of south africa 1953
was just reading bits and bobs on the internet re our team,
Football fans are enjoying a month of non stop matches from the World Cup in South Africa just now but in 1953 Dundee F.C. went of a summer tour of this year’s host nation which lasted twice as long as this summer’s competition. South Africa were a touch unlucky to be eliminated from their own World Cup after defeating France and winning four points but almost sixty years ago their national side took part in a three match test series against the Dark Blues as part of their marathon seventeen match tour.At the end of a successful 1952/53 campaign which saw Dundee win the League Cup for the second season in a row, Dundee flew out to South Africa a fortnight after their last game of the season away to league champions Rangers. Dundee took a seventeen man squad with them and along with manager George Anderson and the directors, flew direct from London to Johannesburg on a BOAC Comet.It was a Dundee squad full of stars which included the legendary Billy Steel, the famous half-back line of Tommy Gallacher, skipper Alfie Boyd and Doug Cowie who a month before had made his Scotland debut in a 2-2 draw at Wembley against England and top goal scorer Bobby Flavell, whose brace last October had won the League Cup over Kilmarnock at Hampden. Also included in the squad was 1951 C.O.N.C.A.C.A.F. Player of the Year, Jack Cowan from Canada, popular winger George ‘Pud’ Hill and former Dens Park favourite, centre-forward Ronnie Turnbull who had just returned to the Club from Swansea after spells with Sunderland and Manchester City. Dundee’s first match took place against Southern Transvaal in Johannesburg on May 16th 1953 and when they took to the field in front of 22 000, they were wearing not their regular dark blue but rather a Anderson tartan strip with a Dundee badge on the left breast chosen by manager George Anderson.The flamboyant Anderson was well aware of the benefits of good publicity and as the side started to get changed for their first match, he came into the dressing room with a parcel with their new strips stating, ‘These will take a trick out there’. When they took to the field, the new shirts were given a great reception by the local fans and the following day, the newspaper headlines read, ‘Tartan Troops From Tayside’, as they reported on the 1-1 draw. Bobby Flavell, who had finished the trophy winning season with twenty-five goals, got Dundee’s strike against Southern Transvaal and in their second game against Natal in Pietermarizburg, he scored a hat-trick with ‘Pud’ Hill getting Dundee’s other counter in a 4-1 win. Three days later in Durban, Dundee went one better winning 5-0 in a rematch with Natal and Flavell was again on the mark with a double with Billy Steel, Doug Cowie and Alfie Boyd from the penalty spot completing the scoring. Dundee were greeted very warmly everywhere they went and with a large number of Scottish ex-pats in South Africa, they enjoyed scores of functions and receptions by Caledonian societies.Dundee repeated their 5-0 score line in their fourth game on May 27th against a Border XI in East London with the returning Turnbull scoring twice alongside centre-half Bob Henderson, Billy Steel with a penalty and Doug Cowie who had now scored the same of goals on tour as his entire seven year Dundee career. Dundee’s free scoring form continued with a 5-0 win over Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth and a 4-0 win over Western Province in Cape Town, and with the Dundee party moving to a different location for every match in their first month in South Africa, they were getting a fantastic opportunity to experience and visit the whole country. Dundee were on their travels again as they defeated Griqualand 2-0 in the Northern Cape in Kimberley, Eastern Transvaal 4-2 in Benoni and Lourenco Marques XI 3-1 in Port East Africa before an impressive 9-2 rout over Orange Free State in World Cup 2010 city Bloemfontein. Dundee’s next two matches were also at 2010 venues with a 2-0 win over Northern Transvaal in Pretoria and a 4-0 win in the second game against Southern Transvaal in Johannesburg. The South Transvaal match was unusual in that in front of a crowd of 10 000 it was played under floodlights, which was an innovation that was still in its infancy. After some unsuccessful experiments with floodlights in the late nineteenth century, the first match in Scotland played under ‘proper’ floodlights was in November 1951 in a friendly between Stenhousemuir and Hibs and they weren’t used in competitive games until 1956, so it would have been a unique experience for the Dundee players. All these matches however were warm ups for the three game test series against the South African national team and the first of these came in Durban on June 27th when Dundee suffered their first defeat of their tour when South Africa won 1-0.Dundee however bounced back in their next two matches in a double header against Southern Rhodesia with a 4-1 win in Salisbury in which Doug Cowie scored a hat-trick and an 8-0 in Bulawayo. The second test match against South Africa took place exactly fifty-seven years to the day that the 2010 World Cup will take place and in the same city of Johannesburg and Dundee gained revenge for that earlier loss with an empathic 5-0 win. Bobby Flavell scored his second hat-trick of the tour in the Rand Stadium and the other two goals were scored by Ronnie Turnbull and Dundee’s very own South African Ken Ziesing. Four days later in Cape Town, Zeising was again on the score sheet in his homeland as Dundee played the last of their seventeen matches and won the third test against South Africa 5-3. Additional goals from Steel, Cowie and a Turnbull brace meant Dundee won the test series against their hosts by two matches to one and it was a very enjoyable end to a memorable trip. The two month trip was a marvellous experience for the Dundee players and officials as they won fifteen of their games with one win and a draw and scored an impressive seventy goals conceding twelve. Bobby Flavell would finish top scorer with seventeen goals with Ronnie Turnbull in second scoring twelve while Doug Cowie went home with nine goals to boast about, having only scored twice in competitive games for Dundee since 1946.Dundee played in six of the nine cities which are hosting 2010 World Cup matches and at the end of the trip, captain Alfie Boyd decided he would stay in South Africa having been offered a coaching post. It meant that Boyd missed the return match against South Africa who visited Dens Park in October and the match ended in a 3-1 Dundee win. South African football was very much in development at this time and they were one of four African nations to attend FIFA's 1953 congress and demanded, and won, African representation on the FIFA executive committee. Fifty-seven years later, South Africa hosted their own FIFA World Cup and their win, draw, loss was a slightly better record when the Dark Blues visited them in 1953.
Source: Dundee Mad
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