Bobby Geddes enjoys cameo as career spans fifth decade

HE made his debut for Dundee in September 1979 and enjoyed his testimonial match ten years later against a vintage Liverpool side. Even then Bobby Geddes still had distance left to run in a senior career which finally wound down ten years ago at Brechin City.

Except it didn't, as anyone who witnessed the extraordinary sight of the 49-year-old Geddes ensuring that his career spanned a fifth decade with a substitute's appearance for Dundee against Raith Rovers on Wednesday night knows. The veteran goalkeeper had his own worst fears confirmed when he was thrust into action in Kirkcaldy. But he picked up Dundee's man of the match award after a brave personal performance in an otherwise undistinguished 1-0 defeat.

There can't be another player in British football whose appearances for the same club span 30 years. What is known is that Geddes, who turns 50 in August and attributes his longevity to a diet of "chocolate and crisps", is now the oldest player to appear in a league fixture for Dundee. There is, then, at least someone with something to boast about at Dens Park following a depressing conclusion to the season. Wednesday's defeat condemned Dundee to another year of First Division football.

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Geddes returned to his goalkeeper coaching duties yesterday after making his first Dundee appearance since conceding three times in a draw with St Mirren at Dens Park in December 1989. Gordon Chisholm was in front of him at centre-half on that occasion, as was Stewart Forsyth. Illustrating the march of time is the fact Forsyth's 21 year-old son, Craig, joined Geddes in the Dundee side in midweek. Chisholm, of course, is now manager.

Geddes replaced Tony Bullock after half an hour on Wednesday and quickly got to grips with his task. "You just have to get on with it," he said yesterday.

He had been memorably described as "cowering in the back of the dug-out" when listed as substitute against Forfar Athletic in the Co-Operative Insurance Cup earlier this season. But there was no place to hide when Bullock pulled up with a hamstring strain, and with other Dundee goalkeepers Rab Douglas and Derek Soutar already ruled out due to injury and illness.

"I got a great reception from both sets of fans. A lot of it was in jest. I played for Raith as well so they were welcoming.

"I enjoyed it at the end – once it was all over," he added.

The goalkeeper situation, he revealed, is the "same as it was yesterday", which means Geddes could be in line for at least a place on the bench this weekend, against Raith Rovers again. Douglas has had a knee operation and is out for the season, while Bullock and Soutar remain doubts.

"If any of them had turned up fully fit this morning I think I would have been pretty disappointed," said Geddes. "It would mean I had been put through all that trauma for nothing."

"Times have changed," he added. "I used to chap on the manager's door when I was not playing. Now it would be a case of chapping on it if I was down to play this weekend."