Last updated : 23 October 2004 By Pars Mad

You know, for years I’ve wondered exactly why they call Dundee the ‘City of Discovery’.

It’s not exactly the perfect candidate to adopt the ‘City of Discovery’ label is it? I mean, in previous ventures across the Tay Bridge the only things that I discovered were run down council estates and bogging ‘pehs’. Well, now I know why, for today was truly a journey of discovery. In today’s trip to Dundee I discovered three crucial facts; firstly that Dundee does have its fair share of fit ‘burds’, secondly that the Dundee police and stewards are the biggest prats this side of the Hadrian’s Wall, and thirdly, and most importantly of all, I discovered that the Pars players do have the courage, the fighting spirit, and – above all else – the ability to win the games which, in reality, they should be winning!

After last week’s debacle away to Livingston, manager Davie Hay saw fit to make two changes to the previous starting eleven in a desperate bid to change the Pars plummeting fortunes – Derek Young, impressive in the midweek reserve side outing against Livingston, replacing the injured Gary Dempsey on the left side of the midfield, and the returning Gary Mason replacing Darren Young in the Pars engine room after the latter’s fairly anonymous showing at Almondvale last Saturday. All the more intriguing was the Pars formational switch which saw the Pars reverting to, what appeared to be, a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Simon Donnelly playing the ‘Dennis Bergkamp role’ in behind a front two of Craig Brewster and Thomas Butler.

Starting the match in the same vein in which they performed against Livingston last week, the Pars looked decidedly edgy, allowing the home side to, almost immediately, gain a stranglehold on the proceedings, Derek Stillie turning a left-footed Stephen McNally effort round the post in as early as the fifth minute. The resulting corner brought about all-too familiar uncertainty in the Pars defence with Dundee defender Stephen Robb being allowed both the time and space to send a dangerous driven cross into the Pars six-yard box, Derek Young eventually clearing. The Pars defence was caught napping once again only three minutes later when Dee midfielder Neil Barrett headed over from close range after a Stephen Robb cross.

With their backs firmly to the wall, the Pars continued to grow increasingly uneasy, all-too often gifting possession to the Duffy’s men with a series of slack passing. The home side’s lofty forward pairing of John Sutton and Steve Lovell were causing the Pars defence several aerial problems, never more so than when a John Sutton knock-down caused an almighty scramble in the Pars six-yard box, Andrius Skerla the hero with the clearance on this occasion. Despite striving to launch a Pars offensive with a series of lung-bursting runs down the right-wing, Greg Shields was called into action soon after with a superbly-timed tackle preventing a Steven Robb cross.

With the Pars players sensing a need for change they began to threaten the Dundee defence, albeit tamely, through a long range Craig Brewster drive which flew wide of Derek Soutar’s left-hand post. As so often has been the case, the Pars right-hand side pairing of Shields and Nicholson seemed to be offering the most potent threat to the home side’s goal, Shields sending a 25-yard effort wide of the post shortly before the half-hour mark before Shields combined with Barry two minutes later, the swift passing move culminating in a fierce left-footed Barry Nicholson effort sailing far over the cross bar. With the Pars brief bombardment of the Dundee goal failing – so far – to bear any fruit, the breakthrough was to come from one of the most unlikely of sources only minutes later. A wicked in-swinging corner from Thomas Butler was met by Scott THOMSON in the minute, the captain sending a fierce header past the helpless Derek Soutar to record the Pars first away goal of the season. Cue pandemonium in the Pars support, the visiting fans remembering suddenly what it’s like to score.

With the Pars fans voicing their approval of the Pars performance, singing the old favourites such as ‘Oway Oway Oway’ and ‘Athletic’, one of the Dundee stewards took it upon himself to start acting like Rambo – hilarious if you’d actually seen the size of this lanky streak – and trying to manhandle the Pars fans into sitting down, and then of course one fan reacts, he gets thrown out and chaos erupts! With the Pars fans voicing their angry disapproval, the stewards and their big pals (the police) decided it was about time to try and earn their promotion or Christmas bonus, trying to ‘eject’ as many Pars fans as possible – by half-time this tally had reached the grand total of three, more was to come however…! In amongst the chaos, Brewster (twice) and Neil Barrett both came close aiding their respective team’s efforts.

Going into the half-time break with a degree of confidence after a possibly ill-deserved strike, the Pars came out for the second-half with the kind of attacking attitude reminiscent of the Jimmy Calderwood era. Only minutes into the second period the Pars could have added to their lead after a dangerous Craig Brewster cross sailed just inches over the head of Nicholson as the midfielder raced into the home side’s six yard box. With the Pars hemming Duffy’s side into their own half, Nicholson was to return the favour soon after, sending in an excellent right-footed cross which Brewster could only just connect with, Soutar emerging from the attack relatively untroubled.

