Dundee United: The Official Centenary

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Alan Brown
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Dundee United: The Official Centenary

Post by Alan Brown » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:55 am

This book has now been published and is available at a discount from Amazon. It has a full stats section.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dundee-United-O ... 097&sr=8-1

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Post by Scottish » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:52 pm

The new Dundee United centenary history could serve as a template for club histories. Just about everything the reader expects from such a book is contained within its 282 pages.

Presentationally, it could scarcely look better. A ‘coffee-table’ size hardback, printed on glossy paper with illustrations, photographs, programme covers and press cuttings liberally interspersed throughout the text, the book is easy on the eye if heavy on the hand. This is one for reading spread out on the dining table, not for bedtime or on the train/tube/bus to work.

The task of telling the tale of 100 Tannadice years is undertaken by Peter Rundo & Mike Watson, both United fans and both also authors of previous works on the club. They’ve had access to club records right back to the beginning and their affection for their subject is evident throughout. Yet while the book is primarily aimed at United fans it is also one which will be enjoyed by football supporters regardless of club affiliation.

The main body of the text is in a season-by season format, encompassing the first 150 pages and takes us from the beginnings of the club 100 years ago right up to the end of the 2008-09 season. Many will be familiar with the Dundee United story from the Jerry Kerr & Jim McLean eras onward – the ‘double double’ defeats of Barcelona, triumphs in League & League Cup and – at the seventh attempt – the Scottish Cup. The glory nights in Europe leading to the heartbreak of Rome’s Olympic Stadium and then on to Gothenburg will be well known too. But for those too young to remember or those who love the nostalgia of a time when Scottish football held its head as high as any in Europe these are tales worth the re-telling.

Yet this is a club whose centenary story can be told in two almost equal half-century parts. The United of today are the top dogs on Tayside, constantly regarded as a potential threat to the OF and an almost permanent fixture in Scotland’s top flight. But the tale of their first fifty years is of a different order entirely and one that will be unfamiliar to all but the die-hard fitba historian. Whereas Dundee United have spent just one year in the past fifty outside the top division they enjoyed top flight status for just four of their first fifty years – with three of those ending in relegation!

The club that kept losing Cup Final after Cup Final in the 1970s and 1980s never even reached the last four until 1963. In the League Cup – where they were perennial challengers throughout the 1980s – advance to the semi-finals was first achieved even later than that, in 1964-65. Even when they only had other B/2nd Division teams to beat, Dundee United could reach just three quarter-finals in fifteen years. As for Europe; that was a place where young men went to fight and die, not to play football.

These stories of struggle are every bit as compelling as the more familiar tales of glory.

It is fascinating stuff, starting with the compound of chutzpah and ruthlessness which was their birth as Dundee Hibernian in 1909. Less than 24 hours after foundation they had submitted a letter asking for entry to the Scottish League. That was the chutzpah. The ruthlessness was displayed in the way they took over the then Clepington Park, leaving the existing tenants – Dundee Wanderers – out in the cold and heading towards oblivion.

That was a fate which often seemed to be luring the new club too, as they lost their league place, changed their name and even resigned from the league mid-season, only to dramatically rescind their resignation days later.

That they survived at all, let alone thrived to become the present-day club is a tribute to those that fought to keep the club going through their darkest days and the authors have used their access to club records to shed much light on those times.

The second part of the book is a statto’s delight. There are full line-ups, results, scorers and crowds for all major competitions. A declaration of interest here: I’m generously name-checked a couple of times. The stats are in a ‘Rothmans-style’ lay-out and include points totals and league position after every match. Each season has a mention of league winners/relegated & club manager. Every page is illustrated, often with a team photo and the club colours are given for each season.

The book is rounded off with a handy statistical miscellany. There are all-time head-to-heads for the domestic competitions, a list of friendlies, testimonial and tour games, with dates, scorers and crowds for most and a summary of attendance highs and lows.

There are pen portraits of all 29 (as of the time of writing) United managers, a list of league ‘ever-presents’ and a complete list of players who have made at least 100 first class appearances and/or scored 100 goals.

There is also a full list of players who have made international appearances while with United. Given that they had no internationalists of any description until 1965 and no Scotland internationalist until 1977, the current tally of 38 (19 Scotland) spread over 11 countries is impressive.

Many of this website’s regulars will be interested in a feature near the back of the book: a list of dates, rounds, results, scorers & crowds for ‘minor competitions.’ There are too many to list them all but some of the better known ones are the Forfarshire Cup, Dewar Shield, Penman Cup, Eastern League and the North American & International Soccer Leagues.

The stats section – and the book – concludes with details of the oldest and youngest players and scorers, progress of the record transfer fee both paid and received and a ‘Tannadice Timeline.’

As I said at the beginning of this review, this could easily serve as a template for club histories. It is very difficult to think of any significant omissions and the authors are to be commended for producing this worthy addition to the Scottish club history canon.

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