Dundee United FC is a Scottish professional football club based in the city of Dundee, Scotland. The club currently plays in the Scottish Premiership, the country’s highest football league in Scotland.
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Dundee United FC History
The desire of the Irish immigrant community, which had begun to congregate in Dundee during the early years of the twentieth century, was the impetus behind the founding of a football club, which is where the name “Dundee United” comes from. Prior attempts to offer a focal point for the Dundee Irish were generally unsuccessful until the formation of the Dundee Hibernian organization.
In the early months of 1909, a group of local businesspeople with Irish ancestry got to work on laying the groundwork for what would later become the new Club. As a result of their efforts, the Club came into existence. Pat Reilly, a local bicycle salesman who would go on to become the first Manager of the Club, was the primary impetus behind the decision to transfer. After the club was established on the 24th of May 1909, it immediately took over the lease of Clepington Park and renamed it Tannadice Park. This location has served as the club’s home stadium ever since the club was established. It should not come as a surprise that green and white were selected as the team colors given the Irish connection.
On the 18th of August in 1909, the Tannadice Park venue hosted its first ever encounter, which was a friendly contest versus the Hibs of Edinburgh. The game was played in front of 7,000 spectators and finished in a 1-1 tie. Jamie Docherty was the player that struck the first goal for Dundee Hibs, and he did it in order to equalize the goal that was scored by the opposition.
In 1909, Dundee Hibs made an application to join the Scottish League, but their request was denied. As a result, the club played in the Northern League for their first season of existence. In spite of this, they were victorious in their first season and were awarded the Carrie Cup, which is a trophy that is competed for by many clubs in the county of Forfarshire. In June of 1910, after extensive campaigning on the part of Pat Reilly and the Board of Directors of Tannadice, the club was able to successfully apply to join the Scottish League. The new season began with a match versus Leith Athletic being played at Tannadice.
The outbreak of the First World War brought about the temporary dissolution of the Scottish Leagues, and Dundee Hibs spent the duration of the war competing in the Eastern League, which also ceased operations in 1918. After the war was over, it was generally believed that the Scottish Leagues would continue on from where they had left off in 1915. This was the year that they had stopped playing. However, although an expanded First Division was re-instated, the Second Division was not, and Dundee Hibs departed from the Scottish League to participate in a revived Eastern League in 1919-20. This was despite the fact that the First Division was expanded. The club enjoyed a successful season, as evidenced by their continued presence atop the league standings from the beginning to the end of the competition.
In the summer of 1920, Hibs decided to rejoin the Scottish League; however, after a resolution to reorganize the Second Division was voted down, they decided to leave the league once more. This time, Hibs were joined in their transition to the autonomous Central League by the other teams that had previously played in the Second Division. After another year of resistance, the Scottish League finally caved in and reestablished the Second Division with a system of automatic promotion and relegation for the very first time. Every team that competed in the Central League was invited to join the new league. The new format included a requirement that the two teams that finished in last place at the end of the 1921–1922 season would be eliminated from competition. Unfortunately, Dundee Hibs were one of those sides, and the club was once again left in the middle of nowhere in terms of football.
In the months leading up to the 1922-23 season, the directors of Dundee Hibs clung tenaciously to the idea that their club could be saved, even if doing so nearly caused them to miss out on the opportunity to compete in any other league. The club was only a few days away from going out of business when they were given a chance at survival when they were offered a spot in the Scottish Alliance League. This league served as a sort of reserve league for the teams that played in the First Division. Despite the fact that Hibs had a tough time during that season, the Directors were always trying to get support for the team’s readmission to the Scottish League. They devoted themselves wholly to the success of Dundee Hibs, and their efforts were rewarded when the club was promoted to the Second Division for the 1923–1924 season.
The club played as Dundee Hibernian during the beginning of the 1923-1924 season, but by the end of the year, they were known as Dundee United. At the beginning of that season, the Directors made the decision to go to black and white from the previous color scheme. These alterations were made in an effort to broaden the club’s appeal to a more diverse group of people. The preferred new name was Dundee City at first, but this was met with considerable opposition from the club’s local rivals, Dundee FC. Following a number of weeks of deliberation, a consensus on the name Dundee United was achieved, which was then sanctioned by the relevant football authorities. The first game ever played under the name Dundee United came on October 27, 1923, and it was against Dumbarton.
