This past year has been one like no other, not just for Scottish football but the entire world as the worst pandemic in a century struck.
The unprecedented crisis brought unprecedented responses and restrictions to daily life.
And our game was far from immune to it and Dundee Football Club ended up front and centre of a summer full of infighting, struggle and politics.
On the pitch, a record across 2020 of 28 points from 18 league games, 10 wins, seven draws and seven defeats in all competitions doesn’t tell the whole story.
George Cran takes a look at what does…
Did Dundee exceed or fall short of expectations in 2020?
That’s a tricky one. At the start of 2020 there wasn’t any expectation Dundee – or anyone else – could catch Dundee United at the top of the Championship table.
The play-offs were then abolished when the pandemic struck and the Dark Blues’ route back to the top flight disappeared.
It was a mad-cap summer with votes, politicking and arguments aplenty – I’m sure there’s at least a couple of clubs out there who’d say Dundee fell short of their expectations through all!
On the pitch, though, when the ball came back out in October there’s no doubt the Dark Blues are well short of where they should be with the squad available to them.
The expectation was they’d be up with Hearts and Dunfermline, setting out a claim for the title and promotion – they’ve been nowhere near the Jambos since the opening day of the season.
Hopes of hauling back the gap to Robbie Neilson’s men are all but extinguished going into 2021. That leaves the play-offs.
The talent in the Dark Blues squad makes promotion through that route possible – they absolutely need to find some consistency in their defending before then, though.
Craziest moment covering Dundee:
This is Dundee we’re talking about – it’s nearly all crazy!
It has to be the SPFL vote getting stuck in the governing body’s spam folder. It’s classic Scottish football.
I remember the Friday night of the vote and laughing because it looked like one club had gamed the system and waited to see what everyone else had voted for.
At that point Dundee told us they’d sent in their ‘no’ vote and were wondering who still hadn’t voted. So our paper was ready to go before the Friday night deadline.
Then it emerged the PDF of the voting slip with John Nelms’ signature on hadn’t arrived and the Dark Blues were holding all the cards on whether to end the season and give out much-needed prize money or start again with a different plan.
Dundee’s actions were within the rules, however there was an element of Machiavellianism from Mr Nelms in trying to force league reconstruction.
There have been a few in 2020 for Dundee. Some results: the 6-2 hiding dished out by Hearts, letting a three-goal lead slip against Dunfermline as well as another collapse at Hibs.
However, the departure of Kane Hemmings was a real sore one for the club and supporters alike.
The manner of the striker leaving, too, left a bad taste in the mouth.
🎄 Behind door number 1⃣5⃣ of the #SPFL Advent Calendar…
— SPFL (@spfl) December 15, 2019
The backdrop to it all was the huge financial worry that had engulfed the club, budgets were slashed, coaches and staff were made redundant while players and coaches were asked to take wage cuts.
Most of them agreed – Josh Meekings left at the end of his contract before Hemmings went back on his original agreement.
He departed for boyhood club Burton Albion leaving Dees to rue what might have been had the striker stuck around.
Best goal you’ve seen for or against Dundee:
There are two to choose from. You’ve probably already guessed who they were both scored by – Charlie Adam.
The first one on his league debut at Tynecastle. It was a forgettable evening for the Dark Blues but Adam’s first goal for his boyhood club should never be forgotten.
A mazy dribble to beat four men before smashing the ball beyond one of the country’s top goalkeepers Craig Gordon and into the top corner. Top class stuff.
But Adam managed to top that just a short time ago with an absolute raker against Dunfermline.
Charlie Adam gollerine İskoçya Championship'te devam ediyor 💥🚀⚽️💫pic.twitter.com/mLNQiHGo5z
— Premier Lig Turkiye (@PremierTurkiye) December 19, 2020
Striding forward from halfway, the midfielder unleashed a 35-yard thunderbolt that flew into the top corner.
It was a majestic strike amid an incredible performance made more impressive by the sad news that followed of his mother’s terminal illness.
Who’s the best player you saw in action for or against Dundee in 2020?
With there being so few matches in 2020 compared with every other year, there haven’t been many stand-outs against the Dark Blues.
Kevin Nisbet, first for Dunfermline in scoring a wonderful goal against Dundee last season, and then for Hibs this term is a distinct possibility.
However, this accolade will have to go to Mr Adam once more from me.
The beauty of it for Dundee fans is I don’t think we’ve seen anything like the best of the midfielder yet at Dens Park.
His performance against Dunfermline a couple of weeks ago was superb. It feels like that sort of level wasn’t a one-off for the former Scotland man, though.
The controversial SPFL ballot – will Dundee have any regrets about that U-turn?
Possibly. We’ve not seen too much fallout from it, to be honest. Just some pettiness while up at Inverness last month.
The fact there haven’t been any fans in the stands has taken away a large part of the anger we’d normally see during games.
The purpose of changing votes was to bring about league reconstruction to improve our game as a whole. That was John Nelms’ aim.
It may have been a naïve one, considering how Scottish football usually conducts itself – self-interest trumps all.
Plans to re-jig the leagues were put on hold somewhat until next summer so we’ll have to wait and see whether the U-turn has changed anything going forward.
Personally, I hope it has. In terms of regrets from Dundee, I don’t think they’ll have any, whichever way it goes.
Dundee forecast for 2021:
Catching Hearts is almost gone, particularly if Dundee don’t get a win against the Jambos on Saturday night.
The key for manager James McPake is patching up the leaks in his defence.
Too often they’ve let themselves down this term by conceding weak goals. Going forward Dundee have improved since last term and look capable of scoring the goals they need to have a go at the play-offs.
They’ll need to mirror their run at the end of last term, however. Momentum is key and much better results are required going into the new year, for both club and manager.