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The Club » Dundee United A - Z ( T )

Dundee United A - Z ( T )

See also Clepington Park
When the newly formed Dundee Hibs took over the lease of Clepington Park in May 1909, it had been, literally, stripped bare by its disgruntled former occupants, Dundee Wanderers. Even the wooden boundary fence had been dismantled, but the Hibs committee at least had the benefit that they could start from scratch and develop the ground as they wanted it.
Apart from enclosing it, the priority was to provide changing accommodation. In those days, dressing-rooms were not usually built under the grandstand, but were contained in a stand-alone building known as the pavilion. Presumably, this was following the example of cricket grounds, but the pavilion was a common feature at Scottish football grounds, particularly the smaller ones, until well after World War Two (it endured at Tannadice until 1961).
Some indication of the early development of Tannadice can be had from the following report taken from the city’s Evening Telegraph newspaper of 21 July 1909: ‘The pavilion is a splendid two-storey structure built of brick, containing two large dressing-rooms, two committee rooms, press box and referee’s room. The pavilion will be lit by electricity. The stand on the road side will be the whole length of the field and will seat about 1,000 people.’
It can be seen that neither time was lost nor money spared in ensuring that the ground would be ready for the club’s inaugural match on 18 August. The stand was not completed until midway through the season, but by the time Edinburgh Hibs performed the official opening, earth and ash banking had been built at both ends and the natural slope from Sandeman Street had been similarly consolidated. Added to the impressive new pavilion (which was situated at the corner of the ground where the players’ tunnel is today) it represented remarkable progress in just three months.
Although the original capacity of Tannadice Park was claimed to be 15,000, this seems to have been a generous estimate. It would probably have held no more than 10,000, a figure which is given credence by the fact that for the Qualifying Cup-tie against Forfar Athletic in 1913 (see below) the terracings were specially extended and additional temporary seating erected; all of this was necessary to allow a record crowd to be accommodated, and the reported attendance was 15,000.
No further improvements to the ground took place until Dundee United won promotion to Division One for the first time in 1925. The Scottish League Management Committee informed the club that Tannadice would be subject to an inspection during the close season to ensure that it was up to the standard required for the higher level, and this clearly concentrated the directors’ minds.
Since 1909, Tannadice had been leased, but the board now decided to buy the ground, paying £2,500. Extensive renovations were then begun, the first to the pitch. There was a steep upwards slope towards the corner where the George Fox and East Stands now meet, and this necessitated solid rock being blasted to enable it to be levelled. For the first time, proper terracings were constructed, using the time-honoured method of disused railway sleepers, while the pavilion was given a facelift and new turnstiles were built.
These improvements made the Scottish League’s inspection a formality, but, along with plans for a new 3,000-seat stand, the total cost was reported to be £7,000, a huge sum at the time. The intention was that a share flotation would cover the cost, as well as providing money to improve the playing staff, but it realised only £5,000 when five times that amount had been anticipated. As a result, it was announced that the new stand was to be delayed; in fact, it was 37 years before it materialised!
The various financial crises which beset the club in the 1930s and its general lack of success on the pitch prevented any further ground improvements until 1953. At that time, the north terracing was concreted and four years later the same was done at both ends – the old railway sleepers from 1925 had given value for money. During the close season of 1957, an important development took place with the construction of the Shed, which was opened in September of that year.
As in 1925, it required promotion to provide the impetus for the next major development. In August 1962 the new cantilever stand (now officially named The Jerry Kerr Stand) was opened and four months later the floodlights were used for the first time. The stand was only the second in Britain (after Sheffield Wednesday) to offer spectators a view uninterrupted by pillars, and the intention was to extend it to meet the Shed as and when the necessary finance became available. Other priorities were always found, however, that part of the ground being the last to have seating installed, during the summer of 1997. It is worth mentioning that that part of the ground had been designated a parent-and-child enclosure in 1987. At that time it was improved and covered, using the award from Uefa in recognition of the warm reception accorded by United fans to IFK Gothenburg after the Uefa Cup final; in consequence, it was named the Fair Play Enclosure.
