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The Club » Dundee United A - Z ( S )

Dundee United A - Z ( S )

One of the decisions of the Scottish Football Association at its inaugural meeting in March 1873 was that ‘. . . the clubs connected with this association subscribe for a challenge cup to be played for annually . . .’ The following October the competition began and in the first final Queen’s Park beat another Glasgow club, Clydesdale.
Prior to 1921, entry to the Scottish Cup was automatic only for clubs in Division One. Those in Division Two, such as Dundee Hibs, along with non-League clubs, had to enter the Qualifying Cup, with the last 16 being granted access to the major trophy.
Dundee Hibs never won a Scottish Cup tie. They succeeded in qualifying in their second season as a League club and their first-ever Scottish Cup tie took place, appropriately, at Hampden Park. They lost 2–4 to Queen’s Park in a first-round tie on 8 February 1913. The club had become Dundee United before Scottish Cup success was tasted for the first time, in a 5–1 first-round win over the students of Aberdeen University at Tannadice on 24 January 1925. United did not beat a League club in a Scottish Cup tie until 1928, East Fife being the victims.
United did not reach the semi-final of the competition until 1963, losing 2–5 to Rangers at Hampden Park. Their first appearance in the final ended in defeat by a similar margin, Celtic scoring three times without reply in 1974.
Since then however, United have contested seven Scottish Cup finals, with the 1994 victory over Rangers their only triumph. The team which brought the trophy to Tannadice Park for the first time was: van de Kamp, Cleland, Malpas, McInally, Petric, Welsh, Bowman, Hannah, McLaren (sub. Nixon, 83), Brewster, Dailly. Sub. not used: Bollan. Scorer: Craig Brewster (47 minutes). Attendance: 37,450 (at the time, Hampden Park was undergoing re-construction and the capacity was limited to 38,000. All tickets were sold, United’s allocation being 12,000, and it seems likely most of the missing 550 would be accounted for from within those allocated to sponsors). Man of the match award: Gordan Petric. Manager: Ivan Golac
It’s a fact: Although United failed to win any of their six Scottish Cup finals between 1974 and 1991, this is not a record. Hibernian have lost the last eight finals in which they have appeared, although they are spread over a much longer period (1914– 2001).

Biggest victories
The 14–0 demolition of hapless Nithsdale Wanderers in 1931 also stands as the club’s record win in all competitions. The nearest the club has come to that record was 7–0 against amateurs Arbroath Athletic (h) in 1927. The same scoreline constitutes the record away victory in the Cup, United scoring seven without reply at Arbroath in 1988.
Biggest defeats
Motherwell hold the record for a Scottish Cup win at Tannadice. The Fir Park club were a division higher than United when they triumphed 5–1 in 1939, and the same was the case when Third Lanark won 4–0 20 years later. But no such excuse could be offered in mitigation of the 0–4 drubbing by Aberdeen in 1972. Raith Rovers 7 United 0 (1957) and Hearts 6 United 0 (1926) represent the most decisive Cup exits made by the club.
The most Scottish Cup ties played by United in one season was nine, including four replays, in 1988.
The most remarkable Scottish Cup tie involving United happened in 1968 against Hearts at Tannadice. Hearts had established a two-goal lead after only 18 minutes; United replied decisively by scoring four times, then Hearts pulled one back – all before half-time. The Norwegian winger Finn Seemann had the opportunity to restore United’s two-goal advantage from the penalty spot, but scorned it. Almost immediately, Hearts equalised, only for United to regain the lead four minutes later. A penalty was awarded to the Edinburgh club; they took advantage of it and then, with just five minutes remaining, scored what proved to be the winner in an 11-goal thriller.
The overall record of Dundee Hibs/United in the Scottish Cup, 1913– 2004 (77 seasons) is:
P 251 W 110 D 68 L 75 F 445 A 337 (57%)
The SFA was formed in March 1873 by eight clubs, all but two of them from Glasgow: Clydesdale, Dumbreck, Eastern, Granville, Kilmarnock, Queen’s Park, Third Lanark Volunteer Reserves and Vale of Leven (Alexandria, Dunbartonshire). Dundee Hibernian were accepted into membership in May 1909, two months after their formation, allowing them to participate in the Qualifying Cup which provides access for smaller clubs to the Scottish Cup.
