Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dear Ditch the Derry

The inbox has been busy for the past few days as indignant Dundee fans re-familiarise me with their flimsy arguments and excuses. Ignorant of Invergowrie wrote “It's just a name, like the shed, used by United”. No, no it's not. No one ever called something “the shed” to align themselves with one side or the other of a sectarian divide. I can't “make out we're sectarian on the basis of just one word” Loopy of Lochee advises me. He appears to be unaware that the threshold for an acceptable number of sectarian terms in a club's repertoire is actually less than one word; so yes I can. Bonkers of Balgowan informs me that “sectarianism is a West Coast problem”. Personally I think it's a problem no matter which coast it rears its head on.

Comical Wullie - There is no sectarianisms in Dundee

It's a pity more can't react with the maturity of the Dundee fan who wrote the following post on their official forum...

"I now find this particular fact rather disturbing and now that my eyes have been opened, and everyone else who reads these posts should also take note, I do not feel I can continue to sing this song. The reference to the Apprentice Boys of Derry just cannot be ignored also. Whether we choose to accept it or not, the Derry boys reference has sectarian undertones that I am no longer prepared to accept.

"Ignorance might be an excuse, but once you are informed (as someone on this thread has already said), you have a responsibility to act and to modify your behaviour. Burying your head in the sand and sitting there in denial just doesn't wash. Neither does the "well we've been singing it for years" excuse. I have been singing this song for years too without fully grasping the meaning of the words I was singing. I for one will no longer be singing this song as the sectarian undertones just cannot be explained away by pitiful excuses.

"For the record, I too dislike the PC Brigade and unnecessary pandering to some perceived offence. However, I do not see this as just another do-gooder situation. I abhor sectaranism and will not perpetuate it by continuing to sing a song that is best consigned to history and left to the west coast bigots to sing.

"If you continue to sing this song and have managed to convince yourself that it's all innocent and can't be put in the same category as the Rangers song, I'm afraid you are kidding yourself. We should not be singing this song."

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Fake red card

Dundee Mad didn't take too kindly to the critique in my last entry and, within an hour of registering to thank them for the publicity, I was banned. Somewhat dejected, I set off for pastures new in my search for a Dundee forum free from sectarian references. Eastfootball.co.uk looked promising. Dedicated, as the title suggests to East Coast clubs, it makes the proud boast in its title to be “showing Old Firm bias the red card”. Excellent.

The forum is divided into a number of sub-forums, each dedicated to one club and named accordingly. Aberdeen's forum is called the Beach End in memory of the stand which was at the end of the ground closest to the beach. Hibernian's forum is called the Famous Five in memory of the fearsome forward line of the early 1950's which comprised of five players and who are famous. Dundee's forum is called The Derry in memory of the sectarian legacy and repertoire borrowed by Dundee fans from their big cousins in Govan.

It seems that the red card was rescinded. The search continues.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Flagging up bigotry

It looks like plans are well underway to create a carnival atmosphere at next month’s Scottish Cup game against Celtic. One suggestion posted on the Dundee Mad Forum caught the eye recently as being a fine example of Stuart Cosgrove’s "playing with sectarian fire"…

Posted by morrison71 on 01 Dec 2008 21:19 re: Union Flags ...

Not trying to wind people up but..Bring your union jack to Celtic.The more british flags the better.We used to do it years ago.We dont bring the union jack to be bigoted but because we`re british.Union Jacks at parkhead would be fantastic in my eyes and dont see a problem with it.

To be "fantastic" in his eyes it has to be Union Jacks, and they have to be at Celtic Park. Sounds to me like the kind of eyes that would wish for there to be no chapel to sadden. Or maybe he's simply mistaken the Scottish Cup 4th Round match against Celtic with the last night of the Proms.

What’s that burning smell? Is it the American flag he thought would make a good Christmas present for the Taliban?

No, it's just wee Morrison thrown his sectarian fire out of the cot again.

Proud Brits at Celtic Park - it's been done

Sunday, 14 December 2008

In the papers

The murkier side of Dundee fans' behaviour has flown below the media's radar for some time, but there's no doubt the pings are increasing in frequency. Top journalist and broadcaster, Stuart Cosgrove, recently brought attention to it in the Daily Record with an outstanding piece of investigative journalism.

The Daily Record - Scotland's moral compass

Dr Cosgrove, who has an honourary doctorate from Dundee's Abertay University to add to his two real ones, wrote...

