Dundee FC, The Crocodile, Caniggia, Gilzean and a special league trophy!

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Watching a friendly between Scotland and Portugal, and my thoughts starts to flow, thinking, there are only two clubs in Scotland, Celtic and Rangers, and a very rusty national team, and in charge that old Aberdeen hero Alex McLeish, already 1-0 down at half time, the game continues, but I decide to write something instead.

Then my mind starts to search, what about all the other teams, who are they. Yes, we have Hearts and Hibs, and of course Aberdeen, and not to forget Dundee, and this special Crocodile, but as this story continues he is totally left out.

Dundee is a city with approximately 150 000 inhabitants. The have two professional football teams and both clubs have been in the top flight of Scottish football, but this season it’s not like that. Dundee United, in my head is the bigger team is now in the 2nd tier, while Dundee FC is in the top flight.

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In this story we are no longer concentrating on the orange and black, but will write on about the dark blue, the club that once made history by winning the league, but we are talking far back, 56 years ago. This is the story about a club that had their superstars that was later sold to Tottenham and Arsenal, and they just continued to win titles and dominate.

In the 60’s and 70’s English clubs went north to find talent and they looked in places were Celtic and Rangers had no scouts. When the smaller clubs are doing well, the bigger once are often out sniffing for their best players. Money has always been the attraction and could lure players out of their settlements.

Dundee FC was founded in 1893 and this year they have been around for 125 years. The manager at the moment is Neil McCann, who started and finished his career as a player with this club, but mostly known for his days at Southampton, Rangers and Hearts. McCann spent 15 years away at other clubs before his return to The Dens Park, a ground with a capacity of 11 506.

The Dee is today a club well organized and with a board and leadership well placed. The captain of the team is a player from Finland. Glen Kamara (22) is the one leading the team, with parents from Sierra Leone, he has been around a bit. Being an unused sub for Arsenal in the Champions League, moving to Southend and Colchester on loan before taking the trip up north last season to join Dundee FC.

Kamara is a talented player and scored one of the goals in yesterdays nations league win for Finland against Greece. But the season start at Dundee FC could have been better, picking up only three points from their first seven games and at the moment, before the international break, resting at the bottom of the table.

Dundee FC, as so many other top flight clubs in Scotland, have a mix of many nations, with English and Scottish players being the majority. But a foreign legion of players from Angola, France and Senegal are also present in the squad.

Looking back in time you will find a number of great names to have appeared for Dundee FC, with Claudio Caniggia being the probably the most famous of them all. The Argentinian international played at Dens Park for a year before moving to Rangers in 2001. Georgian legends Tsemuri Ketsbaia and Zurab Khizanishvili were two other foreign players who played for the club.

A key reason for a number of exotic imports was surely based on the appointment of player manager Ivano Bonetti, who had a broad network of acquaintances, one of them Caniggia, who in a dispute with his current club ended up at Dundee FC.

The big boom of foreign aging superstar imports eventually stopped as Bonetti left, but after his departure it was no fun to be around, with an administration and a sale of the ground was needed to get the club back on track. Before all of this the club had allready been sanctioned and placed at the bottom of the league pyramid.

Before Bonetti was appointed, Dundee FC had not grabbed the biggest headlines in the national press, since the days of that remarkable league trophy win, and of course the year after reaching the semi-final of the European cup.

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The names Ian Ure and Alan Gilzean might tell you something as those two were key players in this Dundee FC team, later being heroes at Arsenal and Tottenham. Ure in the center of defence and Gilzean up front scoring the vital goals. The manager was Bob Shankly, the brother of probably more famous Bill, who had a glorious time with Liverpool.

Sad news about Alan Gilzean’s recent death, at the age of 79, came to our knowledge this summer. He had in his later years returned to Tottenham doing hospitality work after a long period of time out of football. Ian Ure, now 78, had a number of great years with The Gunners, later moving to Manchester United.

Craig Brown, who many might remember as a successful Scotland manager, taking the nation to both the World Cup and the Euro’s, also had a life at Dundee FC. He played in the 1961-62 season, and his nine appearances qualified him to get a winners medal. Two members also worth to mention are Gordon Smith and Bobby Seith. Smith an experienced former Scottish international, aged 37, and Seith a £7 500 signing from Burnley.

The fact that the team was able to win the Scottish league, nicknamed “The Imperial Echoes”, might have been a surprise, but what happened a year after being only a goal away from a European Cup Final was probably more shocking. Dundee FC had to see defeat, after extra time, against AC Milan in that semi-final. Before the game against the Italians, impressive wins against Sporting Lisbon, FC Koln and Anderlecht were fantastic achievements.

Dundee FC has since this glorious time in their history been a club in the elevator between the first and second tier, taking away that period early in this century when they were pushed down to the very bottom. Of great happenings after those events in the early 60’s, you have to count a 1967 semi-final in the UEFA Cup, the 1974 League Cup win, and later two final defeats in the League Cup and Scottish Cup.

As we speak, Dundee FC is currently bottom of the Scottish Premier, but early days and hopefully they can climb up and secure their postion in the top flight. Dundee FC is a club with charm, a proud fanbase and with previous players such as Claudio Caniggia, Alan Gilzean and their special league trophy, why speak more about Crocodile Dundee.

To your information, Scotland lost their friendly against Portugal, 3-1.




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