The Scottish League was formed in April 1890 by the following clubs: Abercorn (Paisley), Cambuslang (Lanarkshire), Celtic, Cowlairs (Glasgow), Dumbarton, Heart of Midlothian, Renton (Dunbartonshire), St Bernard’s (Edinburgh), St Mirren, Rangers, Third Lanark (Glasgow), Vale of Leven (Alexandria, Dunbartonshire).
The first Scottish League matches were played the following August, but St Bernard’s could not participate as they had been expelled from the SFA for paying players, professionalism being outlawed at the time. Although Renton began the League programme, they were expelled after only five matches for the same reason, so the first League season had only one division of ten clubs.
Division Two was introduced in 1893, also with ten clubs, but although Division One gradually expanded to include twice that number, admission of new clubs to the League was limited and there were only 12 in Division Two when Dundee Hibs secured election to it in 1910. There was no promotion or relegation between the divisions, clubs in Division One deciding at the AGM whether or not to admit a club from below at the expense of one of their own number; unsurprisingly, this rarely happened.
The same clubs unilaterally decided to suspend Division Two during World War One, reducing the competition to only one division of 20 clubs. Without voting power, there was nothing Division Two clubs could do, though when their division was not reinstated following the return of peacetime, they became increasingly frustrated, their anger eventually leading to their breaking away from the Scottish League in 1921 to form their own competition, which they called the Central League.
This forced the bigger clubs to capitulate and Division Two was not only reintroduced a year later, but with automatic promotion and relegation for the top and bottom two clubs. However, there was a catch, and it eventually ensnared Dundee Hibs. Twenty clubs had been admitted to form the new Division Two, but the League insisted that this number be reduced to 18 for the following season, the bottom two clubs thus losing their places. After finishing second last, Dundee Hibs were again out of the League, just 12 months after being readmitted.
Such an event could not have come at a worse time for the Hibs and was very nearly the cause of the club going out of business. However, after the first of many takeovers of the club, a new dawn broke at Tannadice and within a further 12 months the Hibs were re-elected to Division Two, reaching Division One for the first time in 1925. Since then the club’s participation in the Scottish League was interrupted only by the suspension of the competition for World War Two.

Scottish League Status
1910 Elected to Division Two; 1910–15 Division Two; (1915–21 Division Two suspended); 1921/22 Division Two; 1923 re-elected to Division Two; 1923–25 Division Two; 1925–27 Division One;1927–29 Division Two; 1929/30 Division One; 1930/31 Division Two; 1931/32 Division One; 1932–39 Division Two; (1939–46 Scottish League suspended); 1946–56 B Division; 1956–60 Division Two; 1960–75 Division One; 1975–95 Premier Division; 1995/96 First Division; 1996– Premier Division/ Scottish Premier League.
Prior to 1957, the terracing at the west end of Tannadice Park had always been open and the building of a new enclosure provided some protection from the elements for around 7,000 fans. The Shed was opened for the derby visit of St Johnstone on 21 September 1957 and quickly developed into the place where younger supporters congregated – and generated most noise.
To comply with the demand for all-seated stadiums, the roofing was renewed and seats installed in 1993. With heavy hearts Arabs accepted that progress was inevitable, but few if any can view the new structure without a great sense of longing for just one more chance to do the Shed Boys’ dance!
The first occasion on which United’s shirts carried sponsorship was in the 1985 Scottish Cup final. The sponsorship of VG Foodstores was engineered by a certain Eddie Thompson and, not put off by the club’s failure to bring the Cup home, extended the sponsorship into the season which followed and the one after that.
Belhaven breweries took up the mantle in 1987, and held it for the next six seasons. United had no shirt sponsor during 1993/94, with the exception of the last, and rather important, match. The car manufacturer Rover agreed a two-year sponsorship, starting with the Cup final. When the Rover deal had run its course in 1996, it was replaced by the logo of the telecommunications company Telewest, which also signed a two-year deal. The Telewest sponsorship in fact continued until the end of season 2003; one of the longest running sponsorship deals in Scottish football. Morning Noon and Night took over for season 2003/04 and this has since been extended until the end of season 2005/06.
Jimmy SIMPSON ( 1908 -1972)
He was signed by manager Jimmy Brownlie from Newburgh West End juniors in 1924 and made his debut for United in Division One the following year at the age of 17 as a wing half. Despite his height (six feet) he was both mobile and fast and quickly matured beyond his years. A regular during the club’s first two years at the top level, it became inevitable that United could not retain him following relegation in 1927, and he was transferred to Rangers for the then sizeable fee of £1,000.
