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  1. UWTB1893

    Ex Dee Interview: Ally Donaldson

    Ally had two spells with the club, both combined spanned fourteen and a half years service, a rarity in this day and age. His first spell with the club started in 1961 to 1972 and his second from 1976 to 1980. Ally was deservedly inducted into the Dundee Hall Of Fame in 2016. You moved from Tynecastle Athletic to Dundee in the summer of 1961. How did your move come around? I played for Tynecastle Athletic under age juveniles, under 17, in Edinburgh and trained in Tynecastle school next to Hearts ground. The underage juvenile league was a magnet for talent scouts, as all the best young players played in that league. I had played several senior trials including Dundee and was surprised when Bob Shankly appeared at my home and asked me to sign a provisional form for the club. The next day the Hearts scout appeared at my home wanting my signature. What was it like joining up with a Dundee team that at the time, consisted of players such as Cox, Cousin and Gilzean to name a few? I was called up for season 1961/62 and moved up to Dundee to complete my electrical apprenticeship. I went into Dens every Tuesday for the normal practice match and trained on a Thursday night. We famously clinched our first and only Scottish League Title in your first season with the club. You would still be some bit away from making your debut but what was it like to be around Dens while this was happening? At the start of the League winning season Dundee signed Les Cameron from Arbroath FC as experienced back up for Pat Liney. Les and I shared goalkeeping duties in the reserves in what was to be a memorable season. Even playing against the first team was a tremendous experience and they did not always win. I remember being at Muirton when Dundee clinched the league title and travelling back in the team coach to the reception at the City Chambers. In my second season, Les Cameron was released and Dundee signed Bert Slater from Liverpool. Pat and I shared goalkeeping duties in the reserves and Pat was unfortunate not to get any game time in the European matches, and I thought this was wrong. Your debut would happen in 1964 in the final match of season in the Summer Cup in 1964. The Dee won 5-1 against St Johnstone. Can you tell us how you found out you would be playing and what emotions you went through your head? My debut was indeed the Summer Cup in 1964. I only realised I was to be playing when I saw my name at the top of the team sheet posted in the dressing room. Pat Liney was excellent for giving advice and encouragement but not Bert Slater who treated me like a deadly rival. Of course I was excited and nervous prior to the game, but, once out on Dens Park, my concentration took over. Your next start came in a 6-0 victory against Motherwell in 1964/65 in the last match of the League Cup section. Your first professional clean sheet must have been pretty special? My next game was the 6-0 win over Motherwell in the League Cup, when several of the young player made their debuts. Alex Totten, John Philips, Jocky Scott and Phil Tinney all played. Keeping my first clean sheet was special. That season you would find yourself in the first team on forty occasions, displacing Bert Slater in goal. How did it feel to do lay your claim on the No.1 jersey in such a short space of time? After his heroics in the Scottish Cup Final, Bert Slater had a dip in form and I was given my chance. I then played almost all of the games, missing out on the Cup defeat to St. Johnstone through injury. You also got to sample the delights of European Football a few years later when Dundee played Real Zaragoza in the European Cup Winners Cup. We drew 2-2 at home in the 1st leg but we exited the competition after a 2-1 defeat in Spain. What was the whole experience like, traveling to play in another country in a major European competition despite the falling at the first hurdle? Playing in the European Cup Winners Cup against Zaragoza was a great experience, and we would have won the tie but for several injuries for the home game to key players. Playing in Zaragoza against several Spanish internationalists was a great experience. A 2-1 loss in Spain was not a bad outcome, the damage being done at home. Even though you were the No.1 goalkeeper, John Arrol gave you healthy competition for the position in between the sticks. Was there a friendly rivalry there? With Pat Liney leaving for St Mirren and Bert Slater moving south to Watford, new manager Bobby Ancell signed John Arrol from Clyde as my back up. John and I did goalkeeping work together and there was friendly rivalry between us. Arrol played in the 1967 League Cup Final against Celtic. Were you disappointed that you missed out or did you think he deserved his place in the final due to playing in all but the semi-final in the run up to this game? I had played in the League Cup semi-final against St. Johnstone and the 2-0 defeat prior to the League Cup Final against Celtic, but was dropped for the final without being told. I was very disappointed and angry. You did however play in the Fairs cup quarter finals and then the semi-finals. You came up against possibly the best Leeds United team ever and went toe to toe, narrowly missing out on the final. Naturally you all must have been disappointed but did you feel you should have reached the final? I managed to regain my place and played in the return game against DWS Amsterdam, FC Zurich and Leeds United in the Fairs Cities Cup, and were unlucky to lose out in the Semi Final. Your last game in your first spell at the club was in a 3-0 defeat away to AC Milan in the UEFA Cup. A dispute with John Prentice meant your time at Dens was up. Can you shed any light on what happened? I was injured for the early rounds of the UEFA Cup. I played against Cologne twice and the first game against AC Milan, but was dropped for the second game at home. My dispute was really with the club and not the manager, but I felt he was sympathetic to my claim. At that time 10 years’ service was rewarded with a benefit payment of £750 less tax for first team players and £500 less tax for reserve team players, but was not compulsory. Soon after John Prentice left and was replaced by Davie White. At that time Mike Hewitt had taken my place and Thomson Allan was signed. Falkirk was your next club but I believe you were all set to join the Police? Dundee would not pay me anything so I threatened to join the Police. I had passed the entrance exam and was due to go to Police training college, when I received a phone call from a well-known journalist telling me Celtic wanted to sign me. I returned to training but the Celtic offer of £14,000 was rejected and Jock Stein then signed Dennis Connaghen from St Mirren. I was transferred to Falkirk but as I still lived in the area, I started training with the (Dundee) part timers. Davie White would bring you back to Dens in 1976. Did you have any hesitation in coming back? I had no hesitation returning, as I was still living in the area. I asked if I could train on my own at lunch times (at Dens Park) and after a while Hugh Robertson, George Blues and the coaches asked me if I would like some goalkeeping work. They obviously put a good word in for me to Davie White as he bought me back as back up for Thomson Allan as Mike Hewitt had left the club. Following a poor spell, I managed to get back into the team and kept my place until I was injured. I missed several games but regained my place once I was fit. After Winning the first Divison in 79/80, the following season would be your last with Dundee. I think this had to do with a fall-out with new manager Donal McKay after Tommy Gemmell had left the club? Davie White was replaced by Tommy Gemmell and after a couple of seasons we won the First Division. After being relegated Tommy Gemmell was replaced by Don McKay. But I did not connect with him from day one because of his attitude to the senior players. Following my testimonial match I took overs Hotel in Carnoustie and I could not agree a suitable compromise, so my Dundee career ended. Before you left Dundee for the last time, you were awarded a testimonial against Dundee United. It’s not often players rack up enough years to be awarded one so this must have been a great feeling to be awarded your day after your time with the club? I received a Testimonial game having been with the club for fourteen and a half years and playing over 400 league games. I also played a number of Forfarshire cup matches, Dewar Shield matches and various other matches eg Texaco Cup. As you say not many players are honoured in this way, Bobby Wilson was rewarded for his longevity, and I am sure there are more. You sit proudly in seventh place of the all-time appearances for Dundee with an amazing 408 appearances and hold the club record of 126 clean sheets. A proud achievement no doubt, especially since your clean sheet record will remain a record for a very long time? The modern contract system only allows for players to stay short periods of time at any club whereas in my era once you signed a contract you could be retained for evermore. All the club had to do was retain you once the contract expired on the same terms as you were on, and you could do nothing about it. It was modern slavery and the Bosman ruling changed that. You played under Bob Shankly, Sammy Kean, Bobby Ancell, John Prentice, Davie White, Tommy Gemmell and Donald McKay. Who had the biggest influence on your career? The biggest influences in my career was Bob Shankly for giving me my break and the help from coaches Robertson and Blues for the lunch time goalkeeping training, which made me a better goalkeeper in my second spell at Dens. Your must have plenty of good memories but which ones stand out the most for yourself? My outstanding memories were playing for my country twice at under 23 level and twice for the Scottish League, plus all the European matches and beating Celtic 5-1. Over the years you have played with some of the best players Dundee have ever had. From Alan Cousin, Andy Penman to Jocky Scott. Which players did you enjoy playing with the most and which ones had an influence on your career? Playing with great players like Alan Gilzean, Alex Hamilton, Andy Penman, Charlie Cooke, Jocky Scott, Gordon Wallace, Gordon Strachan and many more was a great pleasure. Ally, I would like to say a massive thank you for taking the time out to answer these questions. It’s been an absolute pleasure to speak to someone who has such a rich history with the club and one who can say proudly they hold a club record. We wish you all the best! MON THE DEE!
