A Tale Of Defiance: The Year Dundee Refused To Die

Tell the tale of a side going 23 games unbeaten and most would expect it to be one of happiness and title success. Not in the case of the Dundee FC. Their story is a tale of defiance, in which the club and their supporters would refuse to give in.

The 2010/11 season is not one that ended in success but for many, it was the best they have seen.

Heading into the season, the usual optimism that surrounds lower division teams was there. Dundee fans were no different, with some likely dreaming of a return to the Scottish Premiership.

In the boardroom, however, there was no positivity and by the middle of September, administration was the only option.

With it came severely dark days for all those associated with the club. The manager and his staff were made redundant, as were nine of the playing staff. The administrator at the time, Bryan Jackson, openly admitted keeping the club alive would be one of his greatest tasks.

On the pitch, the remaining players would later have to deal with a 25-point deduction, a tally that left them in bottom place and 20 points from safety.

As far as most outsiders were concerned relegation to the third tier was a certainty.

However, the Dundee fans weren’t listening, they had no interest in giving in just yet. Instead of dropping their heads and accepting their fate, they did the opposite. They fought back, refusing to give up on their club in its darkest hour.

Amidst their anger at seeing their club plunged into administration for the second time in seven years, rose a sense of defiance. It was a defiance they took into the stands, filling Dens Park to the rafters each and every week and showing their support.

As a result, the squad took note and tapped into it, using it as the driving force for the miracle that followed. If ever a team was spurred on by their fans, it was Dundee FC. With most of the season remaining, they knew they needed to start picking up points quickly. So that is what they did, starting with a win over Morton at the beginning of October.

Six wins and four draws followed in their next ten games, meaning that by the middle of January, hope was rising fast that the impossible was anything but.

A 0-0 draw with Dunfermline, that last of those ten games, was followed by a five-game winning streak. By the end of the campaign, they had gone 23 games unbeaten in total, ensuring survival. Leigh Griffiths, a man whose expensive signing led to the club being in such dire circumstances, managed eight goals before he left for Wolves in January.

Fellow striker Sean Higgins got nine, midfielder Craig Forsyth eight, defender Matthew Lockwood five. Even old friends such as Neill McCann stepped up to help out and fight for the cause. It was the kind of team spirit that money simply cannot buy and one that forged heroes in the dressing room.

Their positive performances, fuelled by the fans, caused the support in the stands to grow even further. If the team stumbled, the fans were there to push them on every step of the way.

Attendances remained high throughout the campaign, with highs of 5,000, larger than some SPL games, seen on four separate occasions. 7,000 would turn up to see their side beat Partick Thistle in the second to last game.

Each game saw fans staying to the death, their support never wavering. A clash against Raith Rovers in mid-February is the perfect example of their devotion to the cause. A goal down with six minutes remaining, the run appeared to be coming to an unceremonious end. Not a single fan wavered, though, the stands remaining full to the brim.

Two goals in the dying minutes would see their side come away with a 2-1 win and maintain the unbeaten run for a further nine games. Manager Smith would later describe it as his highlight of the remarkable campaign. The defiance stretched further than the stands too, with the fans raising a quarter of a million pounds to keep the club from liquidation. Even the taxman could not stop them saving the team they loved.

By the end of the campaign Dundee sat in 6th, a place higher than where they had been when administration hit. Had they not suffered a 25-point deduction, they would have finished second.

Not that the fans cared, they had won in more ways than one. In some ways, the success they had enjoyed brought far more enjoyment than a title would have done anyway. Their determination, passion and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds had sparked a miracle on and off the pitch.

By May that year, the club would exit administration and start the slow road to recovery.

Seven years on and the club are back in the Scottish Premiership, finishing last season in 10th place, narrowly avoiding relegation. Neil McCann, one of the heroes in that remarkable season, now sits in the dugout.

It is fair to assume he, and the fans, will not take their situation for granted at any point for they know what it took to get to where they are. It is unlikely that Dundee and their fans will ever forget their season of defiance.