At Ibrox he was converted into a centre half and became an integral part of the team which dominated the Scottish game during the 1930s. Simpson won five League championships and four Scottish Cups, adding four League caps and 14 full international caps to his collection. For good measure, he also found the time to qualify as an engineer, which became his vocation after he had finished playing.
His son Ronnie’s career was, if anything, even more notable, culminating in his arrival at Celtic in time to be part of the team which captured the European Cup in 1967.
See also Czechoslovakia
Slovakia does not have a distinguished football history. With the exception of Slovan Bratislava, all of the famous Czechoslovak clubs are in what is now the Czech Republic, from which Slovakia split in 1993.
Nonetheless, United’s only visit thus far to the new state ended in defeat. Hopes of a run in the European Cup Winners’ Cup – which the club entered in their own right for the first time in 1994 – were dashed by the unknowns of Tatran Presov. The damage was really done in the first leg at Tannadice, where the visitors twice led before United restored some respectability with a 3–2 scoreline. A first-minute strike by Jerren Nixon in Presov offered United hope, but the Slovaks scored three times for a 4–3 aggregate win.
Doug SMITH (born 1937)
Doug Smith (picture courtesy of DC Thomson & Co Ltd.)
One of the longest-serving employees of the club, he joined from Aberdeen Lads’ Club in 1958. A rock-solid centre half, Doug became a regular only after fellow Aberdonian Ron Yeats left for Liverpool in 1961. Thereafter he was a permanent fixture in the side until his retirement in 1976, being very unfortunate not to have won any honours from a career of sustained excellence. He made a total of 587 first-team appearances for the club, then a record, and had the almost unbelievable distinction of never once being cautioned! He was captain of United on the occasion of the club’s first Scottish Cup final in 1974 and also won a runners-up medal in the Summer Cup in 1965.
During the latter stages of his career he bought the popular Athletic Bar close to Tannadice and devoted himself to running the business following his retirement. He joined the board at Tannadice in November 1983 and was elected vice chairman nine years later. In that role he served on numerous SFL and SFA committees and became President of the Scottish Football League in 1997.
Doug became Chairman in October 2000 following the resignation of Jim McLean and brought his usual quiet dignity and a steady hand to the office at what was a very difficult period for the club. He left the board in January 2002, following an acrimonious egm.
Reggie SMITH (born 1912; died 2004)
A former England international and the son of a South African rugby international, he was appointed United manager in September 1954, following the resignation of Willie MacFadyen.
He joined Dundee as a player in 1945 and remained with the club when his playing career was over; he left his post as trainer/coach at Dens Park to join United. Smith resigned to take over as manager of Falkirk (then in Division One) in January 1957 and three months later led his new club to victory in the Scottish Cup. He later returned to England, managing one of his former clubs, Millwall.
Walter SMITH (born 1948)
Walter was first brought to the club by manager Jerry Kerr in 1966 but did not feature regularly in the first team until 1973, under Jim McLean. He played in United’s first ever Scottish Cup Final in 1974 but was transferred to Dumbarton in 1975 after making 127 appearances for the club. However McLean clearly saw potential in his coaching ability and Walter was soon back with United as a player/coach, then as assistant manager. He established his reputation as coach both with United and the Scottish international team and so highly was he thought of, he was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1986. It came as a blow therefore when just two months later, he left to become assistant-manager of Rangers under Graeme Souness.

Walter took over manager of Rangers in 1991, a position he held with great success until 1997. He was manager at Everton from 1998 until 2002 and is now assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
When United visited South Korea for a pre-season tour in 1971 it was regarded as missionary work. That said, they found the standard of football higher than had been anticipated, as results of 1–0, 3–3 and 4–3 illustrated. The drawn match was against the South Korean national side which has since made great strides in the World Cup, qualifying for finals of 1990 and 1994 and reaching the semi finals as co-hosts in 2002.
There cannot be a Dundee United supporter who does not know that the club has the unique experience of being drawn against Barcelona twice in Europe and winning all four ties. What made the triumph of 1966 all the more remarkable was that, while the tie represented United’s European debut, the wealthy Spanish club had already contested two European Cup finals and were holders of the Fairs Cup trophy – until they met Jerry Kerr’s lads! Fittingly, the second leg at Tannadice attracted a record attendance of 28,000, one which will never be exceeded.
