It’s not often I disagree with Jim Spence. I like him very much as a person and respect him as a journalist and a man of principle.
But when it comes to Dundee’s football clubs sharing a ground, I’m dead set against it.
If United and Dundee share a ground, each loses part of their identity.
It makes fiscal sense? Since when did supporting a provincial club in Scotland make sense?
To my mind, sharing a ground means you have to dilute the tangerine or dark blue blood in your veins. I can’t do that.
I think of myself as a fan, and point to the word’s full-out version: fanatic.
Can football be reduced to a discussion about what makes most money? If you think it can, where do you draw the line?
No matter what guarantees are given, what happens when a new owner of one or the other club comes along who doesn’t feel bound by promises made before his time?
What if this owner aims to create a new force in Scottish football? What if he thinks Dundee Merged FC is the way to do it?
Part of that process is already done if the clubs share a ground.
Football support is a matter of the heart
I wouldn’t support Dundee Merged FC. Like all fanatics, I think with my heart.
Supporting a club is beautifully irrational. It goes deeper into the psyche than a tally sheet will ever reach. It is the last human vestige of the tribal system.
We give undying loyalty, even if we sometimes curse those wearing the strips or picking the starting 11.
To earn that fanaticism a club needs to have flown you so high you could reach out and touch the face of God. The club will also have inflicted disappointments only the dead know the equal of.
But when you have come through those extremes, only then do you realise that love for your team can’t be beaten out of you.
It is valuable to hold on to a “constant” like that. Nothing else in life – partners, houses, jobs, friends – is constant.
To inspire this devotion a club has to be many things. A refuge in troubled personal times, a source of pride, a pain to complain of, a book of memories to leaf through.
And to do all that it needs a unique character.
A club having its own ground, a home that is (strangely but aptly) also your home, is one of the most important parts.
When I watch my team I’m in a place where my father and grandfather stood long ago. They are both many years gone but I reach through time to connect with them. I value that far more than money.
If my club falls on hard times I will grieve, rage, and do what I can to help.
I fully accept that is a crazy thing to say.
Label me a fool; point out all the reasons I’m wrong. I care not a jot. I’d rather keep my obsession intact.