After that, the club had a period of relative prosperity with former international goalie Jimmy Brownlie serving as Player/Manager during that time. Within two years of taking command, he led United to the Second Division title in 1924-25, becoming the first person to bring First Division football to Tannadice. Unfortunately for United, they were not prepared adequately for top-flight football and were demoted two years later as a result. Brownlie then continued his work on the squad for the next two seasons, culminating in their return to the top of the Second Division in 1928-29. They were only in the First Division for one year when they were promoted for the second time, but they were promoted once more before the end of that season. It came as a surprise when the Club and Manager broke off their working relationship as soon as the promotion was secured. Once again, United’s time spent in the top league proved fleeting, and at the conclusion of the 1931–1932 season, the club was demoted back to the lower level.
The subsequent years were difficult ones for Dundee United, both on and off the field of play. They were able to get quite close to the top of the table in the 1934–1935 season, but for the majority of the 1930s, you could find them fighting for survival in the bottom portions of the league. The entire nation was in the throes of a recession, and as a result, a number of football teams in Scotland were forced to close their doors. Dundee United came dangerously close to being one of them. Local businessmen William McIntosh and George Greig came to the rescue of the Club at the very last possible moment in the latter part of 1933 and 1934, when it was on the danger of going out of business entirely. After that, Jimmy Brownlie came back to the squad to once again assume leadership, and for a short while, things appeared to be heading in the right direction.
Nonetheless, after two years, the Club had significant financial troubles, and George Greig once again stepped in to salvage the Club. In addition to instituting stringent financial controls, he also stopped using Brownlie’s services and took over management of the club himself. Dundee United scraped by, but only by the skin of their teeth. Greig resigned at the conclusion of the 1937–1938 season, and a new Board of Directors assumed control for the next year. One of the first things that they did was hire Jimmy Brownlie to serve as Manager for a third time, but this time it was a combined position with Sam Irving. They carried the Club through the 1938–1939 season, and a new team was being assembled with the intention of making a run at the championship when the outbreak of the Second World War brought an abrupt halt to the game of football.
After the Scottish Leagues were disbanded once more, the authorities in charge of football reorganized the leagues, and Dundee United played in the Eastern Regional League during the 1939–1940 season. Additionally, during that season, United had an outstanding performance in the Emergency War Cup. United played Rangers all the way to the championship game at Hampden Park, when they suffered a heartbreaking loss by a margin of just one goal. In point of fact, numerous commentators were of the opinion that United was the superior team. It’s possible that the result would have been different if an apparent excellent goal scored by United in the first half wasn’t ruled to have been scored offside.
In the 1940-41 season, there were no senior leagues played on the east coast. In place of Dundee United’s participation in that season’s competition, United Juniors were formed to take part in the junior competitions; they remained a part of these leagues until 1944. In the 1941–1942 season, Dundee United competed once more as a member of the North Eastern League, which had recently been established and would continue to do so until the end of the war. On the day that VE Day was celebrated, United hosted Dundee in a Forfarshire Cup match at Tannadice. The atmosphere was festive. As the beginning of a new era approached, both the club and its followers were filled with hope.
At long last, a promotion! Tannadice will host First Division football for the first time in 28 years thanks to Ron Yeats and his team’s 1-0 victory over Berwick Rangers. The victory ensures that Tannadice will play host to football at the highest level once again.
Dundee United did not have any immediate chances of being successful during the period immediately following the end of the Second World War. Willie MacFadyen had taken over as manager by this point, and with the help of a reserve team, he started to construct the team with an eye toward the future. However, following a season of adjustment in the Southern League B Division, the Club spent the rest of the decade struggling in the lower half of the Second Division. The encounter against Celtic in the Scottish Cup that took place at Tannadice in January 1949 is one that is remembered to this day. United was victorious with a score of 4-3, although they could have had a larger margin of victory if the referee hadn’t disallowed three further goals. The following year, the team finished in a respectable seventh position in the league, and the club’s strategy of developing young players began to bear fruit, as seen by the club’s improved performance.
United finished in fourth place for the season 1950-1951, and they finished in the same position for the season 1951-1952, despite the Directors’ decision to not have a reserve team for the 1952-1953 season. The effect on performances was negative, as evidenced by United’s descent to eighth place, followed by fifteenth place, in consecutive seasons. After that, United got a new manager in Reggie Smith, who did a good job of getting the team back on track for a while until leaving in 1957 to become the manager of Falkirk. Nevertheless, at that point, a significant decision had already been reached at the Board level. The Dundee United Sportsmen’s Club was established with the explicit intention of raising money to reconstruct the stadium and give finances to acquire players. This plan was based on a similar program that was implemented at Nottingham Forest. The establishment of a football pool known as Taypools helped to quickly initiate a consistent flow of monetary resources, which was realized. The covered area that is today referred to as “The Shed” was paid for within a year thanks to the contributions made by the Sportsmen’s Club. Cash was also provided for the players, but that did not ensure success on the pitch for United, as evidenced by the fact that at the end of the 1958–1959 season, the team placed third-last in the Second Division.
