Hector Nicol’s song ‘Up Wi’ The Bonnets’ pays homage to the great Dundee side who became the Champions of Scotland for the first and only time on the last day of the of 1961/1962 season.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can now read the matchday programme in full along with a few extra pages from that night’s Sporting Post. The programme includes notes and comments, the team line-ups, that days fixtures and a hell of a lot of advertisements. Who cares about adverts though? It’s the programme from the day we won the league!
Most present-day Dundee supporters weren’t lucky enough to see the side in action that Bob Crampsie described as the best footballing team that Scotland ever produced but that doesn’t stop fans of all ages celebrating them as heroes to this day. We are reminded of these players and their accomplishments on a regular basis and rightly so. For the fans that were there to witness this marvellous event, a mere mention of this will bring a wry smile along with the words, “I was there.”
Saturday, 28th April 1962 was the day when Dundee stood at the top of Scottish football. We were the best team in the county and about to clinch our greatest-ever achievement.
With the sun shining down on Muirton Park, over 20,000 Dundee supporters would make the short trip to Perth as they hoped to see to the coronation of the new kings of Scotland.
Dundee went into the match needing only a point to clinch their first title. A dramatic midweek had seen them beat St Mirren at home while closest challengers Rangers stumbled to a 1-0 defeat against Aberdeen. St Johnstone also needed a point, but to stave off relegation.
Ian Ure recalled in his book, Ure’s Truly, that: “A message was passed to the players that they could collect £50 each if thy made it a draw. The idea was treated with contempt and only served to double our determination.”
Dundee had previously lost the League Championship on the last day of the 1947/48 season with defeat away to Falkirk but there would be no similar heartbreak for players and supporters this time around. The Gods were smiling on the Dark Blues and the team grabbed their shot at glory with both hands, an emphatic 3-0 win (Gilzean 2, Penman) sealing the title.
When the final whistle went, the team were mobbed by wave after wave of Dundee supporters as their joy at seeing The Dee finally winning the top prize was too much for them to remain in the terraces.
The heroes were lost among the thousands who swarmed the turf before being hoisted upon the shoulders of delirious fans. Some players attempted to make their way up to the directors’ box only to be swallowed up by jubilant Dees in the Muirton stand.
For the 6,000 or so St Johnstone fans in attendance, the sight of Dundee fans holding a party on their own patch compounded their misery. They sat 5th bottom of the league at kick off time, only to find themselves relegated to the Second Division on goal average (this being before the introduction of goal difference) 90 minutes later.
The celebrations continued through the night and beyond for everyone of a Dark Blue persuasion. Thousands lined the streets of Dundee to welcome the team bus home and cheer them as manager Bob Shankly, captain Bobby Cox and the rest of the immortals acknowledged the huge support from the balcony of City Chambers.
That night’s Sporting Post headline was one of the simplest in the illustrious history of that publication but ‘It’s Dundee’s League’ said all that you needed to know and remains a joy to read nearly six decades on.
Goalkeeper Pat Liney later admitted that no one at the club expected to be challenging for the title that year.
“I remember it like it was yesterday especially as our triumph was so unexpected,” he said.
“If you had said to me at the start of the season that we would be top four or five then we would have settled for that.
“We started the season not expected to win the League and we also did not do too well in the League Cup sections that opened the season. There was no big thing that just happened, we clicked together and with Rangers two points behind, we ended up at St Johnstone needing a point to win the League.
The team were a close-knit unit with seven of them living in one big house in Roseangle, a vital factor in Dundee’s success, according to Pat.
“We lived together, played football together, went to the dancing together and became great friends together,” he recalled.
More importantly, they became Champions together and, for that, we Dundee fans will forever be grateful.