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1964-65 Alex Totten Recalls Shankly's Babes

Billy Campbell's Ghost


Back in the swinging sixties Dundee fans had lived and enjoyed the glorious 1962 championship win to the full and on the park at Dens there were signs that the halcyon days were over and rebuilding had to be done - Ure and Gilzean were off to the big mone


Season 1964/65 came around and Dundee had followed up their '62 success with a brave but failed Cup Final effort against Rangers in April 1964. It was a new season but with a disastrous start.

The old-style League Cup had drawn us in a section with Falkirk, Dundee United and Motherwell and Dundee made a grim start to this campaign with four defeats in five games.

Manager Bob Shankly decided enough was enough and to face Motherwell in the second last game of the section he decided to drop Bert Slater, skipper Bobby Cox and Bobby Seith, all stars of the famous League winning side.

1962_ally_donaldson.jpgIn came the very young Ally Donaldson, Jimmy Philips, Alex Totten and a 16 year-old who would have a major impact on Dens Park for many years to come - the mercurial John 'Jocky' Scott!

Jocky had been picked up from Chelsea where he had been homesick and Dundee gave him the opportunity to be a lot closer to his native Aberdeen.

It was a wet Wednesday in August 1964, with the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers on everyone's lips and although Dundee had made such a bad start 12,000 still turned up that Wednesday night.

Motherwell were at full strength and the teams lined up:

Dundee: Donaldson, Hamilton and Totten, Philips, Ryden, Stuart, Penman, Scott, Waddell, Cousin and Robertson.

Motherwell: Wylie, Thomson and McCallum, McCann, Delaney, Murray, Coakley, Lindsay, McBride, Hunter and Weir.

I spoke to Alex Totten, who also made his debut as an 18-year old and remembers the occasion well.

'Shankly decided to throw in the youngsters and the four of us were nervous but delighted to make our debuts. We realised there were stars at Dens and this was brought home when during one of our regular lunches in D.M Browns, Alan Gilzean came in and told us he was going to Spurs for £72,500… we were amazed, as in these days £25,000 was a big fee!'

‘This meant a great deal of responsibility was being placed on us young lads to try and take over from legends and keep Dundee at the top of Scottish football.'

Anyway that August night any fears or gloom over what was the final recognition that an era was  over was turned into joy and renewed optimism as the 'Shankly Babes' turned over Motherwell, and had the Dens crowd singing in the rain!

Alex remembers the experience well and recalled, 'I had been lucky enough to have played under the other Shankly, Bill at Liverpool and here I was now with his brother at Dens. They were different people, Bill - extrovert and keen to promote his club at every opportunity while Bob was quiet and effective and a great tactician.'

1964_Scott_Totten_John_Phillips.jpg'That night against Motherwell, Jocky formed a great partnership down the right with Andy Penman and with Bobby Waddell on great form everything we did turned to gold. - Bobby cracked in one from 22 yards early on and won a penalty on the half-hour which Andy Penman made his usual immaculate job of.'

'We were all over them and by full time had made it six with Waddell grabbing three, another for Penman and Alan Cousin sidefooting one in. The fans were in raptures and one of the real stars was Jocky, who for a 16-year old showed great composure and skill.'

'The defence was sound with Hammy and myself keeping ant rare 'Well attack at bay. -Hammy was and still is a great character and in training he had his WB and his HB, - His Wembley Ball and his Hampden Ball to prove he had played in these great arenas – a great guy but also a star! '

Alex remembers that they were given a good run in the first team before the inevitable 'rest' came along and in that spell beat both Rangers and Dundee United 4-1. The United win was at Tannadice and the credit went to the 'great trio of Hamilton, Totten and Philips at the back'

Alex remembers that Ally Donaldson was in the Scotland squad for the 1966 World Cup when Scotland failed to qualify.

Alex is not sure what happened to Jimmy Philips but we all know where Alex went. He went on to become one of the most respected managers in the game and more importantly one of the most respected people.

He is currently working at his old job as Sales Manager with a tyre company and is also to be heard on Sportsound on Saturdays which he thoroughly enjoys.

I asked Alex who he rated in the game over the years, but particularly when he played.

'Gilzean was something special and so was Ian St. John while John Connolly of St. Johnstone was an excellent player. I also played against George Best and there is not a lot you can add to his praises. More recently, Davie Cooper is the most skilful player I have seen - he did things with a ball at training in my Ibrox days that were unbelievable!'

Alex has been out of the game a few weeks now but that situation surely won't last as he is regarded so highly in the game, not just by players and coaches but also by the fans.

I could tell his affection and enthusiasm for the game while we chatted and all I can say from all Scottish football fans is - 'Hurry back Alex, the game will be richer for your involvement. '


Recommended Comments

Billy' I am no gonna pretend I remember awe the games back then. But my goodness me, you've got style & flare.

Excellent piece of work, that brings back good memories, both in & out o' fitba ...  Thank you for taking the time:chaplin:

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