone attending his funeral, in Dundee Crematorium, at 11am on Tuesday, 5 April, should wear a flash of tangerine, to mark his love of the club.