Jocky Scott remembers Dundee 1973 League Cup win

Jocky Scott travels back 40 years to celebrate his footballing journey. Picture: Neil Hanna
Jocky Scott travels back 40 years to celebrate his footballing journey. Picture: Neil Hanna
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The sight of a diffident Jocky Scott asking Alan Gilzean for his autograph at the club’s 120th anniversary dinner a fortnight ago was the sort of extreme visual stimulation that prompted one Dundee supporter present to describe the snapshot as football pornography.

They are icons of two different eras, although interestingly, Scott first impressed Dundee in the same 1964 trial match where Gilzean made a Dundee comeback after a spell spent in contract dispute with the club.

Scott straddles both eras but most people associate him with the Seventies, and not only because the look that he tended to favour at the time – Zapata moustache, long sideburns – represents the decade so dynamically. “It maybe looks ridiculous that an old man is asking an older man for his signature,” Scott smiles. “But the whole lot of them were such good players for Dundee. My first games at Dundee were with Bobby Wishart, Bobby Seith and Alan Gilzean and Alan Cousin.”

Tomorrow night Scott will be one of those being asked for autographs – perhaps across an inside page of his new book, Jocky’s Journey, written in conjunction with Peter Caproni and Norrie Price – as he and team-mates from the Dundee League Cup winning side of 1973 gather at a dinner in the city, 40 years to the day of the 1-0 victory over Celtic.

Sadly, manager Davie White passed away earlier this year, but coach Harold Davis will be in attendance as Dundee celebrate a victory earned on a grimy December afternoon at Hampden, amid general national gloom. The prevailing mood had more to do with the miners strike than Dundee’s victory, which was viewed as another shot in the arm for clubs who wanted to believe they could do something against the Old Firm in Glasgow – Celtic had already lost the three previous finals, the two most recent defeats coming against Hibernian and Partick Thistle.

“Maybe we didn’t realise it at the time, and it’s only later on you recognise it – but we were a very good side,” says Scott now, with reference to a team that included Gordon Wallace, who scored the winner that afternoon, and John Duncan, as well as skipper Tommy Gemmell.

“Unfortunately, we did not win more trophies,” he adds. “For the team we had and the football we played, we should have at least competed in more cup finals. Unfortunately, we always drew Celtic in the semi-final (Dundee lost to them four times between 1970 and 1975 in the last four stage of the Scottish Cup). It became psychological. When you drew Celtic, the first thing in tour head is; ‘here we go again’.

“But this was a cup final, and we beat them. There were no fears. Because of the power shortage, there was an early kick-off. It was snowing. We wondered whether the game would even be on. And because of the conditions, there were only 28,000 there. We did not
arrive at ground until late, so there was not much of a warm-up. We were not sitting about worrying about Celtic, and that helped.”

The last time Dundee won a major trophy, Lord Lucan had yet to disappear and, helping to further date the occasion, Jim McLean had only recently crossed the road from Dens to take over as manager at Dundee United. Even so, McLean still managed to feature in the narrative of the cup win. A significant number of players left the celebratory dinner that night in the Angus Hotel to visit McLean at his home in Broughty Ferry, believing he had a hand in their success, and were later fined by a furious White.

“I don’t regret it because we did it because of what he had contributed to us as players, individually and collectively,” says Scott.

“The last season he was at Dens – 1970-71 – was I think my best ever campaign and I got a couple of Scottish caps.

“His demands were just very high. If you fell below them, that is when he would start ranting and raving. He got the best out of you.

“It was not me alone that went down to see him that night,” he continues. “I was one of the sheep. I might be wrong, but I think George Stewart might have been a leader. He phoned him up, and said: ‘get the drink out, we are coming down’. I think he was overcome by the gesture”

If you told Scott then that Dundee would not win another trophy for 40 more years – and counting? “What I would have replied would not be printable,” he says. “I would never have believed you.” In saying that, it was 11 years since the club’s sole Scottish league title success, and just over 20 years after they had last lifted the League Cup. Although this 1952 victory was their second win in succession, Dundee’s cup successes have been otherwise sporadic.

As for Scott, there was much left in store so far as his career was concerned, including another League Cup success with Aberdeen (again against Celtic, and after he had scored a hat-trick in the semi-final v Rangers), while he also played against Pele for Seattle Sounders v New York Cosmos when the Brazilian legend played his last ever game. But tomorrow night, they will be banging the drum for Dundee like it’s 1973 all over again.