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‘Gilles Rousset started trying to slam a couple of our boys until big Rab Douglas set about things’: Robbie Raeside reveals how a Tynecastle set-to with Hearts fuelled an entire season for Dundee

Robbie Raeside at Dens.
Robbie Raeside at Dens.

Boxing with assistant manager Jimmy Bone and rammies at Tynecastle – it’s fair to say Robbie Raeside’s time at Dundee has rarely been dull.

Since joining the club from the successful Raith Rovers team of the 1990s in ‘96, the 48-year-old has spent 12 years at Dens Park as player, on the staff and now as U15s coach.

He played under Jim Duffy, John McCormack and Jocky Scott before working for the club during the time of the Bonettis and now learns from Stephen Wright and Gordon Strachan as a youth coach.

With a First Division title and a highest top-flight finish since the 70s in his locker, there is plenty to cover in Raeside’s Dens adventure – not least in recent months when he has taken Zoom sessions for the Dundee academy kids and offered his services for free to help the club through the financial strain of the coronavirus shutdown.

But let’s start at the beginning.

After gaining two league winner’s medals at Raith, Raeside stepped down from the top flight in search of regular football and joined a Dundee side looking for promotion under Duffy in 1996.

Raeside was a regular in his first season, playing 44 times, but fell out of favour under McCormack after Duffy had left for Hibs and was even transfer listed. Jocky Scott, though, returned for his third spell as manager the following season and re-instated the defender.

Former Dundee manager Jocky Scott (right), flanked by assistant Jimmy Bone.

That spell that would prove fruitful – with a league title and a promotion followed by a fifth-placed Premier League finish.

“Cowboy (McCormack) came in and I didn’t play a great deal,” Raeside said.

“Every manager has their own thoughts and it was just one of those things. When Jocky Scott came in I started playing again. I think he wanted to play football a bit more and wanted me in for that.

“The team that won the league was just so hard to beat. We had a good goalie in big Rab Douglas and Eddie Annand to score the goals. I’d say we were a good solid team, we won games in both boxes without playing much flair football. We had experienced players like Jim McInally and there was a good mix.

“Dariusz Adamczuk had real quality, there was Barry Smith, the experience of Billy Thomson and younger guys like Paul Tosh and Jim Hamilton. Then there was Chic Charnley, a quality player and a real character.”

Another real character was Jocky’s assistant, former Scotland striker Jimmy Bone.

“Jocky was a very good coach, a great tactician,” explained Raeside.

“He had Jimmy as his assistant and there were plenty fun and games with him, he was a larger than life character.

“If you fell out with Jimmy, it would be a boxing glove each, the other arm tied behind the back and you sorted it out. It was fun and games and done in the right spirit, I must say.

“The following season we had pretty much the same spine of the team with a few faces like Willie Falconer and Shaun McSkimming added. I think Gavin Rae was just coming through that year, too.

“I think that helped and we ended up with the club’s highest-ever SPL finish. There were no big names or anything, it was all about having a good spirit.

“I look back on that and see it as a really good achievement.”

A chance meeting with a triumphant Hearts side celebrating their 1998 Scottish Cup win in Spain gave the Dark Blues all the motivation they needed to take the top flight by storm after a jubilant Gary Locke compared the First Division champions to a pub team.

A jubilant Gary Locke (left) lifts the 1998 Scottish Cup with stand-in Hearts skipper Steve Fulton.

That rivalry saw Dundee take all 12 points off the Jambos the following season, finishing four points ahead of the Edinburgh side.

It eventually boiled over in the tunnel after a 2-0 win at Tynecastle.

Raeside said: “We were celebrating our league win in Magaluf the summer before and they’d just won the Scottish Cup. Gary Locke was running around in his full strip – think he had the home and away with Locke on the back – all week giving it big licks, saying the next season we’d be the Dog and Duck and it would be an easy 12 points for them against us.

“Every game we played them that was brought up! And we’d struggled at the start, we only had one point from the first four league games before we went to Tynecastle and won 2-0.

“In the tunnel there was a bit of: ‘Get it up you,’ and it all kicked off. Their keeper Gilles Rousset started trying to slam a couple of our boys until big Rab Douglas set about things!

“I think that showed the spirit we had in that team.

“There was real unity and it showed when we finished fifth – just think about the huge money spent in later years and the Bonettis only finished sixth.”

Raeside’s playing days at Dens ended when he left along with Jocky Scott at the end of that season but he would be back before long.

“I broke my ankle in my final season and it was tough,” he said.

“There were some quality players to displace, Javier Artero had come in and I drifted out of things and went to Arbroath on loan. I left when my contract ended.

“I wasn’t away long, though, and came back to work on the staff as a sports therapist and as a youth coach. It was interesting times under the Bonettis but there was a real lack of connection between the first team and youth team, it was like two separate clubs.

“I was still there when Duff (Jim Duffy) came back for his second spell and I’m back again so between playing and coaching I’ve probably been at Dundee 12 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

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