By the time the next season began, a new manager by the name of Jerry Kerr had been hired. The Directors requested him to build a solid foundation upon which the company could achieve success, but Kerr delivered much more than that. Through shrewd player acquisitions, he completely remade the squad and led them to a promotion to the First Division in his very first season as manager. Incredible is the turn of events that followed for Dundee United after that moment on in terms of their luck. As soon as the club received the money from Taypools, they were able to finish building a new stand and upgrade all of the standing places at Tannadice. In addition, there was more than enough money to pay player salaries and transfer costs, and within the team’s reserves, numerous promising young players surfaced.
A best ever ninth place finish in the First Division was achieved in 1960-1961, and the following year, United were just one place worse off at the end of a second season in the top flight. However, Kerr had achieved something that no other Dundee United Manager had done: a third year in succession in the First Division. United continued to improve for the subsequent three years, culminating with a fifth-place result in the 1965–1966 season. Kerr has continued to discover players, notably imports from Scandinavia, and develop them into better players. United competed in their first European tournament the next year, which further elevated the club’s stature. Prior to that season, the club had already had a reputation for playing attacking, entertaining football, but that image was elevated even more. They took on Spanish powerhouses and current owners of the Fairs Cities Cup, Barcelona, and prevailed against them in both the road and the home legs of the competition to set up another top match versus Juventus. They were eliminated at that level, which was unfortunate, but the name Dundee United became known across the continent as a team that should be respected. The success that Manchester United had during the 1966–1967 season, in particular their matches against Barcelona and Juventus, led to an offer for the club to compete in the North American Soccer League (NASL) during the summer of 1967 in the United States under the name Dallas Tornado.
United continued to be successful despite the fact that all of its Scandinavian players had gone back to their homelands after only a few years. A finish of fifth during the 1968–1969 season earned participation in the Fairs Cities Cup once more as well as a trip to the United States during the summer to compete in the International League. Both of these opportunities were made possible as a result of the finish. The most significant change that came about as a consequence of that trip was the adoption of a tangerine color by United, which had previously competed in black and white. The Dallas Tornado wore that color. Even though they were eliminated in the first round of the Fairs Cities Cup by the champions Newcastle United, United had another successful season in 1969–1970, finishing in fifth place once again and looking forward to playing in European nights. Despite this setback, United had another successful season.
The 1970-71 season was a somewhat successful one, as evidenced by the sixth place finish. In December 1971, Jerry Kerr was succeeded in his position as campaign manager by Jim McLean, and the subsequent campaign would be his last. The new manager got right to work on reassembling the squad right away, placing a heavy emphasis on the growth of the younger players. He recruited a number of veteran players with years of experience in the hopes that they would bolster the squad and contribute to the growth of an emerging group of exceptionally gifted young players. After only two years, the strategy was successful, and United advanced to the final of the Scottish Cup for the very first time in May 1974. Even though they were defeated by Celtic with a score of 3-0, the fact that they were even able to compete there is another evidence of the development accomplished at Tannadice in a relatively short amount of time.
The following season, United finished in fourth place in the league and qualified for Europe once more; however, their time in Europe in 1975–1976 was similarly brief to that of the previous season. During that season, the Scottish League Premier Division also began for the first time, and many clubs had a difficult time competing. In the case of United, it required a scoreless draw against Rangers at Ibrox in the final game of the season in order to keep their place in the top division. United finished the 1976–1977 season in fourth place and went one better in each of the next two seasons, each time gaining admittance into Europe. This was accomplished with relatively few changes to the playing staff. Dundee United reached the championship game of the League Cup for the first time ever during the 1979–1980 season, which was another significant moment in the club’s long and illustrious history. The first match, which took place at Hampden Park, ended in a scoreless draw between United and Aberdeen. The second match, which took place at Dens Park, was won by United with a dominant performance by a score of 3-0. A year later, United went back to the site of their maiden League Cup victory to defend their title against local rivals Dundee. They were successful in doing so, and took home the trophy. The result was the same; United won the game 3-0 despite having a commanding advantage throughout. The following year, United advanced all the way to the League Cup final for the third year in a row, but although playing exceptionally well, they were unable to defeat Rangers. A defeat in the Scottish Cup final against the Ibrox club following a replay occurred during the 1980-1981 season.
