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FEATURE: Why did we let him go? The verdict on Dundee cast-offs after Cedwyn Scott goes on trial at Newcastle United

Former Dundee striker Cedwyn Scott is currently on a month trial with Newcastle United.
Former Dundee striker Cedwyn Scott is currently on a month trial with Newcastle United.

Former Dundee striker Cedwyn Scott is on trial at Newcastle United.

The ex-Dark Blues man, 21, has been given the chance to win a deal with the English Premier League side after scoring 20 goals in his last nine games for non-league side Hebburn Town.

A little-known name arriving at a big club with a bio that reads ‘released by Dundee’ is something fans of the Dens Park club dread.

That feeling isn’t just restricted to Dees, every punter in the land will have experienced that feeling of ‘why did we let him go?’.

Even those supporting some of the biggest clubs on the planet – Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah at Chelsea and Gerard Pique at Man U to name just three.

However, Scott’s Magpies opportunity has prompted questions about recruitment at Dens Park, with fans (hat tip @DensParkChoir on Twitter) listing a number of players who, it is suggested, were either wrongly let go or could still do a job for the club.

Our Dundee writer George Cran delivers his verdict on some of the departures over recent years:


Cedwyn Scott (Dundee Jan 2018-May 2019)

A regular scorer for the reserves at Dens Park, Scott wasn’t able to force his way into the first team under Neil McCann. The youngster was given three chances off the bench during McCann’s interim spell but only featured for a total 41 minutes. He would go on loan to Berwick and Forfar the following, scoring four in eight for the former in League Two, before being released as Dundee were relegated in 2019. Now he has a chance to make his name at Newcastle.

Verdict – Wasn’t ready for the first team but could prove Dundee wrong.


Martin Boyle in action for Dundee.

Martin Boyle (August 2012-May 2015)

The speedy frontman was picked up from Montrose after firing in 22 goals in 36 games in the Third Division with Barry Smith in charge. Boyle played a key role in Dundee winning the Championship in 2013/14, though his finishing in front of goal was often a source of frustration. After Paul Hartley swapped Boyle for Alex Harris from Hibs on loan six months after promotion, the now Australian international stuck around at Easter Road to become one of the country’s most dangerous attacking players after turning down a Dark Blues deal. After Dundee, Harris moved down the leagues to Queen of the South before Falkirk and is now at Edinburgh City.

Verdict – Dundee definitely got the raw end of that deal


Declan Gallagher during his time at Dundee.

Declan Gallagher (June 2012-June 2014)

Now an established Scotland international, Gallagher departed Dundee after the promise of a new deal failed to materialise. The central defender signed for Championship side Livingston before a spell ‘out of the game’ followed. After that, Gallagher helped David Hopkin’s side all the way up from League One to the Premiership. A move to Motherwell followed and he has become a key man at the back for his country.

Verdict – Off-field matters aside, wrong decision to let go


Paul McGinn (June 2014-2016)

Another who has gained international recognition, if not any Scotland caps. McGinn was called up to Steve Clarke’s squad recently after good form with Hibs. Back in 2016, the right-back was allowed to leave Dens Park by Paul Hartley with Cammy Kerr coming to the fore.

Verdict – Wrong decision to let go


Craig Wighton is now at Hearts.

Craig Wighton (birth-August 2018)

Returning from a serious knee injury, boyhood Dundee fan Wighton left for Hearts for a fee thought to be around £250,000 with Kenny Miller arriving at Dens Park around the same time. His spell at Tynecastle hasn’t gone entirely to plan with a two-year wait for his first goal and being banished to the reserves by Daniel Stendel. Now, though, he’s flying in maroon – at precisely the time Dundee are going head-to-head with the Jambos for promotion…

Verdict – Wrong decision to let go


Scott Bain makes a save at Ibrox for Dundee.

Scott Bain (May 2014-June 2018)

Bain may not have left Dundee on the best terms but there was no doubting the ability of the future Scotland goalie. Called up while at Dens by Gordon Strachan, Bain had to wait until he’d joined Celtic before making his international bow in Mexico. A fall-out in the dressing-room with boss Neil McCann spelt the end of his Dundee career with Bain joining Hibs on loan in January 2018 only to make the switch to Parkhead a few weeks later.

