While we remain in the throes of the pandemic, it’s difficult to understand the magnitude of Dundee United’s achievement in getting to eighth spot in the Premiership table.
With the oh-so taken for granted customs of Scottish football like ticker-tape title parties and open-top bus parades put on hold, United’s Championship success hasn’t hit the way it should have.
Although it, largely, wasn’t of their own doing, last season’s curtain closer was a bit of a damp squib for the Tangerines as Covid-19 sent our game into shutdown mode.
The Terrors would’ve won the league, regardless, had they been able to play out their eight remaining – of that there is no doubt.
However, they were hardly finishing the campaign with a flourish.
United won just one of their last seven games in their second-tier run-in – a crucial 2-1 victory over second-placed Inverness at Tannadice that all but sealed the title before the world was turned on its head.
It was more a limp over the line to the Championship crown rather than the procession everyone had expected.
Don’t get me wrong, Arabs would’ve enjoyed their day in the sun regardless, bearing witness to Mark Reynolds raising hard-earned silverware aloft in front of a packed-out stadium. What could have been in a parallel universe.
Although making it to within a point of finishing in the top six is a massive success story in the club’s first season back in the top flight, Micky Mellon’s men can’t afford to end the current campaign in a similar fashion to Robbie Neilson’s team.
The danger of the league being called prematurely is next to none but the prospect of United’s form taking a nosedive is very real if they aren’t careful.
The Terrors are going well, unbeaten in their last three Premiership meetings and head for Hamilton today on the back of a 1-0 win over Aberdeen and progress in the Scottish Cup courtesy of knocking out Partick Thistle.
With Accies fighting for their lives at the foot of the table, though, United must be prepared to match what Brian Rice’s team put into the game.
And it’s not just Hamilton. Kilmarnock, County and, Motherwell are fighting the same battle, while St Mirren will be hoping to hang on the seventh spot as the Tangerines head for Paisley on the last day of the season.
Things will come to a close in a more conventional manner than they did last time out for United, regardless of results between now and that final fixture at St Mirren Park.
They can’t control how the last two seasons will be remembered. “Coronavirus” will be etched all over the football history books in permanent ink forevermore.
What they can determine, though, is the mood Arabs emerge from Covid in.
After the year we’ve all had, there is no greater prize.
Perhaps it’s the cynic in me but I’d hazard a guess Dundee supporters have developed a nervous disposition over the years following the Dark Blues.
It’s something I can empathise with as a St Mirren fan, let me tell you!
With things going so well, on and off the park, for the Dee at the moment, their twitchy angst is, ironically, likely to be in overdrive.
They’re on a three-game winning run, scoring three goals in each match, while James McPake was named Championship Manager of the Month for March.
With struggling Morton checking in at Dens, you’d expect confidence to be high.
However, with that an unusual position for the club to be in, there are likely to be a few sets of chattering teeth and fidgeting extremities among the Dee support, players and staff this afternoon.
After all, the stakes are high as Dundee look to secure second spot and the smoothest possible route back to the big time as they target Premiership promotion through the play-offs.
The worry won’t, overly, be about second-bottom Ton but about securing enough points in their remaining five fixtures.
With tougher tests coming up against promotion rivals Raith, Dunfermline, Inverness and Queen of the South, getting their noses in front today could be pivotal.
How are your nerves, Dees?
Consider my cap well and truly doffed to Rangers and Swansea City after both clubs’ innovative approach to tackling racism.
Players and staff at the Gers and the Welsh side have decided to boycott social media for a week to raise awareness of the abuse being levelled at BAME players on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
A new angle was needed in the fight against racial abuse in football, sport and wider society.
Hopefully, the Silicon Valley giants sit up and take notice of this – a key step forward for the anti-racism movement.