“No matter how dire the situation, the concept of self-help matters and Dundee could help themselves.
Firstly, they could take a long, hard look at their tradition and face up to the modern world.
Dundee have an image problem and a small rump of fans can halt progress.
They dub themselves as the Dundee Derry and emblazon the name on flags, walls and websites.They are naively playing with sectarian fire.”

Stuart Cosgrove - "Haha, Fantastic, ye cannae beat it"

Friday, 12 December 2008

In denial

I've claimed the board of Dundee FC keep their heads in the sand while their support glorifies a sectarian tradition. This is slightly inaccurate. There are times when passive dishonesty isn't enough.

One such example was brought on by the outrage over comments attributed to David Murray who appeared to suggest that there was a sectarian element to the rivalry with Dundee United. Understandably, United were none too chuffed about what would have been an unfounded allegation. Understandably, Dundee were none too chuffed about someone pointing at the cupboard that had the skeleton in it.

Anti-sectarian campaigner David Murray

Dundee's “proof”, as cited in the statement, of there being no sectarian undertones at Dens Park was a 177-page Strathclyde University report, of which it would seem they neglected to read roughly 176. “The Extent of Sectarianism Online” proves categorically that there were no sectarian references (that the researchers recognised) on ONE Dundee forum for a period of ONE day. A far cry from the NEVER on ANY forum which the Dundee board would like us to believe. The truth can be found much closer to home, on the forum of the very website where their spurious denial was made. Alternatively, the board could always try taking their prawn sandwiches over to the Derry to find out for themselves. Bring sand, I suspect you'll be needing it.

Unknown Dundee board member

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Excuses, excuses

Once upon a time, as all good fairy stories begin, the tickets for the South Enclosure had D.E.R.E printed on them. This was corrupted over the years into “Derry” - which by sheer coincidence is one of the words in the sectarian anthem “Hello Hello” later borrowed and adapted by followers of a variety of clubs throughout Scotland and beyond. The other clubs, of course, adopted only the tune and the bare bones of the lyrics, taking care to remove the sectarian references. Dundee fans, on the other hand, could leave in one of the sectarian references because of those four letters printed at one (unknown) time on the tickets so they all lived happily ever after.

Or was it the initials of Dens Road East? See, that's the trouble when more than one person makes up a cover story.

Others will claim that the Derry was the nickname of the local primary school and that the current nickname of the stand is accounted for simply by the age old tradition of naming stands at football grounds after the closest seat of learning. Admittedly, not an age old tradition that ever really caught on anywhere else.

Alternatively, someone sprayed “DERRY'S WALLS” somewhere on the outside of the South Enclosure at some time for some reason. Although the account is somewhat lacking in detail, the event was so embedded in the psyche of the Den's Park faithful that “Derry” was adopted as the name of the stand. The story, like the graffiti (if it ever existed) doesn't wash.

Ok, so Dundee bought the stand from Rangers then. Such stands did change hands between clubs at one time, though there's no record of any other club agreeing to buy sectarian baggage. The vague grain of truth in this one (or the inspiration for the lie) is that the renowned architect Archibald Leitch is responsible for the main stands at both Ibrox and at Dens; amongst others – he didn't just design stands for clubs blighted at one time or another by sectarianism. But that's the main stand, not the South Enclosure. It's the wrong side of the ground and it's the wrong end of the stick.

The final throw of the revisionist dice claims it’s all just a reference to the dairy that was situated near the ground. For those not familiar with the accent, “Dairy” in Dundonian is pronounced “Derry”. There are, fortunately, no accounts of paramilitary campaigns against cows, or kids from Dundee going all the way to Northern Ireland to pick up a block of cheese for their grandparents, but you can see how easily it could have happened.

A fairytale illustration. (The white horse IS a coincidence)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The story so far

Dundee FC’s South Enclosure, one of few remaining traditional "sheds" to be found surviving in the Scottish game. A quaint throwback to a time of crush barriers, skip caps, Three pence four page programmes, open air toilets, Alan Gilzean, crow scarers, matches against European giants and T-shaped footballs. Oh, and sectarianism.

The "Derry", as it is affectionately known, bears testament to a period of overt sectarianism at Den’s Park. Dundee’s dirty secret which has given birth to many a fanciful myth in attempted cover-ups over the years but has never been tackled by a board more predisposed to sticking their collective heads in the sand than facing up to the perpetuation of a sectarian legacy by their support. In the name of the stand, as well as on banners, in chants and forum usernames, the "Derry" reference lives on. Till now. The time has come to end Dundee’s peculiar brand of pseudo-sectarianism and finally Ditch The Derry.

Pseudo-sectarian banner at Dens Park