  2. UWTB1893

    Ex Dee Interview: Patrizio Billio

    Initially signed in November 1999 by Jocky Scott, Billio's career got off to a flyer with Dundee which resulted in the midfielder putting pen to paper on a new three-year deal. However, his stay at Dens would turn sour when he fell out of favour with the new management team of Ivano and Dario Bonetti and would later be allegedly assaulted outside the ground in January 2002 - the men who were arrested were acquitted of all charges. Despite this controversy, Billio found himself back in Dundee in October 2012 when AC Milan visited the club to give a two-day course to look at new and innovative ideas that Dundee hoped would help the club and it's youth system. He was then further invited back by director Steve Martin and general manager Jim Thomson when Dundee took on Manchester City in a pre-season friendly in 2014. In total, Patrizio played 28 times in the Dark Blues, scoring twice with both coming against Motherwell. Despite everything that went down during his time with Dundee, Billio never let that get in the way as he played a key role in the link up with both clubs back in 2012 and still speaks highly of the club and also the support. Patrizio, you started your career off at AC Milan. What was it like coming through the ranks at such a world-renowned club? I believe your team was also known as ‘La Primavera Miliardaria? I started my career as a professional in the 1991/1992 season, when I was bought by Milan, for an important amount from Calcio Montebelluna at the age of 16. For 3 years I played in Milan's Youth Team and I trained periodically with the first team, playing some friendly matches with Maldini, Donadoni, Baresi, Ancelotti, Costacurta, Boban, Van Basten, Gullit, Galli. I have beautiful memories of my early career, where I was able to learn things from a technical/tactical/relational point of view thanks to the support of coaches, such as Sacchi, Capella, Viscidi. You were loaned out to various clubs in Italy in the early part of your career. What did you learn from your time with AC Milan? I was loaned by the Sports Director of the time, Ariedo Braida, to "make my bones", as they say in the football slang, in several Italian teams for various sports seasons. Your first club in the UK was with Crystal Palace. What was it like leaving your home country to then live in London? My first club in the UK, the Crystal Palace in the 1997/1998 season, where I was able to compare myself with a more physical and less tactical football, essential for my professional growth. I was one of the first footballers to emigrate to the UK and for this I could call myself a pioneer of Italian football. What was the reason behind your short stay with Crystal Palace? After Crystal Palace I had the chance to go to Newcastle, at the time coached by (Kenny) Dalglish, but at the end despite having a rough agreement, everything went wrong. You joined Dundee in 1999 when Jocky Scott was the manager. How did your transfer to Dundee happen? Did you ever speak to Jocky before signing? In the same season thanks to an intermediary, I landed at Dundee FC where I found an excellent Manager and Director, Jocky Scott. My first season was very satisfying, having a good relationship with the club (Jim Thompson in the first place), the Manager and with the fantastic support of the Dundee fans. Your early performances were rewarded with the offer of a 3-year contract. Was this an easy decision to make? Renewing my existing 18-month contract, for an additional 3-year contract, was automatic, especially at a time of importance for Scottish football, with Rangers (Amoruso, Negri, Gattuso, Annoni) and the much-fortified Celtic. Jocky’s contract wouldn’t be renewed and in came fellow Italians Ivano and Dario Bonetti. Were you happy to see your fellow countrymen take charge of Dundee? In the 2000/2001 season in place of Scott, Ivano Bonetti arrived and Dundee bought many strong players (Caniggia to name one) with the aim of being able to undermine the leaderships of the two teams of Glasgow. Just as quickly as you had signed a new deal, you and Marco De Marchi found yourselves out of the first team. Two weeks after your last game you were training alone and basically your Dundee career was over. Was there ever any explanation why the management team banished you out of the first team? You spent around 22 months on the side-lines at Dens Park and were unfortunately assaulted outside the ground. How much did this affect your career? Honestly, our start was excellent, I scored the first goal of the Scottish Premier league and we all worked for the success of this project. Then without any explanation I was a victim of Mobbing. This happened when I was out of the stadium after finishing a training and when I was in the company of Marco de Marchi. The story was big news with newspapers and television, it was talked about for days. Obviously this experience has affected myself in both a personal and sports capacity, but I keep positive memories of the support received from players, leaders of the time, fans of the Dundee and especially the lawyers Minghetti and Chris Farnell. You stayed in Scotland after your release and signed for Aberdeen for 6 months? Was this because you wanted to stay in Scotland? After leaving Dundee FC I landed in Aberdeen to continue with the Scottish football that I had fallen in love with. In the same sports season, I chose to return to Italy with Livorno, where I had Donadoni as Manager and Marco Negri as team-mate. I decided to return to Italy, declining the possibility to stop with Haiduk Split, a club proposed by Chris Farnell, an English lawyer, to resume at the same time a university career. After that you returned to Italy and that’s where you retired form Football. You are back with your first club AC Milan now. What is your role now with them? I am currently very pleased to be part of the Mondo Calcio school project and to work for a glorious company like Milan. I graduated in Sports Management with a sports address at the Catholic University of Milan and I was lucky enough to play professional up to 37 years. Now I live in Kuwait, where I run a Milan football school for children aged 5 to 18, this activity engages me every day but at the same time pleases me. There were rumours of an AC Milan-Dundee FC link it, with yourself stated you would have loved to set up a Milan academy in Dundee. What happened with these plans? I confirm the Rumours that Dundee are interested in deepening relations with Milan and should do the necessary steps to make the best decisions. Finally, are you on good terms with Dundee after coming back a few years ago, despite everything that had happened? My relationship with Dundee F.C and their fans is excellent and this interview is proof of this. I keep beautiful memories of all the fans and one day I hope to be the Dundee Manager.