If United were underdogs in 1966, they were even less fancied when the two clubs renewed their acquaintance in the Uefa Cup 20 years on. Barca were managed by Terry Venables and had a galaxy of international stars including Victor, Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes. Nevertheless, within four minutes Kevin Gallacher had given United a lead which they held without too much trouble. But the fact they could not find a second was held to be their weakness when the cauldron of the Nou Camp had to be endured two weeks later. The Spanish club had levelled the tie before half time, but late strikes by John Clark and Iain Ferguson brought them crashing down as history repeated itself.
Nor have United fared too badly in other meetings with Spanish clubs. They did lose 0–2 to Salamanca in a tournament played at Leon in June 1975, but reversed that in beating Espanyol during the Costa Dorada tournament in August 1983. The only other occasion on which Spanish opposition was encountered came in August 1989 when John Toshack brought Real Sociedad to Tannadice for Paul Sturrock’s testimonial match, which United won 1–0.
Derek STARK (born 1958)
A Scotland schoolboy cap at U-18 level, Derek completed his education before pursuing football as his career, joining up at Tannadice in the summer of 1976. Within two years he had won a regular first-team slot and was a member of both League Cup-winning teams as well as making a telling contribution to the 1983 League championship triumph.
A sturdy and aggressive attacking midfielder, he made equally important contributions to some of the club’s finest performances in Europe. Sadly, his career was truncated due to a serious knee injury and he retired at the age of 26 in 1985. He was given a testimonial by the club and subsequently took up a career with Fife Police.
In addition to being near neighbours, St Johnstone were keen rivals of Dundee Hibs from the very beginning. However, their first contest was fought out not on the pitch, but at the Scottish League’s annual general meeting in June 1910 when, contrary to expectations, the Hibs were elected ahead of St Johnstone.
That no ill feeling endured was illustrated by the fact that, two months later, the Perth club accepted an invitation to play a pre-season friendly at Tannadice and no doubt derived considerable satisfaction from their 2–0 win. St Johnstone did join the Hibs in Division Two just a year later and the first League encounter came in September 1911 at the Recreation Grounds, one of three homes the club has had.
St Johnstone’s progress outstripped that of their old rivals and they were a Division One club for most of the inter-war years. United met them only in three Division One seasons and one in Division Two during that period.
It was a different story after the war, however, the clubs sharing membership of the Scottish League’s lower division from 1946 until they were promoted together in 1960. They continued to meet regularly in Division One, though this has rarely happened in the Premier Division, which the Saints have been members of on only seven occasions.
The playing record against St Johnstone in major competitions is:
Scottish League (total): P 124 W 47 D 31 L 46 F 184 A 187
Premier Division: P 44 W 19 D 13 L 12 F 62 A 44
Scottish Cup: the clubs have been drawn together just twice, in 1933 and 1991 (semi-final).
Record: P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 F 5 A 5
League Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1948, 1950, 1958, 1966, 1975, 1982, 1999 and 2001.
Record: P 14 W 12 D 2 L 0 F 42 A 19
Summer Cup: the clubs met in sectional ties in both 1964 and 1965.
Record: P4 W 4 D 0 L 0 F 11 A 1
Notable transfers to: Bill Taylor (1933), Benny Rooney (1966), George Fleming (1980), Ian Gibson (1983), Paul Hegarty, John O’Neil (1995), Alan Main (1995)
Notable transfers from: Jimmy Howieson (1925), Johnny Hart (1926), Stuart Beedie (1984), Danny Griffin (2000).
The clubs did not meet until United made their first appearance in Division One in 1925. St Mirren were also opponents in the club’s three other seasons in that division and also one in Division Two in 1935/36. United did not meet them again on League business until they were promoted in 1960.
League meetings took place on a regular basis between that year and 1992, when St Mirren were relegated, having been members of the Premier Division in all but two out of its first 17 seasons.
The playing record against St Mirren in major competitions is:
Scottish League (total): P 96 W 44 D 21 L 31 F 151 A 119
Premier Division: P 64 W 28 D 15 L 21 F 94 A 70
Scottish Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1961, 1964, 1968, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1985. They also contested the 1987 final.
Record: P 10 W 2 D 1 L 7 F 9 A 14
League Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1963, 1969, 1985, 1988, 1992, 1993 and 1994.
Record: P 9 W 9 D 0 L 0 F 19 A 7
Notable transfers to: Jimmy Howieson (1925), Jackie Copland (1976)
Notable transfers from: Wilson Humphries (1957), Archie Knox (1972), Billy Thomson (1984)
It’s a fact: United’s 1-4 Scottish Cup defeat at Love Street in 1977 is one of only three occasions on which they have gone out of the competition to a club from a lower division.