Younger supporters may find it difficult to imagine that, apart from the Shed, the terracing at Tannadice had no cover until the north enclosure was built in 1980. That enjoyed but a brief existence, being demolished in 1991 to make way for the George Fox Stand, which opened the following year. The demands of spectator comfort and the requirements of legislation on ground safety fuelled the move to all-seater stadiums, and Dundee United was well to the fore in making the change. The new East Stand, and seats installed in the modernised Shed, were completed in 1994, and in the autumn of 1997 the final piece of the jigsaw was put in place with the construction of the main stand extension.
The re-development during the 1990s saw more than £6 million spent on the stadium. Tannadice Park’s new capacity of 14,500 is considerably less than in previous years, but the ground is nonetheless capable – in all respects – of meeting the demands of the modern era.
It’s a fact: The first goal at Tannadice Park was scored in the opening match at the ground by John O’Hara of (Edinburgh) Hibernian; to mark the occasion he was presented with a bicycle (Dundee Hibernian’s secretary and founding father Pat Reilly owned a cycle shop). The first goal by Dundee Hibs was scored in the same match by centre forward Jamie Docherty, who received a gold medal to commemorate it.

Record Attendances at Tannadice
For the first 50 years or so, attendance figures were very rarely issued by the club and those given in newspaper reports were often no more than inspired guesswork by football writers. With the exception of Scottish Cup ties, it was not until the 1980s that reliable figures became available, unless a match was all-ticket. Nevertheless, the following gives a guide to the records as they were reported as being set.
7,000: this was the attendance at the match which marked the official opening of Tannadice Park on 18 August 1909; it was not threatened by any of Dundee Hibs’s League matches before World War One.
15,000: Cup-ties proved much bigger attractions than League matches in the club’s early years and this crowd – a huge one for a club of the status of Dundee Hibs – watched a local derby with Forfar Athletic in the Qualifying Cup on 1 November 1913. The ground capacity had to be specially extended for the occasion (see above).
20,000: Following promotion, and major ground improvements, their first-ever meeting with Celtic on 19 September 1925 saw United win 1–0. The match established a new ground record, though not for long.
23,517: Perhaps the most surprising ground record, it was established on 17 April 1926, with St Johnstone the visitors. Despite the local derby aspect to it, with both clubs still fighting relegation, a more modest attendance was anticipated. The match ended 0–0 and both clubs ultimately survived in Division One.
25,000: This remains the largest attendance ever for a League match at Tannadice and was set at the city derby on 3 January 1927. It was also the occasion of United’s first League win against Dundee FC.
26,407: It took Aberdeen’s visit in a Scottish Cup tie on 23 February 1952 to break the record which had stood for a quarter of a century. United did well to hold their Division One opponents, but narrowly lost the replay at Pittodrie.
28,000: The record which will stand for all time as the biggest crowd to watch a match at Tannadice. It was appropriate to the occasion, too: a Fairs Cup tie in which FC Barcelona were beaten 2–0 on 16 November 1966, to complete a 4–1 aggregate win.
It’s another fact: In 1947, United went three months without playing at Tannadice. It was described as the worst winter on record but it seems to have extended into spring as well, because between 11 January and 14 April it was simply impossible to play a home match. As a consequence, the League season continued into May for the first time.
In 1955, Dundee United were a club in debt and going nowhere. Although their existence was not threatened, as it had been 20 years earlier, the post-war boom was almost at an end and crowds at Tannadice were down to around 5,000, only half what they had been at their peak.
George Fox and Johnston Grant, who had just joined the board, brought a new sense of purpose and the restructuring of the club’s finances was begun. This did not only involve directors, because a number of supporters came together with some of the city’s business community to launch the Dundee United Sportsmen’s Club in August 1955.
