Dundee United fans rocked by the news of Jim McLean’s death have flocked to Tannadice to lay tributes to the legend.
Beautiful Sunday became a United anthem at the peak of the club’s success under McLean’s stewardship, and while the sadness of the news cast a sombre tone outside the ground, Daniel Boone’s 1970s hit rang loud in the memory of those who had enjoyed the glory days.
At the fence where the collection of scarves, shirts and floral tributes steadily grew, Paul Donoghue shared a personal anecdote which gave an insight into a side of Jim McLean very different from the character many saw on the touchline.
Paul’s wife, Sandra, worked in what was formerly Brambles coffee shop in Broughty Ferry where Jim and his wife, Doris, were regular customers.
Paul, 64, said: “The owners were Dundee supporters and with Sandra and myself being United daft there was always a bit of banter.
“One day Jim and Doris were in and there was the usual ribbing going on.
“A wee while later someone appeared from Tannadice and asked for Sandra.
“Jim had sent down a couple of hospitality tickets for the weekend game and a wee message to say it was for putting up with the Dundee fans.
“It was a lovely thing to have done and I remember the game – it was St Johnstone and we won,” said Paul.
Perth-based Arabs Colin Smail, 61, and Bill Lawson, 62, travelled through from the Fair City to put t-shirt tributes on the Tannadice railings.
Bill said: “I’ve been a United supporter since the age of eight.
“I think it was maybe a thing about them being the underdog at that time.
“My brother was a Rangers boy and I just didn’t want to follow them.
“I loved the set up at United and the way the young players were brought through and Jim McLean gave us some great days.”
Colin added: “What he did for the club was just amazing.
“You have got to put him up there with the great managers, the likes of Stein and Clough, for what he achieved with Dundee United.
“I doubt we will ever see a figure like Jim McLean in terms of what he achieved as a manager with this club.”
Fans united in Dens league triumph as the day of days
Among fans reminiscing in Tannadice Street’s winter sharpness, one highlight stood out above all others.
“The day we won the league over there,” said Colin, gesturing over the road to Dens Park.
“That for me sums up Jim McLean.
“We played with 12 players that year and to see him being lifted up on the shoulders of the team is something that will never leave me.”
Alan Strachan, 60, agreed the 1983 Premier League triumph at the home of their fiercest footballing rivals was the sweetest day in a lifetime of wearing tangerine and black.
“The best thing that ever happened to Dundee United was the day Jim McLean came across the road to here,” said Alan.
“I was there and I can still see that half smile coming from him when he lifted up his arms.
“You knew that day meant a lot to him and for what he did for United he deserves all the respect he gets.”
Affection for the underdog drew fans to Tannadice
Gordon Davidson, 64, a fan of the Terrors for half a century, said: c
“My whole family were Dundee supporters and I think I just took an affection for United.
“The first time I saw them was against Dundee and there was something about them that just attracted me to United, and from then I was hooked.
“When he came over from Dens he just transformed United and I’ve seen all of the big games.
“I remember the two-all with the mighty Manchester United and the European games, so it is so hard to pick out just one memory.
“But I think it would have to be at Dens when we won the league and that smile on his face getting carried on the shoulders of the players.”
Dark Blue Andrew Hogg, 53, said: “I got a jolt when I heard the news this weekend because whoever you support the man was a complete legend in Scottish football.
“I wanted to come down here and I’ll hang my Dundee scarf in tribute to him because he did so much for football and that is what it’s about when you lose a figure like Jim McLean.
“It is just a shame that the situation is the way it is just now and he may not get the send off he really deserves.
“I’m sure a lot of folk will come down here and lay their tributes, but if there hadn’t been the pandemic I’m sure the City Square would have been packed with fans today.”