Verdict – No going back after fall-out, best for both parties


Steven Caulker

Steven Caulker (February 2018-August 2018)

A signing out of left-field from Neil McCann, former England international Caulker was looking to rebuild a career that had seen him turn out for Liverpool, Spurs, Southampton and QPR. Dundee’s plan was to give him the opportunity to do that before selling him on. Off-field problems were an issue, however, with Caulker sent home from a pre-season trip to Portugal. He then triggered a clause in his contract to leave before heading to Turkish side Alanyaspor.

Verdict – Player chose to leave


Tom Hateley (September 2016-August 2017)

Born into footballing royalty – grandfather Tony was signed for a club-record by Bill Shankly at Liverpool while dad Mark played for Rangers, AC Milan, Monaco and England – Hateley had pedigree and had done well in the Scottish top flight previously. His form at Dundee, however, was hit and miss and he left within a year. He’s since gone on to win the Polish title with Piast Gliwice.

Verdict – Best for both parties


Gary Harkins (June 2014-August 2016)

Midfield maestro Harkins returned to Dundee for a third spell, this time under Paul Hartley as the Dark Blues prepared for life back in the top flight. A crowd favourite, Harkins teamed up with Greg Stewart to devastating effect as they fired Dundee into a top-six finish. A year later, 31-year-old Harkins on a big contract was deemed surplus to requirements and left by mutual consent to join Ayr United.

Verdict – Wrong decision to let go


Kyle Letheren won the club’s Player of the Year award.

Kyle Letheren (July 2013-June 2015)

Welshman Letheren pulled off the save that won Dundee the 2014 Championship title, keeping out a close-range header in the 88th-minute to earn the vital points. For that, and a post-war record for clean sheets, Letheren won the Player of the Year award. However, the return to the Premiership saw the keeper get injured and allowed Scott Bain to take the No 1 spot. Letheren left in search of a return to the Wales squad but is still waiting for a first cap. He now plays for Chesterfield.

Verdict – Clash of personality with manager, player chose to leave


Jim McAlister (August 2012-June 2015)

The all-action midfielder is still well regarded at Dens Park and was keen on a return to the club after leaving Blackpool in 2018. The 35-year-old recently came up against the Dark Blues for Greenock Morton. In a 2017 interview with the Dark Blues forum McAlister said “Still to this day I’m waiting on the terms of the two-year deal Paul Hartley promised me two weeks before the end of the season.”

Verdict – Wrong decision to let go


Mark O’Hara (June 2016-June 2018)

Signed as a defender from Kilmarnock, Dee boss Paul Hartley transformed O’Hara into a midfield powerhouse, using his athleticism between the boxes and coming up with some key goals. That piqued the interest of clubs down south as Dundee’s efforts to keep a key player failed. He turned down a Dundee deal to join Peterborough United before this summer signing a two-year deal at Motherwell.

Verdict – Player’s decision to leave


Glen Kamara during his time at Dundee.

Glen Kamara (July 2017-January 2019)

Now strutting his stuff for Rangers, bringing in Kamara on a free transfer after being released by Arsenal was a brilliant piece of business by Neil McCann. Very quickly fans at Dens Park could see they had a gem in their midfield and much of Dundee’s play went through the Finland international. Sadly results didn’t match the quality of the likes of Kamara as McCann was replaced by Jim McIntyre. After a few appearances, Kamara was frozen out by the new boss and Steven Gerrard snapped up the Fin for a small fee, thought to be just £50,000. He now stars at Ibrox while Dundee were relegated at the end of the season.

Verdict – Wrong decision to let go despite having signed pre-contract terms with Rangers


Kostadin Gadzhalov (January 2015-June 2018)

Bulgarian centre-back Gadzhalov was a complete unknown when he impressed Paul Hartley on trial. His whole-hearted displays endeared him to the Dark Blues support, with a derby goal against Dundee United not harming his reputation one bit. Never a regular in the team, Kosta eventually joined Championship side Brechin on loan before leaving. On a relatively low wage, Gadzhalov and his young family were settled in the city but no new deal was forthcoming.

Verdict – Wrong decision to let go


Dundee’s Danny Johnson celebrates a goal against Alloa last September.

Danny Johnson (July 2019-January 2020)

Forever described as a one-goal-every-other-game man, Johnson’s arrival from Motherwell promised much alongside the return of Kane Hemmings. In his six-month spell, Johnson found the net five times in 19 league appearances. He shone on occasion but wasn’t the best fit for the team under manager James McPake. A failure to replace him, however, left Dundee short in the striking department for the rest of the campaign. This season, Johnson has scored nine times in 16 matches for Leyton Orient in League Two.

Verdict – Best for both parties