Dundee Hibs’ first encounter with Stenhousemuir was in the Central League in 1920 and both clubs proceeded to the resurrected Scottish League Division Two the following season.
Dundee United were in the same division as the Larbert club in all but four seasons between 1923 and 1960; having met on a total of 68 occasions in all competitions during that period, the clubs have managed just three in the 43 years since.
The last meeting between the clubs was the final of the League Challenge Cup at McDiarmid Park in November 1995. Stenhousemuir were the better team over 120 goalless minutes, so justice was done when they won the penalty shoot-out 5–4.
The playing record against Stenhousemuir in major competitions is:
Scottish League: P 54 W 25 D 5 L 24 F 127 A 109
Scottish Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1929 and 1957.
Record: P 4 W 2 D 2 L 0 F 8 A 2
League Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1948, 1950, 1951, 1956, 1960 and 1972.
Record: P 12 W 4 D 3 L 5 F 28 A 26
Albion were admitted to B Division in 1947, two years after their foundation, the town’s previous League club King’s Park having disbanded during the war.
United’s first League meeting with them was in September 1947. Thereafter they met Albion irregularly, six seasons in total in the lower division and four in Division One.
The clubs have not met in the League since season 1967/68, the last which Albion spent in the top division. The home match that season saw United record their biggest post-war League win, 9–0.
The playing record against Stirling Albion in major competitions is:
Scottish League: P 20 W 7 D 2 L 11 F 41 A 38
Scottish Cup: United’s 2–0 win at Forthbank Stadium in 1997 was the first occasion on which the clubs had met in the competition.
League Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1952, 1960 and 1996.
Record: P 5 W 2 D 0 L 3 F 7 A 17
The clubs met in the Scottish Cup in 1930 (see below), Stranraer gaining full membership of the Scottish League only when B Division was extended in 1955. Their first League encounter with United came in November and the clubs were together, in what became Division Two, for the following four seasons until United were promoted.
The meeting between the clubs in the League Challenge Cup at Stair Park in August 1995 (which United won 2–0) was their first since the Division Two match at the same ground in January 1960.
The playing record against Stranraer in major competitions is :
Scottish League: P 10 W 4 D 3 L 3 F 15 A 13
Scottish Cup: the clubs have been drawn together just once, in 1930 when Stranraer were a non-League club. United won 2–0 at Stair Park.
League Cup: the clubs were drawn together in 1957 and 1959.
Record: P 3 W 3 D 0 L 0 F 9 A 2
Notable transfers from: Jackie Copland (1970), Derek Frye (1978?)
Paul STURROCK (born 1956)
Paul Sturrock (picture courtesy of DC Thomson & Co Ltd.)
One of Dundee United’s all-time greats, it is no accident that his career (1974–1989) coincided with the most successful period in the club’s history, in terms of honours both individually and collectively.
He joined from Luncarty Juniors in 1974 and made his first-team debut later that year at the age of 17 against Jiul Petrosani in a European Cup Winners’ Cup tie. With the exception of the Scottish Cup he subsequently won every honour the domestic game has to offer and was named Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers Association in 1982. “Luggy” shares the distinction, along with strike partner Davie Dodds, of being the only United players to have scored 100 Premier Division goals. He also holds the Premier record of scoring 5 goals in one game.
He retired from playing due to injury at the end of season 1988/89 and became first team coach at Tannadice. He was appointed manager of St Johnstone in 1993 and soon established his managerial credentials. His affection for Dundee United remained and he could not resist the opportunity to return to the club as Manager in 1998. Unfortunately, despite a promising start, he could not turn around the fortunes of a club at that time in decline and resigned his position after just two league matches in August 2000, citing personal reasons. Two months later, he was appointed manager of Plymouth Argyle and, perhaps free from the heavy burden of expectation at Tannadice, transformed the club and won the Division Three Championship in 2003. Plymouth were on course for the Division Two title when he was appointed manager of Premiership side Southampton in March 2004.
Dundee United’s first ever substitute was centre forward Billy Hainey, who was introduced during the second half of the League Cup tie with Dundee at Tannadice on 13 August 1966.
Substitutes often change the course of a match following their introduction, but none in Dundee United’s history has done so as dramatically as Owen Coyle in the 1996promotion/relegation play-off second leg against Partick Thistle. When he came on, the club was trailing 0-1 and heading for a second season in the First Division. A last-minute equaliser sent the match into extra-time, during the second period of which Coyle scored the goal which returned the club to the Premier Division.