  3. UWTB1893

    Ex Dee Interview: Gary Irvine

    Joining from St Johnstone in the summer of 2010, Irvine would play a part in our Dee-fiant season that nearly seen the club disappear only for everyone to pull together and ensure our survival. He would then be part of 'Club 12' that saw us promoted to the Premiership a week before the big kick off and Irvine would also play a major part in our Championship winning squad of 2014 before departing for St Mirren in 2016. Ladies and gentleman, I give to you our next Ex Dee Interview with Gary Irvine. Q. I believe you came through the youth ranks at Celtic and I also believe your also a supporter of the Glasgow club. How did that feel, pulling on the top of the club you have supported as a young lad? If I’m being honest, I actually grew up an Aberdeen/Dundee fan. I followed my Uncle Brian wherever he played, and me and my granda never missed a match. The change to supporting Celtic came because I was on Celtics books from a young age of 12 years old. So, I came through the whole youth system at that time, all the way until 16 years old, and left school to go full time. I managed to progress to the first team squad at the age of 20 and yes it was an amazing feeling to progress to that level and get involved in a few preseason trips and matches and play for Celtic. As I’ve played throughout my career, I’ve always supported the team I play for, but I would say the first score I check every weekend is The Dees now. Q. You secured a loan move at the start of the 2006-07 season to Ross County. From the bright lights of Glasgow to the Highlands is a big mover regardless of your age but was this a move that you wanted or did Celtic have the final say? My loan was something that Celtic wanted for me. I was at an age where I had done a few years of developing in full time, playing 18s, 19s, Reserve football and also involvement in the 1st team pre-season trips to London and America for a couple seasons. So, the next step for me was to get myself out and experience 1st team football week in, week out. It was a great experience up in Dingwall, me and Wee Midge (Michael) Gardyne were loaned together, so to have him with me was good. We were given a house to look after ourselves in, so it was a great experience for both of us, the football side and off the park side of things. It made us grew up quick. Q. County would be relegated after finishing bottom of the First Division but there was some success with County that year. You played every minute as Ross County won the Challenge Cup on penalties against Clyde. You even slotted home one of the penalties in the shoot-out. What was it like picking up your first winners medal and being part of the team that won the competition but also suffering relegation? The playing side of that season on loan was tough, but good! I loved the first team dressing room and challenges that my loan gave me and of course winning a trophy. That day was amazing. It was a hard fought game that went to penalties and I was lucky enough to slot one away (very nervously struck it into a top corner) but my loan was only 6 months and I didn't actually experience the relegation, even though I was gutted for County. I went back to Celtic in January, this was a decision that I made this time. County wanted to keep me and as much as I loved lifting the challenge cup and playing every week and doing well, I felt there was a chance to go back to Celtic and challenge for a place in the Celtic squad as they had picked up a couple injuries in my position. Q. In 2007 you were on the move again but on a permanent basis with St Johnstone. Was it good to eventually be settled with a club instead of fearing you may be put out on loan at any-time? It was a very hard decision for me to leave Celtic. I still had two years left on my contract and St Johnstone came in and offered to sign me. A lot of people would say I was daft to walk away from a contract at Celtic but the experience and feelings I gained from my loan spell at County made my mind up that's what was best for me and the stage I was at in my career. I was 21 I couldn't sit around any longer, I had to get my career going now. I signed a 2-year deal and I loved working with Owen Coyle and then Derek McInnes at St Johnstone. Q. That year you managed repeat your heroics of the previous season by lifting the Challenge Cup with the Saints after a 3-2 win over Dunfermline. Despite not being a major cup competition, it was the first ever cup that St Johnstone had ever won. How did it feel to be part of that? My first season at St Johnstone was brilliant. I was playing really well and enjoying my football and another Challenge Cup with another team back to back was something special for me. I’m still proud of that, especially being St Johnstone’s first trophy as well. I had a good winning mentality from a young age coming through Celtic. I’ve got a league winners medal for every age group that I played at so the fact my career had started with two medals as well in the challenge cup made me very happy and proud that I had made the decision to sign for St Johnstone. Q. The following season seen another medal in your cabinet when St Johnstone won the old First Division. I think you missed one game in the league all season and played a major role in putting them back in the Premiership. From relegation with County to Champions with St Johnstone in a few years must have felt good? Like I said previous, I was fortunate throughout my development and start of my career to pick up winners medal every season, so I believe that stood me in good stead for the rest of my career and It worked out that way when we managed to win the League the following season. I managed to play a big part in that season, only missing one game, and I managed to score my first senior goal that season as well (I still go onto YouTube and watch it, Messi would've been proud of this one!). That squad was a brilliant squad of boys, experience, young talent, good footballers, very close. We had a great dressing room that helped us win that league. Q. The next season in the Premier, you missed out on the bulk of the first half of the season. Was this because of injury or had you fallen down the pecking order? Yes, I signed again for another season in the Premier League. I signed a year deal, even though St Johnstone offered two (agents promising moves to England!), but that Pre-season I choose to get a tidy up operation on my ankle as I wanted to have a good go at the Premier League injury free and that ankle/Achilles was something that had been starting to bother me. So, I got the op and it took longer for me to come back from it. I missed the start of the season and then kept breaking down with it and if I’m being honest, it took me most of the season to get back to playing at the standards I knew I could. Q. The summer of 2010 seen you released by St Johnstone and then snapped up by Dundee on a one-year deal who were managed by Gordon Chisholm. Everyone has a story on how they signed for the Dee. What’s yours? So yes, I left St Johnstone and that Pre-season was tough because the agents that I mentioned briefly before now had went very quiet on me for a reason I’m still not sure of and I actually done my deal to Dundee myself. I had heard whispers that Dundee where interested (From Harkins, my best mate), but I never had an agent to negotiate or talk to clubs for me so I actually got a call directly from Billy Dodds asking if I’d be interested in signing. So obviously I went up and trained a couple days, then done the deal with Gordon Chisholm myself. Q. You targeted a quick return to the top flight but in October of 2010, that was shattered when Dundee announced they were to enter administration for the second time. Were there ever any hints from within Dens that it was all fallen apart in the boardroom? Signing for Dundee was a big thing for me. I was delighted to get the deal done and it was something that was close to my family having grew up following them as a young boy but that joy quickly turned to worry and devastation for what happened to the squad as players we were only finding out the same as everyone else, maybe hearing slightly before like in the morning before it was official released that the club was struggling and were getting the administrators in. Q. Many players and staff members lost their jobs as the cut backs started happening to try and save the club. It must have been horrific to witness this? When the day came for the administrator to talk to the players and staff of the club, it was one of my worst experiences in my career. We were told to sit in the home dressing room and we got individually called into the boardroom with the administrator and the chief executive to either get told if you were released or staying. The nerves waiting to hear if you had a future or not was horrible. It was equally horrible being one of the players that got asked to stay on as well and walk back through to a dressing where players were still waiting to know their fate and some that had already been told they were released and you were coming through and saying I’ve been kept. It was a horrible and emotional experience for everyone! Q. The management team of Chisholm and Dodds was replaced by the rookie Barry Smith. With everything happening around the club, how did the players react to Smith taking over? The remaining players were totally fine with Baz taking over. Baz was always around the club and the dressing room before the administration because he was coaching the U20s full time, so everyone got on well with him. We all knew how hard a situation it was and we knew we were the fortunate ones that still had a job and money coming in. We just had to knuckle down and stick together through the points deduction and the cut backs that club had to make to try and survive, because even though we were kept on, there was still the rumours that the club wasn’t going to survive past January I think it was. Q. We were also hit with a massive twenty-five-point deduction along with a transfer embargo. The points deduction must have been deflating for the squad considering it put us bottom of the league on minus eleven, twenty points behind the nearest team Morton? The 25points was unbelievable. We were very angry about it but still couldn’t do anything. I can’t remember previous club’s punishments, but I think 25-points was the highest ever issued. But like I said previous, we just had to knuckle down and try stick together and keep upbeat and do the best we could with what we had. But what we did have was a very good side. The chief executive and administrator obviously sat down and picked a squad of about 15 players that they thought could still compete and give ourselves a wee chance of survival. In my opinion, they picked a small squad but it was the best in the league. The