The aim was to raise desperately needed finance for the football club and they were attracted by a scheme run by Nottingham Forest which produced considerable amounts for that club. A deputation from the Sportsmen’s Club, along with United director Jimmy Littlejohn, visited Nottingham to see at first hand how the English club’s pools operated. Obviously impressed, they returned and, within weeks, had launched Taypools, with the assistance of a personal interest-free loan from club chairman Ernest Robertson.
Taypools was an immediate success, to such an extent that the first payment of £1,000 to the football club was handed over in early 1957, and formed the first instalment of the cost of erecting the Shed. Some indication of the numbers participating in Taypools can be gained from the fact that a total of £30,000 was paid out in prize money during season 1957/58, and the following year, with upwards of 50,000 participants, prize money amounted to £1,000 each week.
Taypools continued until 1991 before being wound up. It had been a phenomenally successful venture, without which it is quite possible Dundee United may well have remained languishing in Division Two.
Though referred to less often than was previously the case, The Terrors is the club’s official nickname, listed in no less an authority than Rothman’s, the Wisden of football.
It is difficult to identify its origin with accuracy. There is no known reference to it pre World War Two and the most convincing explanation is that it was earned in the famous Scottish Cup victory over Celtic in January 1949. That was the occasion when United, then a mid-table Division Two club, were given no chance of restraining the Celtic tide, despite the fact the match was at Tannadice. The final score of United 4 Celtic 3 tells less than the full story. United had no fewer than three ‘goals’ disallowed and simply refused to be disheartened when Celtic cancelled out leads of 2–0 and 3–2. Showing tremendous fighting spirit, Willie MacFadyen’s part-timers ignored the stamina-sapping conditions to score the decisive goal. It was a performance which deserved to have its place permanently enshrined in the club’s annals, and the adoption of a nickname which evokes the players responsible for it is indeed apposite.
In 1963, ‘The Terrors of Tannadice’ was recorded by Scots ‘singer’ Hector Nicol, and for many years it blared out from the Tannadice loudspeakers as United took the field. A classic of its genre it has now achieved cult status among Arabs, none of whom will ever admit to actually being old enough to have heard it played!
Billy THOMSON (born 1958)
Having won seven full caps while with St Mirren, Thomson signed for United in 1984 and spent the first season as cover for Hamish McAlpine. After a serious injury to Hamish, Billy took over in goal in October 1985 and wasn't to give up his place as No. 1 until 1992. He was outstanding throughout the UEFA Cup campaign of 1986/87, but was injured in the first leg of the final in Gothenburg. Thomson also played in Scottish Cup finals for United in 1987 and 1988 and became almost as firm a favourite with the fans as his predecessor. Not many players could have followed in Hamish McAlpine's footsteps but the big keeper coped with the task admirably, on and off the pitch.
Thomson left the club in 1992, joining Jim McLean’s brother, Tommy, at Motherwell for a fee of some £60,000 and is now a goalkeeping coach with Rangers.

Please check back soon for an updated entry.