This competition was first played during wartime, but was briefly resurrected in 1964 and 1965. Neither Celtic nor Rangers took part, but the remaining 16 Division One clubs were split into sections of four; to maximise interest, this was done on a geographical basis. Thus, on each occasion United’s section included Aberdeen, Dundee and St Johnstone. Aberdeen won it in 1964 and went on to the final, where they lost to Hibernian.
United won all six sectional matches the following year and then beat Partick Thistle in the semi-final. Their opponents in the two-legged final were Motherwell and United, with their Scandinavian contingent in top form, were clear favourites despite having only half of their Scandinavian contingent available (Persson and Wing were on international duty with Sweden). However, they went down 1–3 in the first leg, though this did not prevent 15,000 turning up at Tannadice, fully expecting United to overturn the deficit. An early goal suggested their optimism was well founded, but in the event Motherwell held out against constant United pressure to take the cup 3–2 on aggregate.
The competition was then discontinued.
For most Arabs, mention of Sweden will undoubtedly conjure up visions of IFK Gothenburg and the two unforgettable matches of the Uefa Cup final in 1987 (see Uefa Cup).
Of course, United have links with Sweden going back many years earlier. It was in September 1964 that manager Jerry Kerr first saw Orjan Persson, a left winger with the Gothenburg club Orgryte, star against Dunfermline in a Fairs Cup tie at East End Park. It subsequently took him almost three months, but eventually he got his man, and Persson proved his worth many times over during his spell at Tannadice, before leaving for Rangers in 1967.
For most of his time with United the winger was accompanied by Lennart Wing, an iron-hard wing half who was a resolute servant to the club. Each won several caps while at Tannadice, the first time the club had had a full international.
Surprisingly perhaps, almost 30 years were to elapse before a Swede again donned a United jersey. Tommy McLean had been in the manager’s office only six weeks when striker Kjell Olofsson was signed from the Norwegian League club FC Moss. The following week he was joined by midfielder Lars Zetterlund of Orebro, who had been a member of the IFK Gothenburg team which defeated United in that Uefa Cup final. They were subsequently joined by another Swede, Magnus Skoldmark.
Apart from that final, United have faced Swedish opposition in the Uefa Cup on one other occasion. It involved AIK Stockholm in the first round of 1984/85, United progressing after overturning a first-leg deficit of 0–1 by winning 3–0 at Tannadice.
The two remaining encounters with Swedish clubs resulted in defeats for United. Former European Cup finalists Malmo FF won 3–1 during a pre-season tour of Scandanavia in 1982, while old friends IFK Gothenburg returned to Tannadice in November 1989 for Paul Hegarty’s testimonial match, winning 2–0.
The club’s most recent visit to the country came as part of pre-season training in July 1997.Two wins over Third Division Vivalla (by 11–0, the club’s biggest victory since 1931) and Second Division Eskilstuna (2–1) were followed by participation in a rather stange tournament in Norrkoping. The other clubs involved were the home club, IFK, and Blackburn Rovers with each match lasting only fifty minutes. Both ended goalless, but United came down to earth in the final match, losing 0–4 to Lars Zetterlund’s former colleagues, Orebro.
United’s first visit to Switzerland came in the first round of the 1970/71 Fairs Cup. The opposition was provided by Grasshoppers of Zurich and the first leg at Tannadice seemed to herald the end of United’s interest as the Swiss took a two-goal lead. However, inspired by midfield dynamo Alex Reid, United stormed back to win the tie 3–2, then held on for a goalless draw in the return.
During a pre-season tour to the German Federal Republic in 1984, the United party made a brief detour to play two matches against non-league opposition in Switzerland, winning one and drawing the other.
The following season, the club returned in more serious vein when the third round of the 1985/86 Uefa Cup paired them with Neuchatel Xamax. In the first leg, which was played in a snowstorm at Tannadice, United won 2–1 after the Swiss team had led. The return was always going to be tricky, but the task seemed to be eased considerably when Eamonn Bannon gave United an early lead. Sadly, keeper Billy Thomson gifted the Swiss an equaliser and they scored again to take the game into extra-time. A controversial refereeing decision handed the game to Neuchatel, a goal being awarded when television evidence clearly showed the ball not to have crossed the line. The following year Dave Dodds joined Neuchatel for a reported fee of £200,000.



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