Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dundee




 












Dundee FC is a professional football club from the city of the same name on the east coast of Scotland having been formed in 1893 following the merger of Dundee Our Boys and Dundee East End, adopting Our Boys dark blue colours.

‘The Dees’ or ‘Dark Blues’ played their first match at the West Craigie Park home of Our Boys against Rangers. Dundee moved into Carolina Port, the former home of East End and then Strathmore while struggling in their initial decade in existence. In 1899 Dundee departed Carolina Port by the harbour and moved up hill to Clepington and a new stadium called Dens Park.



The move worked wonders as The Dees finished as league runners-up in 1902-03, 1906-07 and 1908-09. The first trophy arrived at Dens in 1910 when Clyde were beaten 2-1 in the Scottish Cup Final at Ibrox Park after two replays. John ‘Sailor’ Hunter netted the winning goal.

Following World War One, forward Dave Halliday scored an incredible 103 goals in just 147 appearances for the club. This assisted Dundee to reach the Cup Final again in 1925 before going down 2-1 to Celtic at Hampden Park. The Dees were relegated just before the outbreak of World War Two but regained their place in the top flight in 1947. In 1948-49 the club once again ended as league runners-up.



However, more silverware was just around the corner. A world record transfer fee of £23,500 was spent on Billy Steel from Derby County in 1950 before the League Cup was won in 1952 as Rangers were seen off 3-2. In the Cup Final of the same year Motherwell hammered the Dark Blues 4-0 in front of a staggering attendance of 136,274.

Dundee returned to Hampden the following year to retain the League Cup with a 2-0 win against Kilmarnock. The team included the likes of Bill Brown, Tommy Gallacher, Doug Cowie, Alfie Boyd and Bobby Flavell alongside Steel,



Bob Shankly, the brother of Bill, was appointed as manager in 1959. In 1961-62 Dees were crowned as champions of Scotland following their win at Muirton Park against St Johnstone. The team included skipper Bobby Cox, Ian Ure and Alan Gilzean.

The following season Dundee defeated 1FC Koln, Sporting Clube de Portugal and RSC Anderlecht in the European Cup before losing to AC Milan in the semi final. In 1964 Dees reached the Cup Final once again. This time they went down 3-1 to Rangers. Shankly departed the club in February 1965.



Former player Bobby Ancell took up the managerial reigns and took the side to the League Cup Final of 1968, where they lost out 5-3 to Celtic. In the same seasons’ Inter City Fairs Cup Dundee reached the semi final before going out to Leeds United over two legs.

With Tommy Gemmill as skipper and David White as boss, Dees defeated Celtic 1-0 at Hampden to lift the 1973 League Cup. Another final was reached in 1980. This time the opponents were near neighbours Dundee United. The game was played at Dens Park with United winning 3-0. In 1990 the side won the Challenge Cup with a 3-2 victory over Ayr United at Fir Park.



In 2000 Dundee hit the headlines as they spent big on famous signings. Ivano Bonetti came in as Player-Manager along with the signings of Claudio Caniggia, Temuri Ketsbaia and Julian Speroni. The signings helped Dees reach the Cup Final of 2003 where Rangers won 1-0. However, the signings also led to financial disaster as the club entered Administration in 2003 with debts of £23M.

Dens Park was sold to secure the clubs future as the team were relegated to the second tier before skipper Fabian Caballero moved on. Alex Rae was sacked as manager with Jocky Scott having a third spell at Dens. Dundee lifted the Challenge Cup with a 1-0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2010 before Scott departed.



A few months later the club entered Administration for a second time with a tax bill to HM Revenue & Customs. Many of the clubs directors moved on before a twenty five point deduction was imposed. Despite this the team went on a twenty five match unbeaten run to retain their second tier status under manager Barry Smith.

In May 2011 Dundee exited Administration with the supporters trust becoming majority owners. More reshuffles arose behind the scenes as the club looked for stability with an ethos of ‘cutting your cloth’ being adopted.



In July 2012 Dundee were invited to take the place of Rangers in the Premier League. Their spell in the top flight lasted just one season as Smith was replaced by John Brown who couldn’t save the team from relegation despite improving results.

Bill Colvin came in as the new Chairman of a board which invested £650,000 in the close season. Brown lasted until February 2014 before Paul Hartley took over as results had fluctuated. Hartley’s side went into the last game in front of a sold out Dens Park crowd against Dumbarton needing to win to seal promotion.



Dees won 2-1 while Hamilton Academical completed a remarkable 10-2 victory over Greenock Morton to finish just short. Hartley spent the summer of 2014 rebuilding the side in preparation for top flight football once more.