The history of Dundee Hibs/United as a modest club, playing in the lower divisions and constantly battling against financial difficulties, meant that they were constrained from paying sizeable transfer fees until the1960s. The standard of player the club was able to attract also meant that, during the same period, large transfer fees received were few and far between. The record transfer fee received by the club (based on press reports) has risen as follows:
£1,000 from St Mirren for Jimmy Howieson, 1925; from Hearts for Andy Miller, 1927
£1,250 from Rangers for Jimmy Simpson, 1927
£4,050 from Newcastle United for Duncan Hutchison, 1929
£8,000 from Clyde for Johnny Coyle, 1957
£30,000 from Liverpool for Ron Yeats, 1961
£50,000 from Newcastle United for Ian Mitchell, 1970
£110,000 from Aston Villa for Andy Gray, 1975
£400,000 from West Ham United for Ray Stewart, 1979
£750,000 from Tottenham Hotspur for Richard Gough, 1986
£950,000 from Coventry City for Kevin Gallacher, 1990
£4,000,000 from Rangers for Duncan Ferguson, 1993

The record transfer fee paid by the club (based on press reports) has risen as follows:
£3,000 to Alloa Athletic for Dennis Gillespie, 1959
£10,000 to Kilmarnock for Kenny Cameron, 1968
£27,500 to Hamilton Accies for Paul Hegarty, 1974
£40,000 to Dumbarton for Tom McAdam, 1975
£60,000 to Dumbarton for John Bourke, 1977
£100,000 to Motherwell for Willie Pettigrew, 1979
£165,000 to Chelsea for Eamonn Bannon, 1979
£200,000 to Newcastle United for Darren Jackson, 1988; to Red Star Belgrade for Miodrag Krivokapic, 1988; to Sporting Lisbon for Raphael Meade, 1988; to BVV Den Bosch for Freddy van der Hoorn, 1989
£350,000 to Newcastle United for Michael O’Neill, 1989; to San Lorenzo for Victor Ferreyra, 1991
£600,000 to Partizan Belgrade for Gordan Petric, 1993
£750,000 to Coventry City for Steven Pressley, 1995
Tommy TRAYNOR (1943 – 1993)
Tommy Traynor (picture courtesy of DC Thomson & Co Ltd.)
Traynor, a speedy winger, joined United from Hearts in 1970, in a player exchange with Wilson Wood. He was a regular first team choice throughout the early 70s and played in the Fairs Cup matches against Grasshoppers and Sparta Prague in 1970, scoring in the 3-1 defeat in Prague. More of a provider than a goalscorer, Traynor nonetheless hit three goals on the way to United's first ever Scottish Cup fina in 1974l, one being a last minute equaliser against Dunfermline in the quarter-finals. Traynor made an appearance in the final, coming on as a substitute for Doug Smith. He scored a rare hat-trick against his old club Hearts in a 5-0 win at Tannadice in 1974, and played a handful of games in the first year of the Premier Division before leaving for Falkirk in 1976.
Sadly, Tommy died in 1993 but he is remembered fondly by United fans and one of the Federation of Supporters’ Clubs is named in his memory.
Largely as a result of the transfer of Jerren Nixon in 1993, United undertook a four-match end-of-season tour to his home in the Caribbean islands in May and June of the following year. As it turned out, United’s Scottish Cup triumph the week before departure meant the visit was more like a carnival, and the players quite rightly enjoyed themselves.
Three games were played against the Trinidad & Tobago national team, all of which were drawn 1–1. Because a trophy had been put up for competition by the Trinidad & Tobago FA, a winner had to be found and the hosts won it on a penalty shoot-out. A further game was also played against a Tobago XI, which ended 4–2 in United’s favour.
In 2003, Manager Ian McCall brought Collin Samuel and Jason Scotland, both Trinidad & Tobago internationalists to Tannadice.
The two occasions on which United had contact with Turkish football were not happy ones. The first occurred when they were drawn against Bursaspor in the second round of the 1974/75 European Cup Winners’ Cup competition. United could not find a way past the Turks’ defence in the goalless first leg at Tannadice, but the visitors had clearly come intent on preventing such a loss. United were reported to be subjected to intimidation on their visit to Bursa, including being kept awake by an all-night racket outside their hotel. The atmosphere was no less hostile in the ground and this doubtless contributed to their 0–1 defeat in a match they ought to have won.
The qualifying round of the UEFA Cup in 1997 paired Tommy McLean’s team with Trabzonspor. With Turkish football enjoying something of a renaissance following the national side’s performance in the Euro96 championship, United were clearly the underdogs. However, a controlled performance in Trabzon restricted the home side to a 1–0 lead and that from a disputed penalty. The return at Tannadice produced a determined attacking display from United which had its reward in a goal after an hour. However, they could not create a second and, as so often happens in Europe, a late defensive lapse allowed the Turks to equalise, rendering the tie irretrievable.



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