First Dundee derby of the season within four weeks of opening day

Sam Stanton — seen here tussling for the ball with Dundee’s Paul McGowan — enjoyed his first city derby when the Tangerines earned the penalty shootout extra point at Dens last Sunday.
Sam Stanton — seen here tussling for the ball with Dundee’s Paul McGowan, during a derby in 2017.

James McPake’s league managerial career will start at East End Park as Dundee have been handed an away trip to Dunfermline on their return to the Championship.

And they’ll face Dundee United at the end of August as the two city clubs renew their league hostilities for the first time in three years with the first derby at Tannadice on August 31.

In fact, the Dark Blues face the Tangerines three times before the turn of the year with the return leg at Dens scheduled for November 9 and a festive clash across the road on December 28.

There’s a big gap then until the end of the season where they face off in what could be a title decider on the second last day of the league campaign on April 25 at Dens.

All four of those fixtures are likely to move for TV with Friday nights a distinct possibility on the new BBC Scotland channel.

The first Championship match at home in over five years will see former player Ian McCall’s Ayr United welcomed to Dens Park with new signing Declan McDaid facing his old side on his home league debut.

That’s potentially followed by the first knockout round of the Betfred Cup on August 17/18 before a tasty clash with Inverness follows a week later.

Tensions between the clubs have simmered over the summer after the Highland club accused Dundee of making an ‘unsolicited approach’ to speak to manager John Robertson.

And with the two expected to be battling it out at the top of the table next season, it could be a key marker for the Dark Blues for the campaign ahead.

That’s swiftly followed by the first clash with Robbie Neilson’s men before Jim Goodwin heads to Dens with his Alloa side.

The former St Mirren favourite was close to getting the manager’s job with the Dark Blues over the summer and will be keen to show them what they are missing.

Then comes two of the longest trips of the summer as McPake’s men head to Greenock and then Dumfries within seven days at the end of September.

November will be a good month for the home support with three of the four fixtures all at Dens – first it’s David Hopkin’s Morton, who will be stronger than last year, and then United a week later.

A difficult trip to Inverness punctures that wee spell before Queen of the South rock up at Dens on November 30.

Dundee fans will first make the short trip up the coast to Arbroath at the start of December with Dick Campbell’s side having already come the other way on October 5.

The Dens men’s toughest spell of the campaign comes around Christmas time.

Between December 21 and February 15, they face all the sides expected to have a say in the race for the title and play-offs.

That run goes Partick (a), United (a), Inverness (h), Ayr (h), Dunfermline (a), Morton (a) and then Gary Caldwell’s Partick Thistle again (h) – a run that could easily define where Dark Blues could end up come May.

Should they get through that spell, three matches against teams expected to struggle follow with a trip to Palmerston to play Allan Johnston’s Queens before two home games against Arbroath and Alloa respectively.

The run in is not so bad for the Dark Blues before two possible title play-offs to finish the term.

Queens, Alloa and Arbroath faced within four matches of each other at the business end of the campaign could be much worse.

However, the Dark Blues’ season could end with a bang.

The final derby of the campaign at Dens comes on April 25 before they complete their Championship fixtures with a trip to Glasgow to play a fancied Partick side.