Saturday, 11 November 2017

Tannadice Park

25th April 1998

Dundee United 0-2 St Johnstone

Some years ago I recall watching a documentary relating Celtic’s three 1967 World Club Championship battles with Argentinian side Racing Club.  There is a quite surreal moment in the match footage, where Celtic’s John Hughes seemingly without provocation, first punches the Racing goalkeeper, then kicks him as he lies squirming on the turf.  A sending off – fair enough, but what makes the incident so weird is Hughes’ account of his actions.  Interviewed many years later, he relates how at the time he had managed to convince himself he could somehow, in front of 80,000 fans, the TV cameras, and three eagle-eyed officials, smack the goalie and maybe, just maybe, no-one would notice. 

I can only imagine Dundee United’s Erik Pederson was afflicted with the same irrational feelings of unassailability this particular afternoon.  The Dane had been irked when Saints’ Leigh Jenkinson had failed to return the ball after United had knocked it out of play for an injury to be attended to, so had casually smacked Jenkinson in the face with an elbow in the passing.  Unfortunately for Pederson, referee Kevin Bisset saw through his Cloak of Invisibility and sent him packing.

And, perhaps inevitably, it was the unsporting JENKINSON who opened the scoring for St Johnstone in the 66th minute, after being set up by George O’BOYLE – the little Irishman grabbing one of his own in injury time.

Eddie Thompson Stand - Tannadice Park, Dundee United.

The Saints repel a United corner-kick.

Tannadice Park, Dundee.

Dundee United 1-2 Crusaders
IRN-BRU Cup Quarter-final
11th November 2017

"Thank Fuck for FYVIE" is, I am guessing, not a phrase which is uttered terribly often at Tannadice, far less anywhere else in the world.  But those four words were spoken by one of the elderly chaps seated in the row behind me this afternoon.

For the aforementioned Fraser's impressive twenty-yarder had, in 55th minute, just de-fibrillated into life this match which for the better part of an hour had threatened to take the prize for perhaps the most moribund encounter I had witnessed for many a long year.

Even with three of their Under-20 squad in the starting line-up, United really should have had more than enough in the tank to deal with the Belfast-based part-timers.  But during that first half, the homesters attempts at breaching the visitors' defences had been just woeful.

Crusaders' equaliser, midway through the second half came courtesy of some equally shoddy home defending; Dave CUSHLEY, with no Arab within six feet of him, heading in a corner from well inside the six-yard box.

The Northern Irish side's keeper Brian Jensen - still best remembered for that single season in the Premier League with Burnley - did his utmost to allow United to immediately retain the lead, by letting an innocuous Billy King attempt to squirm out of his hands and onto the post, before grabbing hold properly at the second attempt. 

United's Patrick N'Koyi then squandered two opportunities to win the match - missing the target on each occasion; the first a near post header, the second a flick from close in.

Just as I had started to interrogate my phone to ascertain if extra-time would be played before any penalty shoot-out, Crusaders scored.  A real route-one job with a hoofed clearance finding its way into the path of substitute Gavin WHYTE, who certainly didn't hang about.

Tannadice Park from Strathmore Street.

The George Fox Stand - Tannadice Park

Looking up Tannadice Street.
The blue structure on the left of the street is the rear of the main stand of Dundee FC's Dens Park.

The George Fox Stand - Tannadice Park

This charming steward addressed me "Hi Handsome", as I was taking my seat.
She clearly needs to visit Specsavers for a new pair.

42-years young Brian Jensen still doing the business.

Patrick N'Koyi really should have hit the target with this header.

Happy Crusaders celebrate Gavin Whyte's added-time winner

Patrick N'Koyi perhaps reflecting upon his two misses late in the game

Panorama of Tannadice Park, Dundee United.

Panorama of Tannadice Park, Dundee United.

I had hoped to repeat my pics from 1998 but, rather foolishly, had not realised not all of the ground would be open this afternoon.  And certainly not that dinky little Jim McLean Stand where I had been seated 19 years ago.

The only pic I was able to recreate was that of the view of the ground from Sandeman Road (below).

Tannadice Park (1998)

The same view in 2017.
The most prominent change is the floodlight towers have either been removed
or decapitated, and replaced by lights along the stand roofs.

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