28th April 1962. We’ve grew up on tales of that sunny day at Muirton Park in Perth when Dundee clinched the title to become Champions of Scotland. We sit back and listen to former players who fondly tell stories of that game and what It was like to reach the summit of Scottish football.
But what about the fans who were in attendance that day? I’ve heard some stories from Dundee fans who were there in ‘62 in the Clep Bar as they slowly sip on their pint, look back and educate their young grandchildren on our greatest ever achievement.
What was it actually like though? What feelings did that day bring as they witnessed the team they supported become the best in the land? What emotions did they feel in the run up to the game?
Well we spoke to a few supporters who made the short trip to Perth when Dundee became the crème de la crème of Scottish Football. So, sit back and enjoy listening to their stories of that historic day in ’62.
Up first to speak about his memories of that day is Jim McFarlane who is retired and Carnoustie.
“I played with older boys as I grew up and as the season went on I would pick up from them how good Dundee were. I had been going to Dens for four years and I went to every home game the title winning season.
“It was the big boys who raved about a" great team" and my dad and uncle would talk about Gilzean being fantastic. I think the possibility of winning the league started in my head when Dundee beat Rangers 5 -1 and then beat Raith 5-4 the following week.
“They were seven points clear of Rangers and it was 2 points for a win. Then they lost Gillie through injury and hit a slump. That takes us to the midweek St Mirren game, the second last game of the season when Liney saved the penalty and Andy Penman scored a second goal in a 2-0 win.
“Before the St Mirren game we were equal points with Rangers. They had a better goal average than Dundee. On the night Dundee were playing Saints the "Sons of William" were playing Aberdeen.
“The crowd waited behind at Dens for the final score to come through from Aberdeen. The emotion in the tannoy announcers voice told the crowd that Aberdeen had won and Dens erupted. It was a wonderful night. We needed a draw at Perth to be champions.
“We got a pre- booked bus in the Seagate. I told you about the guy nearly getting killed by the car at the hotel half way to Perth. (Jim told a story when the bus stopped a hotel halfway between Dundee and Perth and a fan got off, ran up the back and as he went to cross the road, a car was coming in the opposite direction. The fan dived as the vehicle got closer, rolled over, got up and started laughing and carried on with his business. He certainly wasn’t going to miss this game!)
“We sneaked into the game. My brother tells me it was tense until Penman’s third goal. I never felt tense. It was hot sunny day and the win was never in doubt to me. I was directly in line with Penman’s goal. I can still hear the ball hit the net. Full time we were on the pitch near Bobby Cox being carried off. It was an emotional high. I think the team left the park and then returned in the stands. Might be wrong there. Then back to Dundee to the city square after a 20-mile traffic jam. I recall the players on the balcony and fans on shoulders. Great day for the fans.”
Next up we have John Brown from the Evening Telegraphs ‘Blether with Brown’ who looks back at not only the game, but that all important match before at Dens against St Mirren.
“To get a feel of what is was like at Muirton Park, Perth, on April 28, 1962, I reckon you have to refer back to a couple of days previous.
“That is when the last game of the season at Dens Park was taking place, with St Mirren visiting. It was a Wednesday night fixture and Dundee and Rangers were neck and neck at the top of the league.
“With the score at 1-0 to the hosts, St Mirren were awarded a penalty. The 20,000 crowd were stunned and Dens Park fell silent in disbelief, but massively erupted as Pat Liney pulled off a wonder save from Jim Clunie's spot-kick.
“Dundee almost immediately went down the park and Andy Penman netted the clincher for a 2-0 victory.
“At the final whistle, there was the initial cheers, then silence again as the crowd waited on Rangers' result at Pittodrie. There were no radios in those days (although transistors were not far away), and I reckon no-one left the ground at time up.
“It was an eerie, uneasy and nervous hush for a few minutes until the over-excited announcer on the crackly sound system proclaimed, "Aberdeen 1 Rangers NOTHING! Dens erupted and, as we walked down the stairs of the South Enclosure, "Hail, Hail The Dee Are Here rang out."
“Dundee were two points ahead going into the final game.
“So, on to the Saturday, and, upon waking, the first words I heard was my dad saying to my mother…."It's a glorious sunny day, we can't fail. How true.
“We journeyed through to Perth in my dad's car in the company of my uncle and cousin. My Aunt Agnes stayed on the South Inch and she invited us for lunch. After eating a hearty spread, we walked to the ground, which was on the other side of Perth, but Dundee fans seemed to be everywhere. I literally did not see one St Johnstone supporter among the Dark Blue masses.
“Arriving at the ground about an hour prior to kick-off, we immediately went in. We were stationed behind the goal which Dundee would attack in the second half. The ground filled up quickly and my dad told me and my cousin to go down to the 'dyke' to get a better view. He also said, if we got separated, that he would just see me back at Auntie Agnes' house for tea! Remember, I'm just 10 years old (he could be jailed for that nowadays!).
“The game unfolded just as you have heard and read a million times.
“We are 3-0 up and the packed crowd are pushing down towards the 'dyke' in an attempt to get on to the pitch quickly to celebrate when the final whistle came.
“I felt a bit crushed and uncomfortable at that point and a patrolling trackside policeman saw this and lifted me over. As soon as my feet touched the ground, the ref blew and a tsunami of dark blue swamped on to the park.
“I literally didn't know where I was running to and ended up hugging Bobby Cox on the halfway line. There is an iconic photo of Bobby on the pitch being chaired by fans . . . and I am somewhere in there under his backside!
