A late change in circumstances has led to alterations to the seating plan at the football club event. Not only will there be a spare place where Jim McIntyre was meant to sit, Alan Rough is a belated addition as main after-dinner speaker since former Dundee and Hibs striker Tam McManus sent his apologies.
Davidson was presumably ruled out after his rant on Twitter about the Whitehall Theatre’s failure to publicise his rearranged gig to his satisfaction – “no wonder it went skint,” the comedian wrote. In any case, Dundee’s season has already been enough of a bad joke.
But the point is the dinner going ahead at all after Dundee’s plight had placed the night in jeopardy. It is still unlikely to go down in local legend when it comes to frivolous entertainment given the context. It brings the curtain down on one of the club’s worst-ever seasons. However, Dundee do appear to be attempting to reconnect with their supporters after a dismaying few months.
The news that emerged on Sunday was the biggest sign of this intention. McIntyre was relieved of his duties after seven unhappy months. The club are now inviting applicants for the manager’s position with managing director John Nelms expected to apply his criteria for selecting a manager, as outlined earlier this month, when sifting through candidates.
This preference for a manager who has at least 300 matches under his belt makes it unlikely Kenny Miller will be considered.
James McPake, the popular head of professional programme, has been handed the first-team reins for this weekend’s final fixture against St Mirren and is set to introduce younger players.
Despite the team being already relegated, teenagers Max Anderson and Callum Moore were unused substitutes in last weekend’s win over Livingston, which proved the last of McIntyre’s 31 games in charge. There were only four victories, including Saturday’s essentially meaningless one.
Players had already begun to drift off. Goalkeeper Elliot Parish and midfielder Andreas Hadenius left the club a few days earlier with their own presumably bitter stories of too few opportunities. Hadenius is a baffling case: signed on loan from Halmstad BK in the last transfer window along with a raft of others, he played only three matches and never finished on a losing side. He last featured in a 2-1 win over Livingston in February.
It seems Nelms was minded to lend his backing to McIntyre but slow season-ticket sales to date – the number is understood to be around the 500 mark, when the uptake was over 2400 this time last year – effectively sealed the manager’s fate.
Fan power could not be ignored. Feelings were made clear in the closing moments of the 1-0 defeat by Hamilton Accies ten days ago. Supporters sang “ten in a row, he has to go” as Dundee slid to a dismal tenth successive defeat.
At the end they changed the tune to a more offensive ditty referencing McIntyre’s previous ties to Dundee United. It seemed inevitable then that he would have to leave if only to stem the disenchantment apparent within the fan base and which also led to tickets being handed back for Sunday night’s do, which is organised by the Dundee Supporters’ Association.
Something else might have troubled Nelms. It is understood Cammy Kerr, the likeable right-back who has supported Dundee since boyhood and has even lent his name to a community coaching project run by the Dundee FC Community Trust, learned he was not getting a new contract and was free to leave.
Kerr is not the best right-back the club have ever had, but then everyone who has attempted to follow title hero Alex Hamilton in this position has suffered by comparison. Kerr may not even be a right-back. He excelled in a midfield holding role against Hamilton before he was switched back to his usual position as Dundee’s need for a goal that never came became more urgent.
But he is more than capable of holding his own in the Championship and there is even a school of thought that he should lead the team out there as skipper. But as long as McIntyre was in place, this was not going to happen. He considered him dispensable. Kerr would have at best played one more game on Saturday against St Mirren before collecting his personal belongings from a locker and exiting Dens Park – as a player at least. There is no way anyone could stop him leaving his heart at the club.
His tears at the final whistle against Hamilton after relegation had been confirmed were not those of a crocodile crier – the type we see so often at this stage of the season. They were the tears of someone who had lived the dream and who now feared this dream was ending. The chances of a new contract under McIntyre were remote to non-existent. It is now understood he can expect a reprieve.
But it is about more than the future of one player, popular though he is. It is about the future of a club and creating the mood where moving forward is possible without the attendant issue of a manager whose presence is splitting the support and creating uncertainty among staff.
Jim McIntyre was at the club yesterday morning to collect his own belongings. There were no long farewells, no tears goodbye. There was no reprieve.