How could a season of administration that saw us stare closure in the face, be handed a 25 point deduction that left us 20 adrift of our nearest rivals and seemingly destined for 3rd tier football for the first time in our 109 years history could turn into one of the most magical experiences of my life?
Never in all my time as a Dundee FC fan have I experienced as many emotional states as I have this season. There was the subdued start of a new campaign, the game at Cowdenbeath which left me shocked to my very core then, just when it felt like things couldn’t get worse, our plunge into administration for a second time. This left me fearing that the plug was about to be pulled on the club I love’s life support machine but from that moment of despair my predominant feelings have been a mixture of pride, excitement, determination to keep my club here and most importantly....... BELIEF!
I really haven’t seen any other fans rally around their club in which the way we did. Granted we have the ‘Been there and done that’ t-shirt but to me, this time it was different and I actually feared that Dundee FC would become no more. But then we faced Partick at home, just after receiving the shock news of the 25 point penalty, and this is a match that will be forever etched in my mind. Not for the result, not for the goal from Jamie Adams in the dying minutes, and not even for the effort and fight the players showed on the park and would be the defining characteristic of the season. No, the thing that will stay with me forever was the atmosphere that day. Like every other team in any other country, Dundee have their share of boo boys but, for this game, they didn’t turn up. Instead they were replaced with a larger-than-average crowd of people shouting nothing but encouragement and roaring their support. I even managed to persuade a friend of mine, who is an Arab for his sins, to come along and take in the match in which he did with quiet enthusiasm, especially when the winning goal went in. From that day on _______ __________ (name deleted due to a pending superinjunction as the Arab in question seeks to preserve his credibility around Tannadice) has been constantly reminded that he Derry Rhumba’d with such passion that I think he secretly bleeds blue blood!
Speaking of that Derry Rhumba, the way the spiritual home of the Dundee support exploded when the winner went in off Jamie’s knee/shin/bum/who cares was nothing short of amazing. I saw people climbing on people who were climbing on people and it’s fair to say a few must’ve suffered injuries to their phones, glasses or person as they were caught in this sea of celebration. In all my years supporting Dundee, I think this was the only time when I have deliberately broken off from the celebrations just so I could stand back and look in awe at the South Enclosure. Hell I even gave my dad a tap on the shoulder so he could share my amazement in the wild scenes all around us.
From then on I had faith that we could beat the challenges left for us by the people who had got us in this mess and those who had handed us the football equivalent of capital punishment. I believed we could, and clearly so did the players who took us on a quite incredible journey.
Gary Harkins’ free kick and Neil McCann’s winner against Raith. Standing in the rain to see us equal the club’s unbeaten record. Seeing a lifelong Dundee fan make his debut and playing his part as the league leaders were put to the sword. Watching the loony tunes pitch invasion at Falkirk Stadium...this season had more than a touch of the fairytale about it. The team have been an absolute joy to watch and the players deserve to take their place among the greats of Dundee’s history. The run they went on to ensure that we are still here, especially the fact they had seen their mates lose their jobs and have their own futures thrown into doubt, is something that has me bursting with pride. Never before have I seen a bond between players and fans like I have here and I am proud to say that I have been a part of it.
I have never been prouder to be a Dark Blue and, for everything we have achieved over the past season I salute Barry Smith, his players, the staff at Dens, and my fellow Dark blues.
Now we look to the future and hope that the dark days are behind us. People say you learn from your mistakes and it’s safe to say that we have more than our fair share to learn from but I believe that this time it will be different for Dundee FC. We have a proud tradition to uphold in this city and I now look forward and dream that we can bring the glory days back to Dens Park with honest hard work.
And I will always get a shiver down my spine when I remember how it felt to look onto the Derry when the ball hit the net at that Partick game.