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Eamonn Bannon

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In the next season 1983-84 United of course gained entry to the European Cup, and on a run of eight games, Eamonn played in them all scoring one against Hamrun Spartans. During the course of this Cup run United repeated their form of a couple of years before but unfortunately the story here was to end in glorious defeat. After taking a 2-0 lead to Rome in the semi-final, United wilted in the intimidating atmosphere against AS Roma and lost 3-0 on the day to a better team. The League campaign was not to be up to the standard seen the previous year and United, with virtually the same team, could only manage third place, ten points behind winners Aberdeen. Eamonn Bannon again missed only a few games and kept up his goal scoring record with another seven, including three penalties. This season also witnessed United reach the Scottish Cup quarter-final again. They went out in a replay to Aberdeen with Eamonn missing out on the game although he had played in the three previous games. The League Cup semi-final was reached with the help of Eamonn’s three goals in nine matches but again Rangers were the finalist at United’s expense winning 3-1 over two legs.

So near yet so far could have been the motto of 1984-85, but not in the League. United completed their programme with another third place, but again well out of the running, being twelve points behind winners Celtic. Eamonn missed only one game and again scored plenty of goals, with ten scored in the campaign, of which four were penalties. He could also boast a double against St Mirren twice at Tannadice that season. So the League brought little joy, but United reached two Cup finals. Due to poor play in one and bad luck in the other, they finished the season with nothing to show for their efforts again. Defeat by Rangers in the League Cup, in one of the poorest games seen for many years, was the culmination of a run during which United had seen off both Celtic and Hearts. Eamonn was in the United side right through the competition and scored twice, one of these against former club Hearts in the second leg of the semi-final. The Scottish Cup defeat at the hands of Celtic was hard to take as United had played the better football only to lose to a couple of late Celtic strikes. Again Eamonn played in every game scoring three times in the early rounds. Another promising run in Europe ended in a 5-4 aggregate defeat by Manchester United, but the matches will be long remembered. Eamonn played in every UEFA Cup tie during the season and scored against ASK Linz in a 7-2 aggregate win.

1985-86 was another good year for the Tangerines. Again perhaps a case of so near yet so far as the Club reached two Cup semi-finals and finished third in the League, only three points behind winners Celtic. United had harboured hopes of another Championship until points were dropped at unexpected places towards the end of the season. Again Eamonn Bannon was a regular in the side and missed only a handful of games. Again he scored often, with eleven in the League including five from the spot. The semi-final defeat by Hearts ended the League Cup run and Eamonn played in all five games. In the Scottish Cup he was in the side for all five games and again scored once. In Europe Eamonn netted twice in the first round first leg away tie against Bohemians of Dublin but United faltered in Switzerland in round three going out to Xamax Neuchatel.

For 1986-87 many of the League Cup and Championship winning side were still at Tannadice. Apart from Eamonn Bannon, of the League Cup sides, Sturrock, Narey, Hegarty, Kirkwood, Milne and Holt were still playing. In addition, from the 82-83 squad, Malpas was available, but many of these were nearing the end of their United careers and a new batch was emerging. This season was therefore to prove a high point for many as the Club reached yet another two finals in the same year. As well as that feat United were to again finish third in the League only nine points behind Rangers who were the winners (Three points for a win had been introduced in this season) There is little doubt that the near 70 competitive games played by United contributed to their failure to take anything from a season into which so much effort was put. With two more sides into the Premier League the campaign ran for 44 matches. Eamonn was included 39 times scoring nine goals, all from open play. He also played in all four League Cup ties on the way to a 2-1 semi-final defeat by Rangers.

It was in the Scottish Cup that United were to suffer their first disappointment, losing to St Mirren 1-0 in the final which had been reached in a run of seven games including two replays. Eamonn was included in the side for four of these games but failed to find the net. By the time United met Gothenberg in the second leg of the UEFA Cup final at Tannadice they were about to play their twelfth game in that tournament, and 72nd match of the season if the three Forfarshire ties and two friendlies are taken into account. As all Arabs know it was a match too far and although the result on the night was a 1-1 draw, United lost 2-1 on aggregate. Eamonn came on for that match as a sub to make his eleventh appearance in the tournament. He later said the match did not rate as one of the highlights of his Tannadice days. “Obviously it was a marvellous achievement to reach the final but I don’t believe that the side, which was a transitional one after the break up of the Championship side, was quite as good as the one that preceded it. However, we got the breaks, but in a season in which we played so many games the final was a disappointment to me.”

1987-88 was to be Eamonn’s last season at United and he took part in two League Cup matches and three in the European Cup Winners Cup. He also played in 26 League games scoring only once in what was a poor campaign by the standard of the seasons before. His last League goal was scored against Dundee in the derby at Dens on 16th January 1988. He then netted twice against the Dark Blues in a Scottish Cup tie at Tannadice to earn a quarter-final replay, which United won on the way to yet another Cup final defeat. Again leading Celtic 1-0 United allowed the Celts to pull back to win with two late goals. This game turned out to be Eamonn’s last appearance in tangerine and he left to join Hearts on 13th July 1988. He then spent five seasons at Tynecastle before leaving to join Edinburgh rivals Hibs. Eamonn retained his registration as a player and was able to turn out for Hibs and in his only game for them he played against his old club Hearts!

He later returned to Hearts for a third spell but this time as a coach. He then went back into playing when he joined Stenhousemuir and was delighted to take part when the Warriors won the Challenge Cup final where of course they beat United on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Eamonn then went into management for a short spell at Falkirk but he was there for only six months. Still not content to be out of the game he loved he began playing for non-League Spartans at the age of 38 and stayed with them for a couple of years before finally hanging up his boots.

In a career that spanned nine seasons Eamonn Bannon played 441 times for United and scored a total of 108 goals, which is a hefty tally even for an attacking midfielder. During his time at Tannadice he helped the Club to two League Cup wins and a Championship. Despite four attempts he was unlucky not to complete his set of Scottish domestic honours with a Scottish Cup medal. He was also twice runner-up in the League Cup and in the UEFA Cup. Add to all that the numerous semi-final appearances and you have a player who has done everything he possibly could for United. You have in fact - A Legend.

Honours With Dundee United

  • Championship Winner 1982-83
  • League Cup Winner 1979, 1980
  • League Cup Runner Up 1981, 1984
  • Scottish Cup Runner-Up 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988
  • UEFA Cup Runner-Up 1987

International Honours whilst with United

Full Caps

  • 1979-80 Belgium
  • 1982-83 Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Canada
  • 1983-84 German Democratic Republic
  • 1985-86 Israel, Rumania, England, Denmark, West Germany

Under 21 Caps

  • 1979-80 Belgium, West Germany, England
  • (Also capped once whilst at Hearts and twice when with Chelsea)

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Tannadice Legends

Doug Smith

Dennis Gillespie

Paul Sturrock

Dave Narey

Maurice Malpas

Paul Hegarty

Eamonn Bannon

Hamish McAlpine

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