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NEWS: ‘The supporters will bend over backwards to help their club’: Former Dee Derek Soutar hails Dundee fans’ fundraising efforts

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The reaction of fans to their club’s coronavirus plight this summer shows Dundee is a club like no other, according to a former Dens Park goalie.

Derek Soutar made the step from sitting with the fans to standing between the sticks, playing 49 times over two spells from 1998-2006 and a short-lived return in 2009, and has been doing his part to join fans in supporting their club.

Supporters have been quick to come up with fundraising schemes to help Dundee out while finances are strained owing to the coronavirus shutdown.

One fan raised over £16,000 with a ‘Thank You to the NHS’ badge on next season’s shirt, the Dundee FC Supporters’ Society has handed over more than £10,000 and the 1893 Foundation has been founded with 540 members already paying thousands of pounds straight into the club’s coffers.

Soutar has done his part in the 1893 Challenge – where 35 Dark Blues fans and manager James McPake raised over £1,800 by running 1893 miles, the year of the club’s foundation – despite having recently had successful back surgery.

He told the Courier/Tele Sport: “I had an operation on my back in June. The staff were fantastic, I must say – the NHS take a hit sometimes from people but I can’t applaud them enough for how efficient and professional they all were.

“Then I was contacted by the guys doing the 1893 Challenge and I was more than happy to add my support to the group and the good work they were doing. I just added the odd wee message because I couldn’t really contribute after my operation.

“But I wanted to do my bit, even if just a minimal part of the whole challenge, and I went for a wander and tracked it.

“It was just to support the guys, it was only about four kilometres or something but I was absolutely gubbed! I had to stop, start constantly and it floored me.

“But I think this fundraising effort and the others that have been set up just shows what kind of support Dundee has. The supporters will bend over backwards to help their club.

“When I was at the club and after there have been some turbulent times with wage cuts and administrations. The fans showed back then they’d support the club through anything and do everything to fight for their club.

“Manager James McPake got involved in the 1893 Challenge and did his part as well which speaks volumes.

“Everyone is pulling together to survive this period and that spirit shows what the club is all about.”

Soutar during his spell running Dundee pub, the High Corner.

Having been on the inside at Dens Park as well as a fan on the outside, Soutar understands what the club means to its fans and why they are willing, once more, to go above and beyond to help.

He added: “Dundee Football Club is more than just a football club. When I was there it just becomes part of your life, part of your family.

“No matter how good, bad or indifferent things are at Dens, the supporters will always find a way to support their club.

“There are plenty of people struggling financially because of the crisis we’re in and for those same people to put their hand in their pockets just tells you what Dundee means. People will put their club ahead of their own worries and that’s incredible.

“I also have to mention Alison McQueen at the club for all the effort she’s been putting in over and above her own work hours to keep the youth system going. Alison has been keeping the half-time draw going even though there’s no games and there’s been 1000s of numbers some weeks.

“People are still putting their money into things like that and that’s why Dundee is different to a lot of clubs.

“Supporters like to moan and groan at players but deep down the real fans will always be there, no matter what the club is going through.”

Though there have been plenty of negative headlines since the effects of the pandemic shut down Scottish football, Soutar hopes the nearer we get to the season restarting, the more will be made of the positive aspects of being a Dundee fan in coronavirus times.

“I think the club has handled things as well as they could,” Soutar, whose Goalkeeping Academy has just restarted in Forfar and Charlotte Street, said.

“This was all thrown upon everyone. Nobody really knew how to handle this all early on and I think some people were too quick to judge the situation. The guys at the top have always had the best interests of the club at heart. I think everyone is struggling right now but there was a great deal made of what was happening at Dundee.

“Hopefully, when everything has settled down and the players are back things can look a bit more positive. That’s what I’d like to see, more focus on the positive rather than the negative.

“The board have also backed the manager by giving him money to bring in Danny Mullen and Alex Jakubiak and there’s a good squad at Dens.

“It’ll be tough with Hearts in the league but, hopefully, we can have a good Betfred Cup and then get the three points at Tynecastle and everything will look better! If people, footballers I mean, can keep within the guidelines before October anyway.

“I’ve spoken to some of the players at Dens and they are itching to get back in. They’ve all taken a wage cut which shows their commitment, too.”

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