Monday, February 14, 2011

Matchday 3: Dundee 2-1 Raith Rovers

12th February 2011

Irn-Bru League Division 1
Dens Park, Dundee
Attendance: 5,105

So I'm in Crieff, 18 miles outside of Perth, at 2pm and my plans to attend St Johnstone v Aberdeen at McDiarmid have been scuppered thanks to a waterlogged pitch.

Where to go? What to do?

Step # 1: Find the nearest possible league game and do my damnedest to get there.  

Check: Dundee v Raith - although this is 18 miles the wrong side of Perth...

Step #2: Put my full faith in a long time friend and his Peugeot 307 which he had earlier described as "not a great car". 

Check: Some powerful driving and we arrived missing only 90 seconds of the kick off and most likely breaking a number of speed limits along the way.

The rushed nature of the arrival meant that we sadly didn't get to soak up any of the pre-match atmosphere and after paying a hefty £19 we took our seats in the Bill Shankly Stand - in with the away support who were both large in number and life. Looking around, I was reminded of the strange little ground that is Dens Park. 

Behind each goal single-tiered modern stands (ours and the Bobby Cox Stand). Conversely, the side stands couldn't be further from modern. The main stand in particular which, although seated and covered, is unusually oval in shape, with minimal seating in the lower tier. Opposite sits a stand which bizarrely only runs for about two-thirds of the pitch. Each side stand has supporting pillars and the restricted view that comes with...

From the noise around the place it was apparent that the crowd was right up for it. The Raith fans around in particular blasted out a number of entertaining tunes, including their own versions of "The Bouncy" and Sloop John B by The Beach Boys - the latter mocking Dundee's precarious financial status with the lyrics:

"Six pence in the pound, Six pence in the tinky b*stards....six pence in the pound"

I also witnessed one of the most impressive off-pitch feats (or should I say eats!) at a football ground when a Raith fan, maybe around 17 years of age, managed to put away 2 hot dogs, a pie and a burger in the space of 90 mins, even finding time to cleanse his palate with a packet of fruit pastilles. Clearly a snake in a human costume.

In terms of match action, from minute one until minute 84, Raith were simply dominant. They used the wide men of Dyer and McBride very well, with big Gregory Tade up front causing a number of problems for the home defence. Rovers were especially dangerous from set pieces with captain Grant Murray going close on two occasions with headers from corners. Unsurprisingly, this is where the breakthrough came from when on 51 mins he made it third time lucky sticking away a header from 10 yards.

Dundee on the other hand were fairly hapless. Physically strong but technically void. Extremely direct to the point of being a bit Wimbledon-esque. The epitome of this style was Dundee's big bruiser of a centre half, Craig McKeown, who spent the entire 90 mins illegally battering (and getting away with it) the Raith forwards and "hoofing" it straight up the park with no finesse whatsoever.

However, it all changed for the Dens side on 84 mins when the following happened:

Feel free to praise me for my opportunistism in filming this clip!

12 more minutes, including six minutes of injury time were played after this went in and with the last kick of the game, Neil McCann (of Hearts, Rangers and SKY TV fame) took advantage of another panic in the Raith defence caused by a long ball to hook the ball into the top corner for an unlikely 2-1 win for the Dees.

Overall, a really enjoyable game full of high drama. The last 10 minutes alone were well worth the entry money.

Dundee - could not have been more of a textbook Scottish team. Big, strong, technically not great but full of bruisers and also capable of occasional moments of genius (hence two goals).

Raith - a good side, but my feeling is that they would struggle in the SPL. On this evidence they seem simply unable to close a game out, should've been 3-0 up and were punished accordingly.

One thing that shouldn't be missed though is that this game drew double the crowd of Hamilton v Hearts, and 2,000 more than St Mirren v Inverness. Not only that, Falkirk v Morton in Division One also drew more than the ties at Hamilton & St Mirren

Finance can't even really be used as a rationale - the £19  paid to get into Dens is what you'd expect to get into most SPL grounds.

So the question is, are Dundee and Raith simply bigger clubs than Hamilton & St Mirren or is the ill that is allegedly afflicting the whole Scottish game, actually just a problem for those at bottom end of the Scottish Premier League?

Star Man: Stephen Simmons (Raith) - kept things ticking over. Touch of class.

Time for the judge's scores.

Atmosphere: Absolutely first class. Away fans very entertaining and very noisy. Turn out superb - 9/10

Facilities: Sat in one of the modern stands, so facilities pretty standard for that sort of stadium. 7/10

Catering: Pie and a cup of tea for £3.80. Very steep compared with Cappielow which was £1.80 for the two. Good quality though - 6/10 (pie better than at Albion, but more expensive)

Quality: Mixed - mix of old school direct football using wide players, and even older school long ball and in your face stuff from Dundee. Meaty game though, so fun to watch. 7/10

Access: Although I was in a car this time, Dens is 30 mins walk from Dundee Train Station. Reasonably easy. 7/10

Recommendation: Great game. Up and at 'em, exciting Division One tie....on this occasion. I do fear that the home side could put on some absolute horror shows as well though. Maybe not first choice in a full calendar, but if you're near Dundee & they're playing, drop in.

1 comment:

  1. It's a 206, not a 307, and I NEVER break speed limits!

    Kicking myself that I stopped filming right before McCann took his shot.