The manager was Jim Duffy; the team captain was Barry Smith; the date was 22nd November 2003; the headline in The Courier that day was “Dundee on the brink of administration.” The hearts of those DFC fans who were around at that time still miss a beat when they think back to what will invariably be included among the darkest of days in the history of the Dee.
And two days later, on November 24th 2003, the worst fears of the fans at that time were founded. The club was indeed plunged into administration. People were shown the door on that desperately sad day, numbered among them being fifteen members of the playing staff including such international football stars as Georgi Nemsadze, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Fabian Caballero, Juan Sara and Beto Caranza. Yet just five weeks earlier Dundee FC had been competing in Europe in the 1st Round of the UEFA Cup, and less than five months before that they had been playing in the final of the Scottish Cup. But that was then. This was now. And what was needed was nothing short of a miracle.
Administrator Tom Burton was the man tasked with being the miracle maker. He had worked the oracle previously with Portsmouth FC, although he himself admitted that Portsmouth’s average crowd of 11,0000 and debt of around £8m was put in the shade by Dundee’s average crowd of 6,000 and debt of around £20m. So he called on the help of all supporters who wanted to come to the aid of the club to pool their resources.
On Saturday, 29th November, a patched up Dark Blues’ eleven took to the field for an away match against Livingston. In this, their first post-administration league match, they earned a highly creditable 1—1 draw, the Dees’ goal being grabbed by Mark Fotheringham, scoring his first first-team goal on his full debut.
Then on Monday 1st December officials of the club’s supporters’ association met with Tom Burton. A Dee4Life fundraising committee was formed and the plans they were already beginning to put into place received a ringing endorsement from the Administrator. It would most certainly not have been recognised as such at the time, but remarkably the tide was already beginning to turn.
The Dee4Life campaign was launched on Tuesday December 2nd, and the website www.dee4life.co.uk was set up.
The following day, Wednesday December 3rd, Dundee played their first home game since going into administration. Hearts were the opponents in a CIS Cup quarter-final tie, and before the match the fans received a fillip when Jim Duffy made it clear he was staying at the club despite an attempt by Partick Thistle to lure him away. Fittingly, the team that took to the field for that match gave it their all. 1—0 was the score, Bobby Linn winning the day with his first counter for the club. And the fans made abundantly clear their intentions to save their football club with an amazing fundraising effort. The DJ blasted out such defiant tracks as “ I will survive” and “Things can only get better”. The entire production run of 500 Dee4Life t-shirts sold out and, aided by the generosity of the Hearts fans on the night, a bucket collection raised the fantastic sum of £14,000.
That was just the beginning of course. There were many hurdles to be overcome in the days, weeks, months and years that lay ahead, and on the way there have been peaks and there have been troughs.
But here we are today, exactly ten years later. A team on the field working their socks off to win promotion back to the SPL; a management team and Board of Directors, strengthened by the resources of Football Partnership Scotland, backing them every inch of the way; a Supporters’ Society that’s the envy of almost every other football club in the land.
And together, there need be nothing stopping us from making sure that the next decade brings us all the success we deserve.
Bring it on!
Source: Dundee Mad