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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.
A quick glance at the match programme and that nights Sporting Post confirms it was indeed and I start to feel that little bit older as I cast my mind back to that day. Despite my advancing age, I seem to remember most of that season. The opening day pumping of Falkirk which herald a new beginning under the Marrs and Jim McInally scoring at Starks Park in a 1-0 victory on a cold, dark, November afternoon that had me believing that we could win this league are just aa few from many that I hold. Then there was the game at Broadwood the week before our trip to Starks Park. We were drawing 1-1 and with minutes to go, then up stepped big Steve McCormack to score at the back post to give the Dee the victory. Then only minutes later, the new filtered through via some bloke with a wireless that Morton had also scored a late winner against our nearest rivals Raith which meant we would need just the one point from our remaining five matches. In this day of age, next to everyone has a smartphone with the scores at their fingertips but back then, you relied on a few people who took a radio with them to pass on the other scores. The feeling you got as the news started to make its way down like a tsunami from one end to the other side of the stand that we were on the brink of becoming champions was stunning. One hand was one the title and one foot was in the Premier. As a fresh faced thirteen year-old, success with Dundee was pretty much nonexistent following the Dee. You could say that that's been the case ever since but back then, you latched onto the good feeling of winning every week and as a kid, you were on cloud nine after each match and it felt like this team could take on anyone. With Eddie Annand and James Grady banging them in for fun, who could blame me for thinking like this! Travelling to the Raith match by car, the scarves were flying out the window and we were passed by with hundreds like us. It was a great sight to see. Everyone was buzzing. Crossing the Tay Bridge must have looked like the Derry were about to invade the Kingdom of Fife with our flags and scarves for all to see, flapping majestically in the wind with their dark blue colours and sun behind us. Magic. The atmosphere was absolutely electric walking up to the park. Every fan sporting a massive smile and song after song was belted out. It's if everyone of our support just knew we would get the result that day and even though those feeling would prove to be true, it was not without any nervous moments. Raith started off the better side and would take the lead after half time when Paul Hartley nipped in to silence the away support. This goal always reminds me of their No.11 Kevin Fotheringham turning around to us behind the goal and giving it the big yin by kissing the badge and shouting what I can only imagine was a ‘get it right up ya’ type comment with maybe a few profanities thrown in. Thankfully, we found our feet and with half an hour to go, an Iain Anderson free-kick was whipped in and Eddie Annand rose to net his thirteenth goal of the season and also the one that would make us champions. It was absolute bedlam in the North Stand when the ball hit the net. Bodies were flying everywhere with the fans letting out years of frustration of having to play in this league with a return to the big time now on the horizon. The last ten minutes were the longest I have ever had to endure but when the final whistle went, it was time for everyone of the 5,000 Dundee fans who had made the trip to Starks Park to start celebrating. The Dee's had done it!