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Dundee’s Greatest Ever League Game
[Image: Gilzean-fourth-goal.jpg]

On this day in 1961 Dundee recorded their greatest ever league result during their Championship winning season when they travelled through to Ibrox and incredibly won 5-1.

The match on November 11th 1961 saw the top two sides in the Scottish League Division One go head to head and with Dundee leading the way after winning their last seven games, the match was highly anticipated. Dundee had defeated Celtic 2-1 at Dens the previous week but the second part of their Old Firm double header would seriously test the Dark Blues title credentials against the defending champions on their own patch.

Such was the interest throughout Scotland that on Friday night Dundee full backs Alex Hamilton and Bobby Cox were interviewed by Arthur Montford for the STV topical programme Here and Now. When asked about Dundee’s prospects at Ibrox, Hamilton said, “We should have nothing to fear”, while Cox was confident that the team could continue their recent good run.

When Montford asked Cox about The Dee’s Championship prospects, the captain replied: “It’s a bit early but everyone is pulling their weight and it’ll take a good team to beat us.” In reply to a question about Dundee’s forwards gaining all the credit, Hammy then said: “As long as we get the goals we don’t care who gets the credit.”

Confidence was obviously high in the Dundee camp but the Rangers match on Remembrance Day was undoubtedly a huge challenge. The Ibrox club boasted seven internationalists in their line up and were unbeaten in 21 games. They already had that season’s League Cup in the bag, having beaten Hearts 3-1 in a replayed Final and were clear favourites for the League Flag, despite being five points behind The Dee but with two games in hand.

A huge crowd was expected to descend upon Ibrox with over a thousand intending to make the journey from Dundee. British rail ran a football special from Dundee West Station to Buchanan Street at a cost of 15 shillings (75p), compared to the regular fare of 19s 3d (96p) and Dicksons Coaches in Reform Street  ran buses to the game for 12s 6d (62½p) a return ticket.

On matchday however Glasgow was shrouded in fog and rumours circulated quickly that the game had been postponed. The weather forecast had been for the fog to clear by midday and when it didn’t, numerous Dundee supporters’ buses were turned away by police less than a mile from the ground.

Those who travelled by rail were luckier than those who travelled by road. The football specials at 11.30am and arrived in Glasgow at 1.45pm. With the return train not due to depart until 6.30pm, the majority of Dundee supporters made their way to the ground, expecting to twiddle their thumbs for the next four hours but were delighted and ultimately fortunate to find that the game was still on.

The worst of the fog cleared half an hour before kick off and it was only then that the referee Mr. R. Rodger from Stonehouse decided that the game should go ahead. A crowd of only 38,000, roughly half of the Rangers’ capacity, went through the turnstiles and had it not been for the fog and the rumours of a postponement, Ibrox would have been crammed to the gills.

So the game went ahead at 3pm and the teams lined up as follows:

Rangers: Ritchie, Shearer, Caldow, Davis, Paterson, Baxter, Scott, McMillan, Christie, Brand, Wilson

Dundee: Liney, Hamilton, Cox, Seith, Ure, Wishart, Smith, Penman, Cousin, Gilzean, Robertson

Dundee lined up at full strength with their immortal eleven and with a record of three wins and a draw in the last four league meetings, the Dark Blues fancied their chances.

Visibility was still poor on the terracing when the game kicked off and after 45 minutes it was still goal less but Rangers’ Jim Baxter was running the show. At half time Dundee manager Bob Shankly ordered Andy Penman to adopt a more attacking stance so that Baxter would be forced to track back. The tactical change paid immediate dividends when Alan Gilzean finished off a move involving Penman and Alan Cousin by heading past Ritchie in the Rangers goal to give The Dee a priceless lead.

Within seconds Gilzean added a second but worryingly the fog was returning. Visibility had deteriorated to such an extent that Pat Liney in the Dundee goal didn’t know his team were 2-0 up until Bobby Cox shouted back to him as the players lined up to restart.

If the score was a treat, it was about to get even better. Gilzean completed his hat-trick on 74 minutes and although Ralph Brand pulled one back for Rangers, Gilzean immediately thundered in his fourth. To score four goals at Ibrox is the measure of any player and Gilzean duly established himself as a fully fledged Dundee hero. Nor were the Dark Blues finished for Andy Penman completed the rout with a fifth goal and all five had been scored in the second half. Rangers unbeaten record in all competitions had been obliterated.

The final score of 5-1 to Dundee is untouchable as the greatest league result in the 123 year history of the club. It was a famous victory in the swirling Govan fog and those who were fortunate enough to witness it were the envy of Dundee fans everywhere. With Dundee’s defence superbly marshalled by Ian Ure in the first half and the forwards rampant in the second, they showed that their championship challenge had to be taken seriously and was ultimately successful.

Dundee of course travel to Ibrox for their next match next weekend and can only dream of such a result but after two back to back wins will travel to Govan high in confidence just as the team did 55 years ago today.


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