Dundee’s greatest XI loses goalkeeper; Pat Liney, title-winner and honorary club president, dies aged 86

Forever listed first in the greatest team sheet in the club’s history. This is Pat Liney’s legacy as the goalkeeper in Dundee’s Scottish title-winning side of 1961-62.

Pat Liney (right) with another former Dundee goalkeeper Robert Douglas at half-time against Kilmarnock in 2013
Pat Liney (right) with another former Dundee goalkeeper Robert Douglas at half-time against Kilmarnock in 2013

In some ways, Liney, who has died aged 86, might be less well remembered by the wider football public on account of his absence from the Dens Park side’s thrilling run to the European Cup semi-final the following season.

He was replaced by Bert Slater, who manager Bob Shankly signed from brother Bill’s Liverpool. It was a surprising and controversial decision which took Liney, and his teammates, by surprise. “It was very hard on him,” recalls teammate Ian Ure.

After that, Liney’s departure from Dundee, for whom he made his debut against Rangers in a 1-0 win at Ibrox in 1958, was only a matter of time.

In the foreword to Dundee Greats by Jim Hendry, Craig Brown notes that the selection only includes ten players – and no goalkeeper. Brown continues: “It is safe to say that with the 10 outfield players comprising a team in Dark Blue there would be no need for a goalkeeper!”

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Good though they were, Dundee’s title-winning team 60 years ago most definitely needed a goalkeeper. Indeed, whatever Shankly’s misgivings, Liney played a pivotal part. No more so than on the penultimate day of the season, when Dundee trailed leaders Rangers by a point.

With the Ibrox side trailing at Pittodrie, and Dundee 1-0 up v St Mirren, the season hinged on a late penalty award for the visitors at Dens Park. Liney – a St Mirren fan in his youth who left Dundee for the Buddies - was the beneficiary of some priceless Paisley intelligence.

He recalled his father telling him where Jim Clunie preferred to place his penalties before a cup tie earlier in the season. Liney preserved Dundee’s lead with a save to his left.

Andy Penman scored a second for good measure and Aberdeen held on against Rangers. The title was in Dundee’s hands. They made no mistake with a 3-0 win at St Johnstone seven days later.

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Liney made only one more appearance for Dundee. The manner of his exit did not stop him later agreeing to become honorary club president. He made a timely first visit to Dens Park since before the pandemic for the Championship clash against Partick Thistle two weekends ago.

Ure, who played in front of Scotland international Bob Wilson at Arsenal, describes Liney as the best shot stopper he played with. “The number of times he got us out of a mess in the title year - point blank saves all over the place,” the former centre half, now 82, recalls.

Liney is also fondly remembered by supporters of Bradford City, where he made 166 appearances in between spells at Bradford Park Avenue. But his greatest distinction came at Dens Park. The famous XI is being gradually whittled down.

Six years ago the balance tipped the wrong way. After Alan Cousin’s death in 2016, five members of the team remained. Now, following the passing of Alan Gilzean and Bobby Wishart, only Ure and Bob Seith, who had his right leg amputated two years ago, are left.

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Two's company they say. Never more so than in the case of the surviving members of such a fabulous team.

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