Dundee United legend Sean Dillon believes history will have no bearing on the Tangerines’ clash at Rangers today.
United head to Ibrox for the first time in over six years with a catalogue of on and off-field incidents between the clubs stretching back to 2008.
From a boycott to cup drubbings with a transfer stooshie and the Terrors’ entanglement in the Gers’ liquidation thrown into the mix, it’s been a difficult relationship to say the least.
However, defender Dillon, who played in the boycotted 3-0 Scottish Cup fifth-round win over a Third Division Light Blues back in 2013, doesn’t feel what happened in the past will be relevant this afternoon.
“It’s been a while since United played at Ibrox in the league so it was always going to be a big game,” the 37-year-old said.
“That’s the great thing about where the club are at the moment, being back playing against all the best sides in the Premiership.
“Will it have an edge? I don’t know. You know the way it is with some people, I’d like to think at this stage people would be getting on with what they’re doing.
“You read about certain things but as a player going into the game, the whole boycott thing and everything else wasn’t in our minds, we were just focusing on the game.
“It’s not something you gave much thought to and it’s the same now – there’s more important things to be worrying about on the pitch than what’s going on off it.
“With the turnover of personnel on the pitch and off the pitch I’d expect it just to be a normal game.
“Everyone involved in the actual game will be concentrating on that, I can’t see anything that happened six or seven years ago coming into play at all.
“I imagine that will be left for social media.”
Rangers fan decided to stage a no-show for the cup clash after what they perceived as then-United chairman Stephen Thompson charging them twice for a replayed league clash back in 2009 and for having an influential involvement in voting the Ibrox club down to the fourth-tier.
Despite everything going on in the background, Dillon only remembers the game for the occasion it was – a Dundee United win.
The Irishman added: “I remember it as an enjoyable game for obvious reasons because we won and it was Jackie’s (McNamara) first game as manager.
“It was a great day – it was a huge game for everybody involved and a good experience.
“Tannadice when you play a derby is, obviously, a special event but when Rangers and Celtic come to town it’s a big event, too.
“It’s just what happens, they’re big clubs who bring a good support with them.”
Asked if there was a bitterness to the clash, he continued: “It depends on who you speak to, you bump into people out and about or speak to your mates and everybody has a different slant on it.
“We’ve all got a different way of looking at it but, to me, it was all for other people to talk about all the stuff going on away from the actual game.
“At the time, with Rangers out of the top flight and rebuilding, it was just a different type of game and approach for us.
“You’re not playing against a high-flying Rangers, the way it would’ve been in the years previous, but we knew that we had to play well and we did on the day.
“If we hadn’t played well, we wouldn’t have got a result. We were playing against a strong team, albeit they were down the leagues, they still had a good squad.
“It was just a case of focusing on what you have to do – the rest is irrelevant.
“You could have people in your ear Monday to Friday telling you what it means but the players know how much it means to people.
“When you’re playing for a club you want to make sure you do the business to give your fans the bragging rights.
“You win a derby, and for me those moments were brilliant, but I didn’t go about town with a big banner or going on about it. You just get on with the next game.
“You do it because the fans and the people at the club get to walk into work on a Monday with a smile on their face.”
Dillon, now a player/coach at Montrose, is hoping United can add the finishing touches to recent good performances and get something from the clash.
He commented: “I expect it to be a good match and the way the manager is speaking at the moment he’s talking very highly of the history of the club.
“It’s certainly exciting he’s speaking with such positivity and looking forward to going and having a go at teams all the time.
“I hope it’s a similar approach to the Celtic game – I was commentating for the club and I really enjoyed the game.
“United had a good go but maybe didn’t create as many chances as they would’ve liked but you expect that playing against a Celtic team with top players that cost a lot of money.
“In the end, the goal they got was disappointing but there was still plenty of positives to take.
“Hopefully, today it will be the same but with a different result.”