This Saturdays league cup clash against Ayr United at Dens Park may conjure up past memories of previous encounters for the older generation of Dundee fans but for the younger ones out there, we once took on Ayr in this very competition with a place in the 1980-81 final at stake.
Back in them days, the semi-final was contested over two legs and the first happened at Somerset Park on November the 5th between the Division One sides.
6,801 supporters witnessed Dundee take the lead through Eric Sinclair and it would require a late equaliser from Bobby Connor to give Ayr a draw against a Dundee side that had been struck down with a flu virus.
Dundee manager Donald Mackay described the dressing room at half-time, “like a casualty clearing station.”
MacKay also said after the match: “We wanted a good result in the 1st leg of the Bell’s League Cup semi-final at Ayr and came out in a keenly contested tie with a 1-1 draw.
“There were questions marks about the goal we lost near the end, but it was the first we had conceded on seven games in the competition.
“Jim Murphy, George McGeachie, Peter Mackie and Bobby Glennie were affected by a flu type virus and George and Peter had to come off.
“Now we have it all to do at Dens Park. One pleasing feature was that we stretched our unbeaten run to a dozen games.”
The 2nd leg took place on November 19th, on a cold, rainy night in front of 9,439 supporters at Dens Park. The South Enclosure was shut due to work taking place which diluted the atmosphere that the stand normally produced.
Dundee took the lead through Billy Williamson but Ayr equalised thanks to Gerry Christie. The Dark Blues were then dealt a massive blow when Stewart MacLaren and Eric Schaedler suffered a clash of heads and were stretchered off to be replaced by Peter Mackie and Les Barr. Ayr then took the lead in the second half through Billy McColl. This would not stop the Dee who laid siege on the Ayr goal with Cammy Fraser eventually levelling the score. In dramatic fashion near the end, Eric Sinclair would not only score the goal to win the match, but to send Dundee into their first final since 1973.
“That was a real thriller but we got a tremendous backing from the crowd and after beating Aberdeen in the previous round, we feared nobody,” said a delighted Cammy Fraser.
Fraser wasn’t the only one to praise the crowd after reaching the final.
“I give full credit to the players, but we must not forget our supporters who were wonderful on that great occasion,” said Donald Mackay.
“The support was wholehearted. They lifted the team when we needed it most and the boys responded magnificently.
“It was a fine example of just what sincere support can mean for a team.”
In the other semi-final that night, Dundee United bet Celtic 3-0 at Parkhead for a 4-1 aggregate victory to set up the first and only all Dundee Derby cup final.