quality we had from the remaining ones was unbelievable. Top players but most importantly it was the right type that knew what had to be done to try save the club on the park! Q. What happened next was quite remarkable. The administrator gave us a 50/50 chance of surviving past Christmas never mind making it to the end of the season. On the pitch though, results started to pick up and in the stands, the fans turned up in numbers and gave a backing that many probably haven’t witnessed at the ground before. Every home game was met with waves of encouragement rather than moans if a pass went astray or a goal was conceded. How much did this help the players who were sometime running on empty and or even carrying injuries? When we started to hear positive things coming out in the papers and from the staff around the place every day, it obviously gave us players a lift as well but we were all that focused on what we had to do anyway. We had been in great form, digging out unbelievable results every week with our small squad and one of the main things I remember about that season and time was our home games. The number of fans that turned up every week to give us support and encouragement was amazing. Everything was encouragement, praise and optimism and that rubbed off on us out there on the pitch because we knew we had a massive backing that believed in us! Q. The team then went on a twenty-three-match unbeaten run, smashing the previous record set by the 1962 League winning team. Did you ever bump into any members of that ’62 team and if you did, what did they have to say about this achievement? The record we set with unbeaten games was unbelievable really. To do it under the circumstances, tiny squad, trialists playing for games to help, players coming out of retirement to help, it should be made into a movie. It’s a great achievement and something I’m very proud to tell people about. I used to love speaking with Pat Liney during my time at Dens, and I’m sure we would’ve had a conversation about the record at some point. Pat loves the club and is always about the place and to hear all his playing day stories was always something I enjoyed. Q. The administrator managed to secure a CVA as the club battled back from the brink and along with the teams outstanding run, survival was secured off the field. That campaign was named the Dee-Fiant season. What memories stick out the most from that period, good or bad? The Dee-Fiant season is my greatest achievement. Even though we’ve spoke about trophies and leagues that I’ve won, this is my biggest achievement! Under the circumstances and positions, we were put in and the way we fought back is something I’m so proud of. I could speak about hundreds of highs about that season and lows but looking back at it now and obviously staying at the club and going through so much more with them and getting a real love and passion for the club, I feel so proud that I played a massive part in its survival. So that’s the HIGH of my career not just from that season! Q. The following year we finished second in the league with Ross County easily winning the Division. We then started building on what we had and in my eyes, a team that could win the title. Then with weeks to go until the start of the campaign, we took Rangers place after they were liquidated. As exciting as it should have been to play in the top flight, did you think we were vastly unprepared? The following year was a season I enjoyed, we finished second, played well and I was rewarded with the player of the year awards, think it was 15 in total. Again, that’s something I’m very proud of. I was buzzing to get straight back into the new season again and I agree we strengthened again after a good season. We signed good players that would’ve set us up to compete for the Division One again but the situation we found ourselves in was surreal. We were actually coming to the end of our pre-season trip down in Kendall and we were due to start our season in a week or so and then everything happened to Rangers and our whole plans had to get scrapped as we were now in the Premier League with two weeks preparation I think it was. Instead of preparing for a Division 1 game, we were going to Rugby Park to play Killie in the Premier League. The club tried their best to get players in quick to try strengthening for the Premier League but it was so difficult to get the right ones in at such short notice. There would’ve been little scouting, I’d imagine it was “right we have a few weeks, who’s available, and who’s going to help us compete in the Premier League!” Q. It was a hard time for us in the Premiership and it eventually cost Barry Smith his job and he was replaced with John Brown. As much as I did hope we could beat the drop, it was always going to be a thankless task. What was your views on Smith’s departure and Browns appointment? I personally think it was so harsh on Barry Smith and didn’t agree with it. I was gutted as I had struck up a good relationship with Smith and enjoyed working with him and he showed a lot of faith in me, giving me the captaincy a lot. So, I personally felt I’d let him down. As players, we were trying our best and the circumstances made it so hard for us to hit the ground running really, plus trying to gel with even more new players coming in throughout the season to try give us a chance, It was such a hard task he had and I think he should’ve been shown a lot more support and understanding and given the full season. Q. So it was straight back down for Dundee despite a late revival near the end. We would welcome new owners in the summer and the team seemed set up to go straight back up. Was this the goal set out by the new owners and Brown? The following season, it was clear to everyone that immediate promotion was our goal. A large amount of that squad stayed plus good experienced players were added so the club showed their intent to go straight back up. Q. You signed a new deal with the club despite interest from a few Premiership clubs. What made you turn them down to stay at Dens and what teams had shown interest in you? I eventually got my deal done, as I had other offers that summer from Ross County and Mansfield and supposedly Hibs we’re keen also. Ross County actually made it very hard for me. The deal they offered was very good, a lot more than what I signed at Dundee for, but my head and heart was happy where I was and that was that. Q. We did endure a sluggish start but we eventually got going and were right in the mix of it. A few results went against us and there was to be yet another managerial change. This time it was Brown out and Paul Hartley in. Much like a few questions before hand, what was your views on this change? We had a very strong squad for this season and the majority of the season we done well. As always though, the New Championship/Division 1 proved to be a tough season. Q. There were a few nervy moments when it seemed that we had throwing it away but come the last day of the season against Dumbarton, we were in pole position. What was the week leading up to that match like, especially after coming off the Alloa match? I think we got ourselves in front and had a little points cushion between Hamilton but we had a period where our results allowed Hamilton to claw it back and that’s when the decision was made to replace Brown. Hartley came in and I do believe it was the correct decision and correct time. I was also pleased that the change happened if I’m being honest because since Brown came in I never performed to the levels I had previous and it’s something that still annoys me to this day that I let him down a bit. I played nearly all his games in charge and I’m forever grateful for that but I wish I performed better for him because as soon as Hartley came in, my performances went back up and I was back enjoying it again. You see it in football all the time, some players perform completely different under different managers. I could probably say the same for a good few of the boys that season actually. Our performances picked back up at the right time which seen us through to the end to eventually win the league. Q. So it came down to this. A win would secure the title and even a draw would be enough considering our goal difference being superior to Hamilton. When did you first hear that the Accies had been hammering the goals past Morton to make it a must win for us? The Dumbarton game was such a good game to be involved in. We never once thought about Hamilton clawing back the goals in which they did. All we thought about was going out and winning the match. It was a nervy game but we scored a couple good goals, I was pleased to assist Peasos goal that day, but at no stage during the game did we ever know what Hamilton were doing to Morton and how tight things where getting. Q. We were two-nil up and cruising but then conceded after Dumbarton were giving a penalty. Did the nerves start kicking in? The last 10 minutes were so nervy. Dumbarton were having a right go and the cross and header from the Prunty chance which ended in the best save I’ve seen a keeper make in my career, especially in the circumstances from big Kyle, was unbelievable. It was like slow motion which is my memory of it, like a ‘Banks’ for England kind of save when it’s actually past him and he still managed to dive backwards and claw it away. Q. Kyle Letheren pulled of a world class save at the end, all our hearts skipped a beat and then the full-time whistle went. It was celebration time. How did it feel to win the Championship? It was amazing! Q. We started off life in the Premiership well, surprising even our fans I think with a Top 6 finish. Yes, back to the Premiership, and Hartley made big changes to the squad bringing in good experiences players. We started well and the squad had a very good feel about it. I actually think that squad should have remained together a lot longer than it did. To achieve Top 6 on the first season promoted and show some very good performances and consistency was something that could’ve been built on. Q. We then went eight games undefeated after that match which seen us pick up five wins and three draws. You on the other hand started to be a bit prolific in front of goal. As a defender, scoring isn’t a regular thing to do unless your Roberto Carlos. What was it like to break the mould and get a few goal bonuses under the belt? Yeah, I managed to hit good form and get on the score sheet. Think I was 4 goals in 5-6 games. It was weird, I was going into games with a feeling I was going to score every match. Confidence was so high and I think because I was switching between right and left back during that period it made the feeling of scoring goals even better. Two with my left and two with my right. Its an easy task that ‘sticking the ball in the net’ I used to say to all the strikers to get