Dundee FC will play in the SPFL Scottish Premiership in the 2014-15 season.


My visit

Dundee 1 Kilmarnock 0 (Wednesday 21st January 2015) SPFL Scottish Premiership (att: 5,141)



I found myself on a mini adventure to Scotland thanks to my accrued Loyalty Points and refund vouchers for poor service from East Coast trains during a week off work. The previous evening I’d been to the Highlands to take in the clash between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone.

The scenic train journey from Inverness to Aberdeen had taken me past the grounds of Elgin City, Forres Mechanics and Huntly, before the second leg of the trip took me down the coast with a good view of Arbroath’s Gayfield. I got out at the seaside resort of Broughty Ferry, a few miles east of Dundee. This was where I was to stay for the night.



It turned out to be an inspired choice. It was cold but the sun was shining and offering lovely views up and across The Tay as well as showing the town at its best. I had a lovely walk before turning in for a siesta.

The lady at the Invermark Guest House was hospitality personified after I’d got her attention following a misunderstanding. My room was top class and warm. I felt brand new after a nap, shower and change of clothes before I headed off to meet up for my ride to the match.



Research had led me to the Ferry Branch of the Dundee Supporters Club who met at the Fort Bar. After a message on Facebook to them a week before I was invited to travel to Dens Park and back with them.

While I’m a real ale man by preference, the McEwans 80’ on smoothflow was excellent while I caught up with the day’s action on Sky. I introduced myself and made sure I was in the right place! The fans soon started to arrive.



I had a nice chat with the fans, which were most welcoming on the bus. On the subject of the transport, it was the first time I’d ever been on one with five seats in a row. The small aisle reminded me it was time to hit the gym. The fella in charge even tried to sort me a ticket out.

On arrival at Dens I went inside the club shop to buy my £20 ticket and £3 programme. I also got hold of a teamsheet in return for a small donation to the clubs youth set up. I was soon inside the Bobby Cox Stand behind the goal with pie and Bovril on a cold but dry evening.



I’d imagined I’d like Dens Park and I wasn’t let down. The old Archibald Leitch Main Stand was simply stunning as at angled away from the pitch in the middle, with seating in two sections. The lower was once a terraced paddock. Originally the stadium also staged greyhound racing and with curves behind the goal with vast swathes of terracing. Signs of the track were still in evidence in some areas, particularly down the sides. The ends had been squared off with two identical stands facing each other. The home end sat in the Bobby Cox Stand with the Bob Shankly Stand at the far end with Tannacide Park just a hundred yards or so behind. The final side has the South Stand or Shed towards the east end. It was a former terrace converted to seating. The open terrace alongside it was now out of bounds.



Killie’s hundred or so fans were placed in the far end of the Main Stand as the Shankly remained closed. The game kicked off at a far faster pace than the game I’d seen the night before. The deadlock was broken in the eighteenth minute when Dees Jim McAllister was brought down inside the box. The impressive former Cowdenbeath man Greg Stewart put the spot kick away with aplomb.



The referee was Andrew Dallas, son of the discredited former official Hugh. He kept up the family reputation with some strange decisions. The star of the show for me was Dundee midfielder Gary Harkins who showed lots of skill and passing ability, but I could also imagine him leaving Dees fans tearing out their hair. He was not unlike Tom Huddlestone at Hull City. The home keeper Scott Bain pulled off a couple of top class saves.

At the break I went for some more supplies. I’d not been hungry at tea time and didn’t want to spoil the beer! It was nice to see displays under the stand celebrating the league title over fifty years previously.



The second half wasn’t as exciting, but it was a decent enough game. Dundee should have really added to the scoreline. Some of Kilmarnock’s players showed a high level of petulance but not a lot else. The right team certainly won.

We got back on board and were away in no time. I was told that the bus was quiet with it being a midweek game, but I pointed out that it was great that they ran a bus and the gate of over 5,000 was impressive.

We were back in The Fort before too long, despite some comments of the driver taking us on a magical mystery tour. I joined three of the fine Dees and enjoyed a few pints before saying farewell as they headed off.



I fancied one for the road so I popped into the Weatherspoon establishment; Jolly’s Hotel. Within a couple of minutes I was back out. The fella behind the bar ignored me while he cleaned up, the ale choice was totally unimaginative and it smelt like a restaurant rather than a pub. Instead I had a decent pint in The Royal Arch by the station, which had some smashing old pictures of both big Dundee clubs on the wall.


I didn’t take any rocking once I got back to my room. It had been a long but fantastic day.





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