DUNDEE v MOTHERWELL, SCOTTISH CUP FINAL 1952
I must add that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they beat United to prevent them completing their full complement of domestic honours! (honest!)
What is important about their victory, and that of Hibs in last season's Skol Cup is that it proves that Scottish football is not a two horse race, or three or four for that matter for the domestic honours in the game. Even recent beaten finalists such as Airdrie and Dunfermline show that honours are within the reach of perhaps around twelve teams realistically, although this probably excludes the league as resources and quality should shine through over a long 44-game programme. It is with this in mind that fans and more importantly players of so-called provincial clubs, and I include Dundee and Motherwell in this, should bear in mind at the start of each season.
With a mix of endeavour, skill, luck and of course a decent cup draw, anything is possible as Airdrie will testify when they trot out in Prague for their first and never to be forgotten taste of European Football.
I'm sure Motherwell fans would agree and I know that my Dens mates who are old enough to remember the Dee's glory days will testify these nights are extra-special!
Todays’ opponents have one over us in that they have won the Scottish Cup twice by virtue of beating both city teams at Hampden in what is fair to say was the role of the underdog both times.
The victory over United is recent enough for us all to remember but the one over the Dee way back in 1952 was a stunning result for its day due to both the manner of victory and the quality of Dundee' s team at that time.
This was a Dundee team that contained a number of greats, household names such as the peerless Billy Steel, Tommy Gallacher, Doug Cowie and George ‘Pud’ Hill who my old man once said knocked big George Young of Rangers over - and Geordie was twice the size of our Pud !
I spoke to Pud whose nickname incidentally was changed from ‘Pod’ in his schooldays to ‘Pud’ by Tommy Gallacher, and he recalled the match with incredible clarity.
He remembers George Young with great affection as someone who was a gentleman on the park and one of the fairest players in the game with no desire to be dirty or hurt a fellow professional.
'Dundee had already won the League Cup earlier in season 1951/52 defeating Rangers 3-2 in an incredible finish and were the hot favourites to lift the second domestic cup to round off the best season in their history.'
'I had missed our League Cup Final win earlier that season through injury and also the semi where we had thumped, by coincidence, Motherwell 5-1 at Ibrox! Not many people will know that no medals were awarded by the Scottish League for winning, and Dundee gave the players medals struck by themselves!
'I was determined to make up for that but as the history books show it was not to be although I have no regrets as after the war I didn't think I would even be playing football let alone be in a cup final. I had suffered a couple of bad injuries, a cartilage op and tendon trouble and had not been too optimistic about my career in football.'
Post -war crowds were still phenomenal and around 136,000 were squashed into Hampden to see an intriguing match in April 1952 where the teams lined up as follows:
Dundee: Henderson, Follon, Cowan, Gallacher, Cowie, Boyd, Hill, Pattillo, Flavell, Steel and Christie.
Motherwell: Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Shaw, Cox, Paton, Redpath, Sloan, Humphries, Kelly, Watson and Aitkenhead.
Motherwell had already been in four finals only to lose them all with the last defeat only the prior season, while Dundee had enjoyed two appearances with a 50% success rate as a result of victory over Clyde in 1910 where a winning goal from John ‘Sailor’ Hunter brought the trophy to Dens.
By coincidence John Hunter had gone on to manage both Dundee and Motherwell and eventually by the time of the 1952 final had experienced four defeats in Scottish Cup Finals. George Stevenson was now in charge at Motherwell and ‘Sailor’ had opted to stay at home and listen to the match on the radio.
In the first half it was all square although 'Well full back Willie Kilmarnock kicked the ball off the line twice with some people still to this day claiming one was over the line, although I'm not a great fan of hard luck stories as football will never be a game of 'if only ... '.
Pud remembers that 'Billy Steel was in good form in the first half but perhaps played too many balls down the left and didn't vary it often enough'.
'The second half was a different story though and twice in two minute spells Motherwell stuck two past us to give an unbelievable scoreline of 0 - 4 with the goals being scored by Watson and Redpath in the 56th and 57th minutes and again near the end by Humphries and Kelly in the 84th and 85th minutes to really rub it in'
'My main outstanding memory is a feeling of emptiness and realising we had lost and I only had a runners up medal, although I knew later and still do that that was also an achievement. Dundee at that time had the best half-back line in Scotland with Gallacher, Cowie and Boyd the outstanding trio.'
'It would have been fantastic to have brought two trophies to Dens in one season but it was not to be. We had a great manager in George Anderson who liked players with character as his purchase of Billy Steel showed'. 'George was a gent and in fact I remember him only swearing once and even then he apologised before he said it!'
'He was fond of saying, “we’re not running a Sunday school here!” as he knew some players would step out of line now and again! He actually tried to get a Super League started in the early fifties so none of the current thinking is particularly new – in fact George Anderson was obviously way ahead of his time. He also knew how to use the press to his and the club's advantage and nowadays would probably be regarded as a great marketing guy!
Pud still follows the fortunes of Dundee (and United!) and his son, George junior actually had a spell with Dundee in the early seventies but didn't quite make it.
Pud still keeps in touch with his old mates and on the day I spoke to him was off to meet Tommy Gallacher in the Boar's Rock for a 'wee drink' where they meet regularly, no doubt to reminisce on great days. If anyone sees these fine gentlemen in there one night buy them a drink from a new generation of Dundee fans brought up on stories of glory days.