a bite. Q. A knee injury side-lined you’re for most of the remaining games. How frustrating was it to sit so much of the season out considering how well we had been doing? The knee injury was so frustrating. It came at a time when I was on such a high and so was the team and for it to be such a freak accident, it was actually Thomas Konrad that landed on my knee and I damaged my Ligaments, I knew it was bad as soon as I got up. I had usually ploughed through most injuries throughout my career, but this was a feeling I couldn’t get by with, my knee felt so loose and unstable. I had to come off and it kept me out for ten weeks I think it was. Q. Hartley was never shy with his summer signings and in 2015 more new faces were being brought in. You found yourself on the bench most of the start of the year. Did you know your time was up at Dens? Yes, another pre-season and a lot of new faces again. The squad was big and there was 2-3 players to most positions. The season before I played a lot at left back so a natural left back in Kevin Holt was brought in, which was fair enough and yes, I found myself in and out the team as the manager tried to suss out his best 11. It was when the season was creeping towards Christmas time that I was getting frustrated not playing every week. Throughout my career I’ve always played a big part in teams and managed to play most games in a season, so as much as I hated the thought of leaving Dens, I knew the feeling I had was that I wanted to go get Football every week and play a big part for a team somewhere. Q. It was a sad day when it was announced that you were leaving Dundee. You were the last member of the Dee-fiant team to exit the doors at Dens. Harkins may have still been in the squad but he left and came back while you stayed. What was your feelings about leaving? When I heard St Mirren had phoned and enquired about me, Hartley and Dundee actually said they were happy with me and wanted to keep me but he understood my frustration, and also the security that St Mirren were potentially going to offer me. A 2.5-year deal was offered and that was hard to turn down. A good club, with a great set up and 30mins from my home, so as much as it was very hard decision for me to leave Dens after everything I had been through with them, St Mirren was a good option for me. Q. Dundee announced you were leaving and then an hour or so later, you were a St Mirren player. It would seem like the club had basically told you if you find a club, you were free to leave? Like I said previous, it was actually St. Mirren (Alex Rae) that had phoned and enquired about me. It happened very quick right enough. I think it was all done within a week because I think St Mirren were short of defensive players and needed me in, so I had a few days to think about things, then agreed towards the end of that week. Q. Last year must have been a rollercoaster for you after looking dead and buried for most of the season to finishing seventh on goal difference. Can you explain the Jekyll and Hyde season that put the fans through the ringer? Last season was so tough, we got off to the worst start ever. Obviously, the new manager came in and we still struggled all the way up till January time. The manager obviously made a lot of changes, 5-6 players were brought in and a few went out as well. We eventually got going and the finish to the season we had was amazing. We reached the final of the challenge cup just to lose out to United and then to secure our position in the championship for the next season, going all the way to the last game against Hibs at Easter Road was amazing. I think it was 10 maybe even 12 points we were behind going into the final third of the season. We got a lot of plaudits that last part of the season. We were written off by everyone and we kept grinding out results against the top of the table teams. United, Hibs, Morton and even our performance against Celtic on Sky brought us great confidence as we were one of the few teams last season that gave Celtic a scare and gave them a good match, Brendan Rodgers words! Q. This season you have started off strong and look impressive. What’s the aim for this term? Minimum of fourth place or challenging for the title? This season we’ve started brilliant and got ourselves to the top of the table. It’s going to be hard work to stay there now but we’ve got a good squad and I think we’ll be up there challenging come the end of the season. That was our aim at the start of the season and the manager has made that clear as well, promotion. Q. Coming back to Dundee, you must have a few stories after spending many a year with us. Did you ever find your shoes nailed to the floor, suit cut in pieces or Gary Harkins just being Gary Harkins towards you? Jeebs (Gary Harkins) is my mate in football and we were always kind to each other I suppose. Probably because we knew if a prank got done, there would be a definite retaliation from each of us and then it would be never ending, no one wanting to back down. A story about me and him that we used to have banter about would be all through our careers we kept count of the amount of nutmegs on each other. Mainly games against each other and training ones as well. We used to like bragging rights to that. I used to have the upper hand believe it or not but I’d say the last few seasons he’s clawed it back and took over. He’s megged me a few decent ones that I’m raging about! Q. You found yourself nicknamed the ‘Whit Cafu’ by Dundee fans and there was even a flag made up in your honour by the Big Rabbie D’s Supporters group. Did your teammates ever acknowledge the nickname in training? The White Cafu, I loved the nickname and so proud of it. I used to love seeing the flag every game and I’m very thankful to The Big Rabbie D’s Supporters Club. I still keep in touch with Big Gary and Wendy Knight via social media and love catching up with them when I go back to Dens for games. They actually presented me with the flag when I left because they knew how much I loved it. It was after St Mirren went to Dens in the cup and it was actually on show in the stand for that game, even though I was playing for St Mirren. I even heard my song during the game from the Derry, another proud moment and great memory for me. The flag was presented to me after the final whistle. It was my first time back playing against Dundee and I got a great reception afterwards, even though we beat Dundee and the Dundee fans still clapped and cheered for me as I went and got the flag from Gary Knight. If I’m honest I was emotional and it was an amazing gesture from everyone so Thank You! The flag is now proudly in my (man cave) football room at home. Q. Your time at Dens was never boring. From administration, to being club 12, to relegation, becoming captain, to winning the league followed by mimicking Ronaldo for a few weeks. You were always an important member of the team and will also be remembered for being an integral member of the 2010-11 squad and the Championship winning team. How will you remember your time at Dens? My time at Dens is the highlight of my career. I class myself as a Dundee fan and I still love the club. I went through so much with them, nearly everything you could experience in football, highs and lows. I followed in my uncle’s footsteps, from watching him and supporting Dundee as a young boy with my Granda, to playing just shy of 200 times, winning POTY awards, winning leagues. Playing and captaining in top flight football is something I’ll always be proud of and hopefully one day I’ll be back at Dens in some way to continue my journey
  4. UWTB1893

    Ex Dee Interview: Jim McAlister

    A Dens Park favourite with the fans, Jim McAlister hit the headlines a few times while at the club from delivering an RKO out of no where to having Nadir Cifti's teeth in his leg. It would be his performances in the middle of the park though which would gain him the affections of the fans with his never say die attitude and work rate. McAlister made 124 appearances, scoring thirteen goals for the Dark Blues in all competitions. He also captured a Championship winners medal while with the club as the team won promotion to the Premiership thanks to a 2-1 win over Dumbarton on the last day of the season at a packed Dens Park. Your career started off with Morton, making your debut at the tender age of 17. What was it like to make your breakthrough so early? It was probably a good club to start at because they were in the bottom league in Scotland, pushing for promotion. I came straight out of school and into the first-team so didn’t have time to think about it. It was sink or swim and thankfully I managed to make a few appearances between Christmas when I signed and the end of the season. I adapted to it well, I was tossed in at the deep end but had good pros around me to look after me. I started two games and came off the bench seven or eight times, and after wasting my time at school, I couldn’t have envisaged it turning out like it did. In eight years, you made over 200 appearances and earned the nickname ‘Jimaldinho’ after the Ton fans compared some of your performances to Brazilian Ronaldinho. What were some of your best moments while at Cappielow? First of all, I had to laugh when I was given that nickname. It was back in the day when I was left winger. Winning the league six months after joining was great, but I obviously didn’t play as bigger part as some. Then three years later the club was desperate to get promoted to the First Division and we managed to do that, and I played every minute of every game, so felt I’d played my part fully. We beat Kilmarnock when we were in Division Two in the Scottish Cup and also knocked out Gretna when they were in the SPL and I managed to score that day. You were once invited have a trial with then Romanian Champions Unirea Urziceni after impressing their manager Dan Petrescu in a 3-1 defeat in pre-season. Instead you chose to head to Watford. How hard was it to turn them down and do you regret not going there as you could have been playing Champions League football? It’s certainly one of my biggest regrets. I was talked out of it by my agent at the time, who thought it would be a better idea to go down to Watford for five days, which was an absolute waste of time. We played an amateur team and won 16-0 and I actually only trained for one day of the five. Ever since then I’ve not really had any trust in any agent, because if my memory served me right, the Romanian team’s Champions League group included Rangers, Sevilla and Stuttgart and they had nights which would have been an unbelievable experience. You broke your foot against Queen of the South in January 2010 and then were released by Morton at the end of that season. How did it feel to leave Morton after being with them so long? I feel I was at Morton two or three years longer