Sunday, October 21, 2007

Football Stadia Tour 1: Dens Park

I've returned to my blogging just in time for the second quarter of the season in the Iron Bru Scottish Football League Division 1. So maybe this is an opportune time to start my personal take on the various venues that I come across on my travels. For the rest of this season there will be nowhere new to visit as the first quarter including the cup games has taken me to the strange fields once before.

Therefore this weeks venue was Dens Park home to Dundee.


As any football trivia buff will know Dundee's Dens Park is just along Tannadice street from Tannadice home of Dundee United. And therefore is one half to the trivia question which two league grounds are closest in the UK. In fact as away fans are located in the Bob Shankly stand, the end closest to Tannadice much supporters coaches catch sight of Dundee United's stadium first before they see Dens Park once they turn the corner into Tannadice street.

Getting to the ground cars and coaches are best to take the ring road and then come off down either Clepington Road or Strathmartine Road to get in towards the stadium. Unfortunately is two miles uphill from Dundee's railway station, so for a visiting fan who is looking after their carbon footprint the best option really is to grab a seat on one of your visiting clubs supporters coaches, as unless you can work out the bus timetables you'd be relying on getting a taxi up from the station.

Although with the ongoing work to the Forth Road Bridge, we spent 25 minutes on our coach staring toll booths before getting to them, 18 of which were on the roundabout on the approach from Kirkliston, so we turned up only 15 minutes before kick off.

The Ground

As already mentioned the away fans are housed in the Bob Shankly stand behind the eastern goal and is a single tier. There is decicated wheelchair seating at entrance level with a companion seat beside the wheelchairs' slots. Which yesterday afternoon gave us a brilliant view of Dundee's spectacular first goal by Bob Davidson a screamer from 30 yards into the top right hand corner. The late evening sun at this time of year did start to get in our eyes towards the end of the match, so much so that I was considering urging Dundee Council to move one of the tower blocks, to the south of the stadium, slightly further east to act as a sunshade.

Opposite behind the other goal is the nearly identical twin to the Shankly Stand the Bobby Cox stand. To the right as away fans view the pitch is the Main (North) Stand, which is unusual in that it is the one section that remains of the old oval ground, meaning that those who sit on the halfway line are actually furtherst away from the action on the park. It is two tiered however, there are very few seats in the lower tier, with the majority being in the upper tier.

That leaves the Southern Enclosure known locally as the Derry. Nobody has yet explained coherantly to me exactly how this stand came to be known by the name of the city of my father, outwith the connection to a sectarian style chant that has had the words altered subtlely from the original Loyalist connoctations. This though is where the most vocal Dundee supporters congregate in what was the last terrace; the Derry Boys and Dark Blue 62 Ultras.

The Atmosphere

Fortunately the design of the two goal end stands does add to the atmosphere as the ability to make a great deal of noise is greatly enhanced. As my previous visit was for teh CIS Cup game that went to penalties this was definitely the case in a tense tight game. As with many grounds the vocal home support is close to the away support which adds to the atmosphere as the banter does flow between the two adjoining sections.

The Programme

Cost £2. Had four pages dedicated to the visitors profiles. As well as a four page interview with one of the home players. The centre was the season stats section. With a great deal more stats than some other clubs include. There is a collector's section which this week featured the 1947 Great Britain vesus Europe programme from Hampden Park.

Pie and Bovril

There is a bridie or macaroni pie available. But I went for the steak and gravy pie to accompany my bovril, cost £2.10 + £1.50. The steak in the pie was gorgeously tender, the crust was cooked just right and wasn't too thick or burnt, and the gravy while hot wasn't scalding, excellent fayre. However, by Bovril wasn't warm enough so I'm quite glad it wasn't really the depths of winter when I rely on it as much to warm my hands as my insides.


Admission = £16
Programme = £2
Pie and Bovril = £3.60
Total = £21.60

Match Report

Livingston started strongest and could have been up even before Czech Thomas 'Tam' Pesir scored in the 14th minute but Kenny Sampson had pulled off a spectacular save. Livingston continued to dominate even though Bob Davidson released his spectacular equaliser 6 minutes later. However, a combination of poor finishing and more saves from Sampson, some of which a poacher might have lept on as they bounced free from the keeper, kept the scores level at half time.

At the start of the second half Livingston continued to have the lions share of territory, possession and chances. But shots seemed to be nowhere on target. Then Jan Zemlik got on the end of a move started by Dixon who fould McDonald in the box who laid it off for the second Czech to beat Mariusz 'Super Mario' Liberda in the Livi goal.

The third Dundee goal came seven minutes late in the 68th minute and was a second for Davidson, who made a run across the penalty box. It was clear from the away end that he pulled on Dermot 'Des' McCaffrey's shirt in order to get past him to get his shot in, but the goal was allowed to stand effectively killing of the game as a contest. Five minutes later it was as Derek Lyle on a a substitte for Zemlik made it 4 for the home team. Although there were calls for offside and protests after the goal from Livingston.

Final Score Dundee 4 (Davidson 20, 68, Zemlik 61, Lyle 73) Livingston 1 (Pesir 14)

Effect on the relative teams' positions. Dundee remain in 2nd Livingston remain 8th.

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