Blether: Events of early December 1971 changed Dundee’s football landscape

Jim McLean as a Dundee player.
Jim McLean as a Dundee player.

The first few days of December 1971 were to change the shape of professional football in the city of Dundee for many, many years.

Local newspapers The Evening Telegraph and The Courier reported events thus . . .

Dundee dropped the biggest bombshell of the season last night when they said they had accepted the resignation of John Prentice as manager.

They also disclosed at the same time that former Rangers manager Davie White had been appointed to take his place. The shock news from Dens Park was conveyed in a statement made on behalf of the club directors by James R Gellatly.

Earlier in the day, Mr Gellatly had kept an appointment with Davie White in Dundee, when the one-time Clyde player and manager signed a five-year contract with the Dens Parkers.

He will assume his duties at the club on January 1, 1972.

With half of the city’s football fraternity still trying to digest this news, 24 hours later came this other bombshell . . .

A few days ago, Dundee lost their manager John Prentice and promptly announced the appointment of Davie White.

Yesterday, in a remarkable climax to the Tannadice Street drama, Dundee also lost their coach Jim McLean, who is moving down the road to become team manager and coach of Dundee United.

The announcement was made last night at Tannadice Park by United chairman Mr Johnstone Grant. The directors were happy, he said, to confirm Jim McLean’s appointment.

Jim would be in full charge of training, tactics and team selection, and is under contract to the club.

Jim will not take over officially until Monday, but he will be with the Dundee United party at Tynecastle today.

As I understand, he was under contract at Dens Park, Dundee must have agreed to the move.

In a talk with Jim last night, he told me he was delighted with the post, though sorry to leave the players at Dens Park.

“I want to make it absolutely clear,” he said, “that I’ll be solely responsible for choosing the team and their tactics on the field.

“I will take full responsibility for United’s performances from now on.

“Naturally, I hope the club will go on to achieve success.

“I’ll do my very best, though it could take time to know the players’ full capabilities and for my ideas to work out.”

Jim’s senior playing career started with Hamilton Accies, and from here he went on to Clyde, Dundee and Kilmarnock, then back to Dens Park, but this time as a coach.