than I should have been. I felt about around 2006 I was ready to step up to the next level but ended up staying another couple of seasons and ended up going a bit stale. Coming to the end of the 2010 season, there was another three-year deal on the table to stay but I felt it was the right time to try my hand in the SPL with Hamilton, but left Morton with great memories and nearly 300 games under my belt, which stood me in the stead for my future career. You then spent two years with Hamilton before signing for Barry Smith’s ‘Club 12’ Dundee side. How did your move to Dens Park occur? The move came about late in the day. There was only about three days to go until the new season and I heard of interest. When it was confirmed Dundee replaced Rangers in the SPL it was a no-brainer for me. I only signed on the Friday afternoon and met my new team mates at pre-match on the Saturday. I then started the first game at Kilmarnock having not trained with my new team, which was a bit bizarre, but we ended up getting a 0-0 draw and the longer the game went on, the more comfortable I felt. I had played with Barry at Morton so had a decent relationship with him already and knew the kind of guy he was, so that had a big factor in my decision. We were invited to play in the Premier with only weeks until the start of the season. Was there a feeling that the team were unprepared for the step up? If we’re honest, there probably was a feeling, but as a group of players we believed we were good enough to stay up. Once the club got the news they tried their best to recruit players suitable for the SPL and what probably killed us was the start to the season. If we’d have got off to a good start confidence would have grown and we could have built on it. However, from the start of the season we were always looking up at teams and came too far cut adrift, leaving ourselves with too much to do at the end of the season. Barry Smith was relieved of his manager duties and then in a shock appointment, John Brown was named Dundee manager. This did not go down well with the fans who thought someone with a more proven track record should have been given the job. What was the reactions of the players? The players were very surprised, it was a random appointment, but he got a good reaction from the players, they respected what he had done in his career and probably didn’t get the credit he deserved for his tactical awareness. People saw him as a manager who’d motivate players and get them fired up, but he changed our formation for the final two months and we gave it a right good go at staying up. We picked up some good results under Bomber. Results surprisingly improved under Brown and even though we put up a late fight, we would be relegated. How hard was that to take? It was extremely hard to take, especially when we started picking up positive results and we had the chance of pulling off a miracle. Looking at the table in January, you’d have thought we’d have been relegated by March, but the new manager came in and got a good reaction. In the end, we were unfortunate not to take it to the final game, we thought St Mirren had crumbled, it was just unfortunate we couldn’t keep on getting wins. The next season seen new owners take over the club and Brown adding new players for our assault on the new look Championship. Was there a different vibe around the club? I think the vibes were that everyone was desperate to get back to where we were, the lads had a taste of the SPL and wanted more. Bomber had recruited well, bringing in Gavin Rae, and he was experienced and installed as captain. We started the season well, there was a burning desire to get the club back to the SPL, especially with the new owners. It was a good time to be at the club, after the doom and gloom of the previous seasons. In the middle of that season, we saw another managerial change at Dundee. John Brown left the club with Paul Hartley taking his spot. Did this change in personal shock the players? It did shock us because if we weren’t top of the league we were second and close by, and the manager had been sacked. He had led us well over the first half of the season and nobody could see it coming. I don’t know if the board felt the players needed a new injection, and a change of manager was what needed to happen. Like every club, a new manager always gets a reaction out of the players and that happened then, they boys reacted well. We would make an instant return to the Premiership but it proved to be a nervy finish. The league looked all but lost after defeat to Morton but the week after, Hamilton surprisingly lost while we went back top after a win at Alloa. Did you think the League was gone after Morton and what was the dressing room like after the Alloa match? That summed up the season. One week we thought the league was won and then a result like Morton would happen and you’d think it was all lost. Then it was flipped the next week. I’ve never known a season like it for ups and downs, but our main aim was to have it in our own hands on the final day and Dumbarton did us a favour, beating Hamilton, and we did the job at Alloa, taking it to the final day of the season. Everyone was buzzing in the dressing room after Alloa because it was in our hands, but we had to stay calm because we still had a difficult game. It was going to be a sell-out crowd and, being part-time, we’d have been expected to win comfortably, but there was an element of calmness because nothing had been won. We filled out all four sides of Dens Park for the last game of the season and the title was ours after a 2-1 win over Dumbarton. Hamilton tried their best to gate crash the party but we held out. Can you describe the feeling of that day and what it meant to win the Championship? The feeling before the game was obviously nervy, walking out, seeing the place full. The atmosphere was unbelievable and big Christian scored early on to settle us down and the second goal followed quickly after. As the game went on Dumbarton got back into it with a penalty and we made a substitution with ten minutes to go and we thought a draw would win the league. The substitute told us Hamilton were winning 9-2, which meant if Dumbarton equalised and Hamilton scored again we’d lose the title, so the last ten minutes were the most nerve-wrecking experience I’ve had on the football field. To hear the final whistle and the pitch to be invaded by fans, it was the most incredible experience I’ve had in football. On the team trip to Ibiza, some of the players were quite active on Twitter towards Hamilton. Namely Conroy and Boyle. What did you make of it? I wasn’t actually in Ibiza with them, but was getting sent screenshots of the Tweets and I must admit, I did have a chuckle. The boys were off the back of a long, hard season where the pressure was on and they were clearly letting their hair down and having a good time. It was all done it good banter. The next season in the Premiership, we found our feet pretty quickly, finishing in the top six. Was this the target set out by Hartley? If I’m honest, I can’t remember the pre-season targets but it was probably to consolidate ourselves in the league and not become a yo-yo side. We needed to stay up and allow the club to build on it. When we got closer to the split we realised we had a chance to getting into the top six and luckily enough, we managed to get a few good results which meant we could enjoy the last five fixtures. You famously RKO’d Gary Harkins, racking up over a million views on YouTube and even receiving a tweet from the main man Randy Orton himself. Who came up with this idea or did Harkins just deserve an RKO? ‘Jeebs’ probably deserves an RKO for his cheek sometimes. We used to travel to training together from Glasgow and it was trending all that week – folk doing RKOs out of nowhere online and we used to laugh at the videos each morning. We both agreed that if either of us scored at the weekend – and it was never going to be me – that they’d get RKOd. Never did we expect it to go as crazy as it did, it got us free tickets to the WWE when it came to Glasgow and we went backstage. The fans were desperate for a win over United and after a few heavy defeats and near misses, we eventually got one over them with a 3-1 win at Dens. Was this a result the players were eager to give the fans? I’d definitely say so. It was my third season and we still hadn’t beaten them, so if we were hurting as players, it must have been ten times worse for the fans. It was a great feeling afterwards, the noise the fans made that was tremendous and helped cheers us on to the victory. In the last game of 2013/14, we faced off against Dundee United. We were soundly beaten by them but it was overshadowed by the actions of Nadir Ciftci who decided to bite your leg. It was a bizarre. They were 2-0 up at the time and I think he was on hat-trick, so to do something like that was plain stupid. In my eyes, biting is up there with spitting, you don’t expect to see either in any walk of life, never mind the football field. Luckily with the Scottish FA, there was enough evidence and they saw sense to hand him a ban. At the time, Dundee United defended their player in a statement and said ‘It is clear to us that the player has not been involved in any such incident’ and ‘We commend Nadir for his tolerance on the field given some quite severe physical and totally unacceptable verbal provocation.’ I don’t think it was the first time he’d been in bother on the football field, so I found it laughable, but not surprising, that Dundee United and his agent decided to have his back. They tried to paint him as being the victim and me as the guilty one, which was incredible, given the evidence that was available. He was unsurprisingly found guilty and given a lengthy ban but how did this whole situation affect you? I wouldn’t say it overly affected me, it just made me angry. Deep down, I knew what had happened, and him and his club were blatantly lying. I was pretty much left to deal with the situation, regarding the hearing at Hampden, myself, which probably made me angry too. A week after the season I didn’t hear another word from any officials at Dundee regarding the situation. When I went to Hampden it was basically me in the room, giving evidence myself, whereas he had three or four Celtic lawyers looking after him. It was quite intimidating, but as I knew I was telling the truth, it made it slightly easier. There was also talk of lipstick being used. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s something that you don’t carry in your boot bag? It was the funniest thing which came out of the whole situation. It was an utterly bizarre thing to come out with, I think the less said about it, the better, because it was cringe worthy. That would be your last game for Dundee and you would leave under freedom of contract. The fans wanted you to stay but was there an offer of a new contract or were you not in Hartley’s plans? Still to this day I’m waiting on the terms of the two-year deal Paul Hartley promised me two weeks before the end of the season. When we left for the summer I was told John Nelms would be in touch with the terms of contract, but I never heard another word from anybody at the club. I knew at the start of that season that most of the boys from the Championship-winning squad weren’t really wanted at the club, you could tell that with the way pre-season was going and so many new faces coming in – we were cast aside and I was fortunate I got a chance through Kevin Thompson getting injured, so I played most of the games that season. I had lots of ups and down at Dundee, but winning the Championship and finishing top six the following season were up there with the biggest achievements in my career and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club. You would sign for Blackpool and nailed down starting place in the first team. Were there any other Scottish clubs interested or did you just fancy a change in scenery and a shot at playing in the English leagues? I was in at St Johnstone for a few days because they were playing in Europe and one of their midfielders picked up a bad injury so there was an opportunity of something happening. When I heard I was going to have an opportunity to train with Blackpool for a week in Stirling, it was a no-brainer for me. I felt I needed a change, having played in Scotland for 13, 14 years. The change of scenery has done me the world of good and given me a new lease of life. Switching the Dark Blue for Tangerine eh? I prefer wearing the away kits because they’re blue, especially in my first season because it was dark blue. You suffered a broken leg in February this year and missed out on being on the field as Blackpool marked their return to League One via the play-offs. How is the recovery coming along and how gutting was it to not be on the field when the team clinched their return to league One? I was devastated to break my leg. I’d been fortunate enough to never get badly injured in my entire career, so it wasn’t easy to deal with. You’re still sitting on the sidelines, kicking every ball and around the lads on a day-to-day basis. When the boys got to Wembley I was obviously delighted, but a part of you is still gutted you’re not playing a part. When the final whistle went against Exeter I forgot about everything and joining in the celebrations with all the lads made me feel part of it – it was an amazing day. The recovery has been slow, but I’ve had some good progression over the last six weeks and now I can see a light at the end of the tunnel as I’ve started jogging. Hopefully I’ll be back kicking a ball sometime in October. Despite the injury, how is Blackpool treating you and your family? We love it down here. We stay on the outskirts of the town, in a quiet village, so made good friends which has helped us settle. I can be back up the road in a couple of hours which is ideal. We’ve had two kids since we’ve moved down here, so that keeps me busy when I’m not playing or training. I still get up to Scotland when I can so take games in and visit the family. One of my favourite moments of you while playing for Dundee was your two injury time goals against Raith Rovers at Starks Park. Not counting winning the Championship, what moment stands out the most for you while with us? There could a couple. In the first season, scoring in the Dundee derby at Dens was pretty special. Although we had been relegated, at the end of that season, to pick up various Player of the Year awards was special on a personal note. The two goals against Raith were great moments too, as they were at an important part of the season and late on in the game, and they seemed to kick us on for the second half of the season. Lastly, how would you sum up your time at Dens Park? It was a bit of a rollercoaster time. Going from getting relegated, to thinking we’d lost the Championship, to then winning it and going out on a high, securing a top six finish in the SPL. I thoroughly enjoyed my three years at Dundee and have great memories. I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time out to answer these questions for the website and more importantly the Dundee fans. We would like to wish you the best with Blackpool
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    Ex Dee Interview: Peter MacDonald

    In total, Peaso turned out 48 times for the club, scoring 21 times. You signed from Dundee when John Brown was the manager but he also coached you at Rangers. Did it take much persuading from him for you to join him at Dens Park? No, it was a no brainier to join as Dundee are a massive club and I thought we would go onto win the league as I knew a few of the players bomber was keen to get. You were linked with Dundee a good few times down the years before joining. Was there ever anything behind these stories or was it just paper talk? It was more just paper talk unfortunately as I had years on my contract to run at saints. Expectations were high that year with the new American owners backing the club financially but the first set of results were mixed, including being taken to Extra Time in the League Cup and Challenge Cup twice to lower league opposition. Was there any early pressure on the squad? I think there is always pressure when you are the favourites, but the first few games we won Out with the QOTS game. At one stage we were 8 points behind top of the table Hamilton but 7 wins out of 9, including a 3-0 victory at New Douglas Park against the Accies, saw us top the table for the first time that season in December. Was it a massive relief for the team that they managed to shorten the gap and then overtake them? We knew we had to just keep on winning but the Hamilton game was massive and I would hate to think what could have happened if we had lost that game, but we never and jumped them 3-0!! The next set of result changed the course of Dundee’s season. Three defeats in the next seven games heaped pressure on Brown and then a last minute goal from Alloa at Dens cost the club two points him leave the club. Was this a shock to the players? It was a shock as when bomber lost his job we were 30 seconds from being 4 points clear so I found it harsh that he left. Paul Hartley was the man who would replace Brown in the hot seat at Dens. What was it like with the new gaffer coming in? It was different as to start with. All we did was run as he had been told that we were an unfit team which was nonsense and he realised that after 3 weeks. His first game in charge was a home tie against our challenges Hamilton and it ended in a 1-0 win for Dundee and we back on top. How vital was this result for not only for Hartley but also the players after such a turbulent week? It was another massive result and it was a great performance although we only won by a goal, it’s always great for a manger to get off to a winning start. We then stayed at the top of the league until the end of March when both clubs bounced between first and second place. Was this just the sign of nerves kicking in for both sets of players do you think? I think it was more both teams struggling for a massive run of consistency and I suppose nerves could have played a part. I touched on this stage of the season when I interviewed Gavin Rae but the defeat to Morton with three games to goal was hard to take and a good few people were already starting to accept that we were destined for the play offs. What was your thoughts after this game? I was gutted after that game as I had missed a few chances which would have won it for us. The Alloa game the week after was a real game changer. We cruised to a 3-0 victory but during the game, Dumbarton were taking care of business at their end and mauling the Accies 4-1. Were you aware during the game of the events that were unfolding? We could only go out and do what we had to do and hope for Dumbarton to do the business against Hamilton, we knew the score from the cheers and also I asked a few fans from a corner! The build up to the final game was massive and excitement was flowing through the city. What was it like that week in training with such an important game approaching? You have to prepare as normal which we did as there’s no point in changing things. I was feeling the nerves days before the game but on the actual day, they were shot! I managed to cope by having a few drinks beforehand but how did you manage to deal with yours? I couldn’t wait for the game to come as I wanted to win the title so much and no one was going stop me so I wasn’t nervous at all just buzzing to play. The stadium was full with Dundee fans and the atmosphere electric. For the first time in a long time, the old lady was rocking! Can you tell us what the dressing room was like before kick off? It was normal but all the lads were buzzing to get out on the park and to get going, I think the game was always going to take care of itself. You got the goal that put us 2-0 up and at that point the fans thought that the title was in the bag. Dumbarton then pulled a goal back and then the news started to filter through that Hamilton were knocking them past Morton and reducing the goal difference. The fans then started to worry. Rae mentioned he never knew the score until Hartley told him at the end. Was this the same for you? I honestly can’t remember what happened, I don’t think I knew till I got taken off with 8 minutes to go. I’m not being biased when I say that Kyle Letheren pulled off the best ever save in football history right at the death. What was your reaction to it? It was unreal but I didn’t realise how good a save it was till I had seen it a few days later We would win the game though and be crowned the Championship winners. The crowd ascended onto the pitch and the frustration of playing 8 seasons out of 9 in the second tier was lifted from the fans. Seeing 4 full stands of jubilant Dundee fans charging at you must have been some feeling? I ran over to my mum and son as I wanted to see her first and give my son a kiss but I did get mobbed after that! I don’t believe one fan went home early that night. How did the players celebrate afterwards? I don’t think they should have went home early that night. Well-earned beers! Your 18 goals that season were viewed by many a fan as the main reason we went up. Of course the whole team played a vital part but it must be satisfying to have contributed the most important thing in football games, goals? Yeah it was very satisfying averting all the goals and playing well through the season as I had a point to prove as some people thought I was too old and saying what was bomber doing signing me but I hope I proved them wrong. The next season you featured 9 times and scored 3 goals but injury was