“We all just sang and danced and chanted and some of the Dundee players who got off the pitch eventually ventured into the main stand to receive the plaudits.
“It was now past 6pm, I had lost touch with my relatives, but, even in these young years, my knowledge of Perth was such that I easily navigated through the town back to the South Inch. Everyone else was there, and we quickly had our tea and drove back to Dundee.
“Most of the Dundee fans had already returned to the city and we couldn't find a place to park in the city centre. After circling a couple of times, we parked up the west port. All four of us literally ran down to a packed city square where the Dee players and officials were on view on the tiny balcony.
“We could only get a view from the peripheral.
“I've got to say, that brilliant as it was, due to my young years, the scale of it all probably partially escaped me and I couldn't understand why grown men around me were crying.
“Compared to what would happen on such an occasion nowadays, it was really low-key, or we may have just missed some of the best bits.
“After that, it was back home to watch the game again on TV on Scotsport (or it might have been the BBC equivalent).
“The following day, a Sunday, my father usually just bought The Sunday Post. On this occasion, he came back from the newsagent with just about every Sunday paper!!!
“As a delighted Dundee fan, I thought that this was the way it was always going to be, but we now know otherwise!”
Peter Caproni who is the author of two Dundee books titled 'Diary of a Dee' and 'We Must be Daft: Following the Fortunes of Dundee FC' also gave his recollections of that day.
"The date 28th April 1962 sticks in my mind for obvious reasons--my circumstances however might have been a bit different to many of the thousands of Dundee fans--you see I lived over 50 miles away in a little town called Tillicoultry. In those days unlike today, travelling was much more difficult and as my Dad still hadn't car we had to travel by bus and train--My Grandfather was Italian but my Grandmother was a Dundonian and my Dad followed the fortunes albeit from afar of his hometown team and brought me up to follow suit--My Dad was an assurance agent and worked on a Saturday morning but that day he was home early at 11.00am as promised as we had to get a bus to Alloa then a train to Perth. There we met up with an old acquaintance of Dad's, a rabid Dundee fan, an exiled Dundonian and his son who like me had been brought up a Dundee fan.
"In the city of Dundee, Dundee United were playing hosts to Hearts. The attendance was 6000. But for the majority of the football supporting public in the city, another game appeared to be attracting more attention,more than 10% of the total population in fact. Over 20,000 travelled the twenty two miles to the fair city of Perth to see their team, Dundee FC, the oldest senior club in the city play St Johnstone knowing that a win would bring the Scottish League Championship to Dens Park.
"I was 15 at the time. My ambition was to play for Dundee and although i didn't quite achieve that i did play at senior level with Stirling Albion ,a top tier club at the time and later Alloa Athletic and although illness then injury put paid to what was considered a promising career I still managed to stay in the professional game as a Physio then coach for over 30 years. At 15 I was so excited to be actually going to see my heroes possibly win the Championship. My Dad was 49 at the time and I remember him saying that he waited over 40 years for this moment.
"When we reached Perth we descended excitedly from the train where there already hundreds of Dundee supporters. When leaving the station we burst into song " Hail Hail the Dee are here." That was the song most sung at the time by the Dundee fans and it echoed loudly throughout the station as walked almost like an army on the march out of the station.
The sun was glorious as we exited the station to walk to Muirton Park. There were Dundee supporters everywhere.
"When we arrived at Muirton it was only ten to two and the gates were still closed but already there were queues some stretching back over thirty yards as the Dundee fans arrived in their thousands. We eventually took our place down near the corner flag (at the end where Dundee would score twice in the second half) The ground was full long before the kick off. The attendance was 26,500. The whole stadium was taken over by Dundee fans I don't recall seeing even one supporter wearing St Johnstone colours.
"The weather was magnificent. At three o'clock it was almost a relief when the referee blew his whistle. We were only 90 minutes from glory.
'There was an early scare when Hamilton cleared off the line. Saints,who had Alex Ferguson in their line up and Bill Taylor in goal (who was to become a team mate of mine in later years at Stirling Albion) fought for the First Division lives knowing that a draw would keep them up.
"With 25 mins gone, after a splendid move and great play from Cousin and Seith, Gordon Smith swung a magnificent cross over from the right wing and Gilzean (who else) rose majestically to head into the net. The huge Dundee support went into state of delirium! The Dark Blues were in control now and looked a confident side going into the break.
"In the second half with around 30 mins left a glorious ball from Hamilton found Gilzean and the big striker skipped elegantly passed a Saints defender before sliding the ball into the net. Then a few minute later Andy Penman thundered home number 3 and from then on it was a gala day!
"The crowd never stopped singing and as the final whistle approached hundreds fans clambered over the barrier at the foot of the terracing. When the whistle sounded it seemed as if all 20000 Dundee fans were on the pitch. Dad and I were on the pitch as well. "We want the Champs" was the chant. The Dundee players were carried shoulder high from the pitch and the crowd didn't leave until the players finally made an appearance in the Muirton Park stand. The dream really was a reality - we were the Champions of Scotland.
"Whilst most of the fans were scrambling on trains for Dundee we were heading in the opposite direction. The walk to the train station had been fantastic with thousands of fans singing and dancing in the street. "Bonnie Dundee" echoed from the bagpipes being mercilessly squeezed by a piper in full regalia. That night I watched with my Dad the match again on Scotsport and went to bed with a huge smile on my face and woke in the morning with an even bigger one. I couldn't wait for Sunday morning to read all about it. I must have bough every available paper possible!"
Edited by UWTB1893