After yet more inept-stewarding from Dundee’s finest, the Pars fans started to become more and more animated, almost every Pars fan to a man joining in a chorus of ‘Stand Up If You Love The Pars’, and, right on cue, two more Pars fans were ‘escorted from the premises’. Christ, I thought Churchill and his pals had disposed of fascist regimes in 1945! Far from sit and sulk, the Pars fans responded by singing at the top of their voice – whilst standing I’d like to point out! – in a scene slightly reminiscent of the film ID – slight exaggeration perhaps. Oh how it worked. The Pars players responded, and within minutes, the Pars were two up thanks to a Derek YOUNG effort. After receiving a pass from Brewster, Simon Donnelly waited before sending Nicholson racing down the right-hand side before sending in a pinpoint low cross which was turned into the net by Derek Young from only yards out.

With the game seemingly beyond them, Dundee were to find the perfect response only three minutes later, in the 53rd minute, when ex-Pars trialist Iain ANDERSON headed home a Stephen Robb cross to drag the home side back into the match. An onslaught was to follow with Stillie, not for the first time this season, turning in an impressive display – the keeper turning a John Sutton header round the post only minutes later. With the play taking on a more open feeling, Scott Thomson saw his eighteen-yard drive creep wide after an excellent passing movement involving the Pars midfield, John Sutton coming close for the home side shortly after. Sutton’s partner in crime, Steve Lovell, was to pass up an excellent opportunity in the 62nd minute when he failed to connect with a John Sutton cross. The Pars – at this point, playing on the counter – could have put the game beyond doubt shortly after when 62nd minute substitute Billy Mehmet was left bemoaning yet another missed opportunity. An excellent sweeping move involving Nicholson and Mehmet opened up room for Derek Young on the left-hand side, Young sending a pinpoint cross to Brewster whose knock-down was volleyed into Derek Soutar’s welcoming arms by Mehmet – no matter what he does, it just will not go in for the big man!

The 71st minute of the match saw the FBI’s missing person department erase one name from their files as Fabian Caballero made an appearance as a substitute, much to the home fans delight. His introduction almost inspired an equaliser from the home side with both Sutton and Lovell coming close once again, both players’ efforts flying wide of Derek Stillie’s left-hand post. With the minutes ticking away, and with the home side becoming more and more desperate, the Pars once again passed up decent opportunities with Derek Young sending a volley over before Thomson just failed to connect with corner seven minutes from time, losing out to Dundee’s Bobby Mann.

Then, when it seemed like all the Pars had worked for was lost, with Stillie beaten, Scott Thomson played the captain’s role in heroically clearing Bobby Mann’s header off the line with only four minutes left.

Hanging on, the Pars closed out the match – with late substitute Darren Young playing a pivotal role in much of the last-gasp defending – to record a badly-needed three points to continue an excellent Dens Park record. With the Pars fans applauding the delighted players off the pitch, this Saturday night, at least, will no doubt be enjoyed by everyone associated with the Pars.

At times it may not have been the most attractive, or indeed fluent, of performances by the Pars, and it would be true to say that by full-time many a Fifer’s fingernails had taken a severe beating, but it was the kind of performance that makes you proud to be a Pars fan. Yes, there was some poor defensive play at times, yes we sat back too much which in turn invited Dundee back into the game, an yes, we have far from turned the corner, but the Pars players showed the kind of spirit, commitment and passion which was only matched by an equally-as-passionate Pars support. A support small in numbers maybe but, as I’m sure many of us have been told at least once in our life, it’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it that matters, and the Pars support were – at times – as vocal as they ever have been, a factor which clearly inspired the players. Every single one of the fourteen Pars players played their part in what was a much-needed win – even 90th minute sub Darren Young played his part, putting in numerous vital clearances aswell as keeping the ball in the corner in the dying seconds of the match.

Their seemed a collective will amongst the Pars players to get a result, and – although not every player was at the top of his game – not one could be faulted for a lack of effort. Although every Pars player did play their part, the individual performances of, in particular, Scott Wilson, Andrius Skerla and Derek Young were crucial to the Pars triumph. Despite a shaky start to the match, Wilson – who described his performances this season as donkey-like – grew evermore into a commanding centre-half role, limiting the Dundee forward’s space and time. Wilson’s defensive partner Skerla was just as commanding, at times looking class in his reading of the game and his distribution. However, it was the performance of Derek Young that was undoubtedly the most pleasing for the Pars support. Aswell as scoring the decisive goal, the young Young’s hold up play and overall awareness of the surrounding play was integral in the Pars success. Although Derek has failed to fully establish himself in a Pars jersey his commitment – which, in truth, can never be faulted – was first-class and his hard-working display typified the Pars overall performance.

We’re not out of the water yet – far from it in fact – but there is definite light at the end of the tunnel, no need to get excited however as it’s probably just another hard man Dundee steward asking you to take your seat. On that note, I think I should leave the last word for the Dundee stewards and ‘polis’… Pricks!!!

Man Of The Match
DEREK YOUNG – A hard-working and match-winning performance from the Pars midfielder.

Stillie 7, Shields 7, Thomson 7, Wilson 8, Skerla 8, Mason 7, Nicholson 7, Derek Young 9, Donnelly 7 (Darren Young 90) 5, Butler 6, (Mehmet) 6, Brewster 6 (Tod) 6.