to set you back a lot. How frustrating was it to miss out on playing especially since you worked so hard to make it to the Premiership? In the Celtic game I tore my cruciate and I knew that was at least 5 months out for me so I was gutted as I was starting to play well again and had earned my place in the team. You then left Dundee to re-join Morton at the turn of the year. Dundee fans were sad to see you leave as many believed you could still offer so much to the team. Was the lure of playing every week and also the chance to be a first team coach too good to turn down? I didn’t want to leave but Hartley told me I wouldn’t play in his team and that I should go so I felt I had no option, I was gutted to leave as I too felt I could get the goals which were not coming at the time. You then went on to win the league with Morton. You must have been sick of all these title celebrations by then? Hahahah you can’t get enough of winning! Going back to your early days at Dens, the fans instantly accepted you and even now you are still a fans favourite. How would you rate your time at Dundee? It was the best year of my life and that’s not a lie. My son was born, I was playing well and scoring and I went on to win a league title with a great club with amazing fans. I only wish I had joined sooner. Out of your 21 goals, which was one was the most memorable for you and which one was the most spectacular? I remember you blasting home 2 free kicks in back to back games in the cups which were unstoppable. My most spectacular were the 2 free kicks vs Forfar and my most memorable was the goal that won the league, I will never forget that moment as long as I live. There was some characters in the dressing room that year. Was there any notable players who loved a wind up and what was the best one you saw? We had a team full of crackpots so to many to mention haha Who was the most talented player you played with at Dens? Who thought they were the most talented player? I think we had a few like Conroy’s wand of a left foot and Davo’s power in the air so we never had a team of flair but more a team that knew how to win. What’s your aims for the future? Football has been your whole life and with the coaching you are doing, is the next step management? Yeah I want to go into management after I stop playing it’s the only thing I want to do. * INTERVIEW FIRST POSTED 2nd DECEMBER 2015
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    Ex Dee Interview: Kevin Bremner

    You Started your career at Deveronvale in 1970's, when did you first hear of Dundee's interest in you? I had been released by Peterborough United after gaining promotion from the 4th division in season 90-91 and spoke to Bobby Wilson who sold me in October 1980 to Colchester United. He had a word with Gordon Wallace the Dundee manager at the start of 91-92 season. I played a trial game against Wimbledon and was signed after that. What was it that made you chose to join the club? They gave me a chance and I was very grateful for the chance to continue my career. The season you joined the club we won the league. How did it feel to achieve that? I had been dumped by the new manager Simon Stainrod and left before the transfer deadline. He couldn't even tell me himself, Gordon Chisholm had to tell me I was no longer required. I can remember how it happened. I was a super sub for the first team and skipper of the reserves. Stevie Campbell was coming back from injury and Steven Frail and I were saying I don't think you'll get in our reserve team, you’re not good enough. Chris came into the changing room read out the team and my name never got mentioned. Chris spoke to me and told me that I wasn't in the managers plans and he didn't even want me playing in the reserves. How did I feel a big bit left out? No celebrations, no medal presentation, just a letter through the letter box with a medal in it Twenty-four appearances with six goals for club. What was your most memorable appearance/goal and why? Has to be the header against Partick Thistle which was on Sky Sports. Throughout your career, you played over 450 times North and South of the border. What was the difference between the Scottish and English game? I played most of my football in (English) Division Two and Three and they were on a par with the Scottish First division so I fitted in okay. Just a little bit older at the ripe old age of 34. The best manager and captain you worked with? Best manager has to be George Graham at Millwall. He took over at Christmas time, told his players you've got six weeks to play the way I want you to or I'll take in players who can. I joined the second week in February and by deadline day he had changed Nine out of the Eleven (players) we were 10 points clear off safety from the club at the bottom of the old Third Division. We lost once to Oxford who went up as champions out of the last Fifteen games and stayed up. We Improved next season then promotion the year after. Best captain Martin Hicks at Reading. Record breakers. Who were you closest too at your time at Dens? I Wasn't there long enough to form a really good relationship but was nicknamed Rory after changing my accent three times on the bus from Dundee to Clydebank. What happened was my registration hadn't gone through. I had to talk to Margaret the secretary at Peterborough which was a posh voice, then I had to speak to my mum from up North in a Doric chuchter accent. Then a mixture of both when talking to the players. I think it was Doddsie (Billy Dodds) or Stewart Beddie who gave me the Rory nickname. You left Dens to join Shrewsbury Town then onto Bora Rangers and finally Deveronvale. At Both Bora and Devernvale, you were Player-Manager. How did you transition from player to Player-Manager? It wasn't, easy especially at Brora as most of the players were amateurs. My skipper was great. He kept most of them in check but they all played Summer league football for their village teams in Caithness. We beat Caley in the semi-final of the Inverness Cup and lost to Ross County in the final after one of the amateurs gave away a penalty and was red carded in the first twenty minutes How did it feel to be leading goal scorer at Deveronvale and lead the team to victory in the Aberdeenshire shield? Vale was easier as it was the club I supported as a boy and played for them at the age of 19. We also beat Cove Rangers in the Aberdeenshire Shield to give Vale their first silverware since 1978 when we won the Bells cup against Huntley which I also played in. Have you any regrets from when you left Dens or what you would do differently? I never wanted to leave Dundee and was gutted I missed out on the Championship celebrations. I had tasted championship celebrations at Reading in season 85-86 and missed out big style at Dundee.
  7. UWTB1893

    Ex Dee Interview | Steven Milne

    You made your debut in our 97/98 1st Division League winning season against St Mirren. What was it like coming through the ranks and making your debut? It was an amazing experience having signed for the club as a 13 year old and progressing to the first team. My debut came out the blue a bit, and looking back I don’t feel I was ready, but it gave me a taste of it and I knew if I worked hard I’d get other chances in the future. You were handed a 2 and a half year deal a few days after making your debut. What was it like signing your first professional contract? It was a great relief to sign a professional contract, as the uncertainty amongst the youth players over what to do if released was difficult. I was able to relax and just enjoy my football without worrying over what may happen in the summer. You had to wait a few more years before playing again for Dundee but in season 99/00 you were loaned out to Forfar were you made an immediate impact scoring 19 goals in 39 games. You also won the Third Division Player of the Year award. How much did that season mean to you? That season was incredible for me. I’d sold programmes at Forfar and used to go to all the games with my dad (who used to steward). So to not only play for them, but to get promoted, be top goal scorer and win player of the division gave me the belief to really get in to the Dundee first team squad the following season. John McCormack was the manager who gave you your debut but it was Jocky Scott who loaned you out after replacing him as Dundee manager. Did you maybe think your time was up with being loaned out by the new manager or was this a chance for you to show him what you were capable of? I didn’t have time to think my time was up, as Jocky pulled me in his office and said Forfar wanted to take me on loan for the season and he thought it would be good for my development. But in the same conversation he told me not to think I was being pushed away, and instead offered me an improved and extended contract at the same time. From making your debut in 1997 to leaving the club in 2004 and then from 2011 to 2013, you played under numerous managers. Who was the best manager you worked with? Each manager brought different ideas and tactics, I enjoyed working with almost all of them. My favourite would probably be Jocky Scott however, we seemed to get on really well, and still do. I’m actually reading his book at the moment. You started in the 2002/03 Scottish Cup Semi Final and came on as a substitute in the Final which we unfortunately lost. How surreal was it to be playing in these types of game? These were massive games for the club, and although losing the final, it was an amazing experience and one which I’ll never forget. The amount of Dundee fans there at Hampden was great to see. You’ve played for 6 teams in your career (Dundee, Forfar, Plymouth, St Johnstone, Ross County and Arbroath). What part of your playing career did you enjoy the most? I enjoyed playing for Forfar, St Johnstone and Dundee, and they all had massive high points in my career, but the fact I came through the youth system at Dundee, sways my decision towards them. I remember you scored a hat-trick in 49 minutes away to Hamilton back in 2011 which I still think is the last time any player for Dundee has done so in the league. What goals for Dundee do you remember the best? There’s a few ones that meant more than others, the first being the goal against Dundee United at tannadice not long after the first administration. The second would be my first for the club against St Mirren in a 5-0 win at dens, and lastly I really enjoyed my 2nd against Hamilton in that hat trick game, as it was one of the best ones I’ve ever scored. You played under Barry Smith, he was your captain and then your gaffer. What’s it like being a team mate with someone then down the line they are your manager? It took a bit of getting used to, and I couldn’t call him gaffer!!! But he is a great guy and easy to play under.
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