Dundee United’s home has just celebrated its 110th birthday. Our football writer Ian Roache picks out 10 things about Tannadice to mark the occasion.
1 The European glory nights. There should be no argument over the number one spot when it comes to happy memories of the stadium, with Tannadice having hosted United continental master-classes against the likes of Barcelona (twice), Roma, Borussia Monchengladbach, Standard Liege, Rapid Vienna and Juventus.
2 Dundee derbies. The Tangerines, of course, enjoyed their trips to Dens – collecting two League Cups and the Scottish Premier League title at the home of their neighbours. However, they weren’t bad on their own pitch either, winning 41 and losing just 25 of their 89 home derbies against Dundee. Younger fans will recall with relish the 6-2 victory on New Year’s Day in 2015, while supporters of a more mature vintage may remember the 4-1 win in 1970 or 5-1 Scottish Cup victory in 1980.
3 Turning over the Old Firm. Believe it or not, this happened reasonably regularly back in the day. United’s last Tannadice success against Celtic came in December, 2014, when Nadir Ciftci and Stuart Armstrong scored in a 2-1 triumph. To see how the Tangerines did, at times, boss the fixture, we go back to January 4, 1986 to find a 4-2 home win that followed another Tannadice triumph – this time 1-0 – over Celtic a fortnight earlier. Oh and in the previous meeting at Parkhead, Jim McLean’s men had won 3-0 in October. As for Rangers, younger fans will cherish the 3-0 Scottish Cup win in 2013 and the 1-0 quarter-final victory on the road to Hampden silverware in 2010 but undoubtedly the most important home wins over the Light Blues came in the 1982-83 league-winning season – 4-2 and 3-1.
4 Arabs. As we all know, United fans have been called Arabs for many a day and some even mistakenly use that term for the team. Fact-checking could be a challenge here but I go along with the tale of ice on the surface being burned off and replaced by sand – hence the desert theme – in January 1963 to enable a Scottish Cup tie against Albion Rovers to be played.
5 The half-time scoreboard. The way it worked before the internet was that you bought your match programme, which listed the other Scottish matches with a letter beside them eg D Motherwell v Aberdeen. Then some unlucky person would have to climb up a ladder and insert the numbers (ie goals scored) against the appropriate letter. They didn’t always get it right, much to the delight of the crowd.
6 The Shed. This end has, in recent years, housed away supporters for the bigger games but it was the spiritual home of United’s younger and more enthusiastic supporters for decades. People would start the match in one area of the terracing but end up a fair distance away from their pals after a goal was scored. Those sways were legendary and not for the faint-hearted. United fans still like to call themselves Shed boys and girls.
7 Switching ends. Fans of some clubs, for example Arbroath, still enjoy this luxury but it does seem a hundred years ago that United supporters could watch the first half from the Shed and then the second half from the terracing at what is now the Eddie Thompson Stand. Segregation? What segregation?
8 Children sitting on the wall. This was common place but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a little bit crazy. Wee lads and lasses could be the first point of contact for any stray shots or clearances. Ducking while not spilling your juice or dropping your pie was an art form, as was being able to spot your parents about 100 feet away.
9 Did that really happen? There have been some odd events over the years. Take your pick from the sight of movie star Grace Kelly at the Monaco match, Gavin Gunning picking the ball up during play or Jim McLean’s “spat” with the BBC reporter John Barnes.
10 Thank you for the music. Over the years we have heard Hector Nicol’s vintage tune The Terrors of Tannadice, tapped our toes to March of the Mods, heard Ricky’s Ross’s Proud to be an Arab, listened to Dean and Dawn playing on the pitch, savoured Hamish the Goalie from the great Michael Marra and enjoyed the classic It’s United. More familiar to today’s fans will be Love is in the Air and Beautiful Sunday.