During the early 1980s, United were a dominant force in Scottish football as well as in Europe, and the club was a part of numerous games that will live long in the memory. They were termed the “New Firm” along with Aberdeen because both teams actively challenged the dominance of the Old Firm, which consisted of Celtic and Rangers. When Manchester United won the Premier League championship in 1982–1983, they had finally reached the zenith of their league accomplishments. At the very end of that season, the championship was decided at Dens Park, and all that was required for United to win was a victory over their crosstown rivals Dundee. The game was played in front of a sold-out crowd, and early on, United took a two-goal lead. However, by the time the final whistle blew, the score was only 2-1. The festivities continued late into the night and far into the next day.
United gained access into the most prestigious competition in Europe by winning the Premier League, and they proceeded to easily dispatch every opponent they faced en route to meeting AS Roma in the semifinals of the European Cup. United were on the verge of making it to the championship game after taking a 2-0 lead in the first leg of the match; however, the Italian team turned around their deficit in the second leg to eliminate United. Another good season, 1984–1985 brought the team to both the League Cup final and the Scottish Cup final, but both were ultimately unsuccessful. After another year, United finished in third place in a tight contest for the league championship. The following season was United’s finest in Europe, although a demanding schedule of fixtures did not help the club as it advanced to the finals of both the UEFA Cup and the Scottish Cup. Nonetheless, United won both of those competitions. Both championship games were to be played within a two-week window. Both the first leg of the UEFA Cup final against Gothenburg and the Scottish Cup final against St. Mirren ended in losses for United. United’s loss in the Scottish Cup final was by a single goal. After only four days, the second leg of the match versus Gothenburg resulted in a 1-1 draw, and the Swedish club eventually won the match and took home the trophy. United fans were undoubtedly let down, but their gracious appreciation for the victorious team and exemplary conduct throughout the competition earned them UEFA’s very first Fans’ Fair Play award.
Another Scottish Cup final was played at the end of the 1987–1988 season, and once again, a fine performance was not enough to win the game. This time, Celtic overcame a one-goal deficit to defeat United by a score of 2-1. The decade of the 1980s came to a close on the same triumphant note on which it had opened. United’s elevated prominence following the arrival of Jim Mclean was clear in the club’s league positions and cup final appearances, but it was also noticeable in the amount of United players who were honored on an international level. This occurred after Jim Mclean took over as the club’s manager. David Narey was the first United player to be recognized at full international level for Scotland in 1977. This is despite the fact that United had players who had been capped for the Scottish League side and that some of the Scandinavians who were at the club in the late 1960s had been capped for their country while they were playing for United. Soon after, a large number of others joined in with him.
The decade of the 1990s started off with a rematch of the Scottish Cup final. Even though the encounter between United and Motherwell in 1991 is considered by some to be the best game that has ever been played at the national stadium, it was of little consolation to United, as they ended up losing the game 4-3 after extra time. The decade continued with strong results in the league, and in 1992, following extensive renovation work at Tannadice, the brand new George Fox Stand was opened to the public. Tannadice was made into an all-seater stadium two years after the East Stand was finished being constructed. Shortly after that, seats were installed in the Shed, and the Fair Play Enclosure was converted to complete the transformation. The total cost of all the improvements came to approximately seven million pounds, which was paid for in large part by the Board’s astute transfer dealing. Since 1989, Jim McLean has served as Chairman of the Board. Ivan Golac took over as manager of Dundee United in 1993 after McLean stepped down from the position. Under Golac’s leadership, the club won the Scottish Cup in May 1994, bringing their collection of domestic trophies to a full set. The success was short-lived, however, as United was demoted the following season after their victory.
Golac departed the club in March of 1995, and shortly thereafter, Tannadice old boy Billy Kirkwood took over as manager. Unfortunately for United, Kirkwood was unable to preserve the team from being relegated. After that, he was given the responsibility of getting United back into the Premier League. A difficult season in 1995-1996 resulted in a play-off versus Partick Thistle for promotion in May 1996. The match consisted of two legs. United equalized the match in the second leg with just 40 seconds remaining, and they went on to win the match overall by a score of 3-2.
Tommy McLean took over as manager after Kirkwood due to the team’s poor start to the 1996–1997 season after they had successfully regained their Premier League status. At the time, United was struggling in the second-to-last place in the league. However, the new manager made some astute moves in the transfer market, acquiring in a clutch of Scandinavian players, and that brought about a remarkable transformation as the Club climbed the league to finish in third place and book a return to Europe.
