They may sit cheek by jowl but James McPake insists it is wrong to dub the Dundee derby ‘friendly’ as the clubs can barely stand the sight of each other.
The Dens Park manager will welcome his neighbours tomorrow night in the eagerly-awaited clash as he strives to exact revenge for their 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Robbie Neilson’s Dundee United side in late August.
McPake knows there’s long been the image of the city fixture not having the same intensity as other city derbies across Scotland, with rival fans known to meet up before and after the 90 minutes.
But the former Dundee captain, who was yesterday named Ladbrokes Championship manager of the month for October on the back of three consecutive league victories, knows friendship will be in short supply when the old foes go head-to-head in Friday night’s televised encounter.
McPake said: “Everyone says it’s a friendly derby but it’s not a friendly as far as I’m concerned. It’s two teams and sets of supporters that, for those 90 minutes, detest each other.
“Of course, you know there’s needle but there’s never any trouble – and that’s the way it should be. Take away the fact it’s the Championship, it’s a great advert for Scottish football, and this one will be as keenly contested as ever.”
McPake admits he would gladly settle for winning ugly in their quest to close the gap on league leaders United at the top of the table as the pair battle it out for a place back in the Premiership.
He said: “I would absolutely accept a dull 1-0 victory. I think Robbie would say the same. I would takes that kind of result with no fans out there – never mind the atmosphere!
“I don’t know what it is about this fixture. It’s a night fixture as well which might add to the overall occasion.
“Basically, it’s two teams who go for each other and it makes for a great atmosphere. Don’t let anyone kid you on, though, it’s the one that the players look out for when they sign for the club. There are some big-game players in our changing room who relish this sort of occasion. The first question they ask when you’re signing them is when is the derby, and Robbie will get the same question.
“When do we get the chance to play them is what they’re asking. That’s only natural and it shows you what it means to the players.” Dundee made it an awards double yesterday, with their midfielder Declan McDaid named the Championship player of the month.