The 1997–1998 season got off to a strong start for United, as seen by their advancement to the League Cup final in November 1997; nevertheless, a lackluster performance resulted in Celtic’s 3-0 victory.
That marked a turning point in the season, as United rapidly slipped down the table, with the fear of relegation ever-present until the penultimate game of the season culminated in a win at Hibs. After that, United avoided relegation by winning the penultimate game of the season at Hibs. Tommy McLean tendered his resignation after a shaky beginning to the next campaign, and Paul Sturrock, a former playing legend, was promptly hired to take over as the manager of the team. The new manager struggled mightily in his first year, leading the team to a second-to-last place result.
United was in a good position when the new century began, as they were halfway through the 1999-2000 season. However, the results in the second half of the season were below what was expected, and United finished in ninth place.
Alex Smith took over as manager of United after Paul Sturrock’s management career came to an end during the first full season of the new millennium. This occurred just as the league season was beginning. United barely made it through a challenging season, but they were able to do so by winning their final four matches. The game that counted was the one that took place at St. Johnstone, which United won 3-2 thanks to a goal scored by Derek Lilley in the final minute of play after coming back from a two-goal deficit.
The following year, 2001-2002, was a much better season for the club, as they finished in seventh position. However, by that time, it was abundantly clear that the circumstances had drastically changed, and the other Scottish top-flight clubs were all capable of getting results against one another. The Old Firm were the only clubs in the league that were exempt from having their lives made significantly more difficult as a result of changes to the rules governing transfer deals.
Changes were made to the Board of Directors during the subsequent season, with Eddie Thompson acquiring the majority stake in the Club. The new Chairman didn’t waste any time in replacing Alex Smith with Paul Hegarty, although that appointment didn’t even last the full three months before being succeeded by Ian McCall at the end of January 2003.
It took until the second to last game of the season, a 1-0 victory away at Partick Thistle, for McCall to accomplish his goal, which was to keep the team from being relegated. The new manager brought in eleven new players for the 2003-04 season to replace the same number of players who had previously left the team.
Even though the season got off to a rough start, it was still possible to finish in fifth position. After a successful stint as caretaker in the wake of Stuart McCall’s resignation, Gordon Chisholm was handed the post as permanent Manager during the 2004–2005 season. This marked yet another shift in the managing staff.
Chisholm prevented the Club from being demoted to the lower division by leading them to victory at Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the season’s final match. Also, under his leadership, United advanced all the way to the championship game of the Scottish Cup, where they were defeated by Celtic by a solitary goal.
Although United qualified for the UEFA Cup thanks to their appearance in the cup final, they were eliminated in the first round, which signaled the end of Chisholm’s stint as manager.
Craig Brewster, a former player who played a heroic role in the 1994 Scottish Cup final, made an emotional return as Player/Manager in January of 2006; however, his employment was terminated after ten months and just three wins in competitive play. Craig Levein took over as head coach in October 2006 and immediately turned around a struggling 2006-07 campaign for the club. Despite the fact that the club finished in the bottom six, noticeable progress was made.
In the 2007–08 season, Levein served as both the Manager of the football team and as the Director of Football. The team had a successful season overall, and they finished in fifth place in the league.
United also competed against Rangers in the final of the CIS Insurance Cup, but they were defeated in a brutal manner when the match went to a penalty shootout. In a fitting and lasting monument to the Chairman, the East Stand at Tannadice was promptly rechristened the Eddie Thompson Stand not long after the event in question. Eddie Thompson passed away in October 2008 following a lengthy battle with sickness. His passing was keenly felt by everyone linked with the Club, as well as throughout the entirety of Scottish football. His passing was a tragedy.
Dundee United FC Stadium
Tannadice Park, also known simply as Tannadice, is a football stadium located in Dundee, Scotland. Its official name is Tannadice Park (Scottish Gaelic: Pàirc Thanachais). Since the club’s inception in 1909 as Dundee Hibernian, matches involving Dundee United F.C. have been played at Tannadice, which serves as the club’s primary playing venue. Since 1994, the stadium has been completely enclosed by seating, and its total capacity is 14,223. It is the senior football pitch in the United Kingdom that is located the closest to Dundee F.C.’s stadium, which is known as Dens Park. The distance between the two is only 183 meters and 200 yards.
The stadium was formerly known as Clepington Park, and in the 19th century, it was utilized by a variety of different teams from the surrounding area. From 1894 until 1909, the Dundee Wanderers Football Club played their home games there. During that time, the club had one season as a member of the Scottish Football League (1894–95). When Dundee Hibernian took over the lease of the stadium in 1909, they renamed it Tannadice to reflect their ownership of the club.