It seems like everybody in Dundee has their very own Jim McLean story.
After the legendary Dundee United manager’s passing on Boxing Day, now’s as good a time as any to tell mine – or maybe I should say it’s my dad’s!
I was only a tiny wee boy at the time – I was probably only four – but I can still remember the day it happened.
My dad was a week-in, week-out United supporter. He even travelled to all the European away games through the 1980s.
One day, he’d seen something he didn’t like happening on the park, and since there were no online fan forums or anything like that, he picked up a pen and wrote a letter to Jim McLean.
He was having a moan, basically!
Lo and behold, a few days later, there was a knock on our front door – and there was Jim.
I remember my mum taking me away into the kitchen while Jim went with my dad into the living room for a chat about the letter.
It wasn’t a quick chat, either. When my dad tells the story now, he says they were in there for a good hour, just talking about my dad’s complaint, then about football.
When you think about that now, it seems unbelievable.
Would a manager today do the same thing? There’s absolutely no chance.
For me, that story shows just how invested Jim McLean was in football – but also in Dundee United.
He cared about the club. And when fans thought he wasn’t doing his job correctly, it hurt him, because he felt he had a responsibility to them.
That’s a big part of what made him a great manager.
And there can be no argument – he was truly a great.
Sir Alex Ferguson described Jim Mclean as his biggest rival in football following Jim’s death.
Never mind Jose Mourinho, never mind Arsene Wenger, never mind Rafa Benitez… Jim McLean was the man who gave Sir Alex the biggest challenge.
That says it all. And it doesn’t surprise me at all.
I’ve spoken to plenty of guys who played under Jim at Tannadice and they all say he was so ahead of his time.
We’ve all heard the stories of how he was introducing elements of sports science into how he worked at United before sports science was even really a thing.
That came from having a first class football head on his shoulders.
He knew what it took to improve footballers.
He also knew the value of loyalty.
If there was a manager today who led United to two or three trophies in four or five years, he’d be away.
Jim McLean had chances to leave United – and they would have made him a wealthy man – but he never took them.
Now, his name is probably the first thing people think of when they think of Dundee United.
That’s entirely deserved. And when his statue is finally unveiled, it will be an entirely fitting tribute.
Speak to Hearts fans about Osman Sow and they’ll tell you he was dynamite at Tynecastle.
So let’s hope the Swede’s hat-trick at Queen of the South was a sign of him exploding into life as a Dundee player.
It was a risk for James McPake to sign Sow.
Everybody knows there’s a player in there, but injuries have undoubtedly hampered him.
They certainly did at Dundee United, where fans saw nothing close to the best of him.
The temptation, when he signed up at Dens Park, was to suspect it would be a similar story.
But he has played plenty of games – and four goals from his last two suggest he’s warming up.
If he can get anywhere near the level of play he regularly touched at Hearts, Dundee will have a guy capable of firing them up the table on their hands.
And in Charlie Adam, he will have the Championship’s most able attacking midfielder in support.
Charlie’s a player whose efforts in recent weeks have been incredible.
He has been going through a horrible time off the pitch with the death of his mum.
But his performances in dark blue have been as good – if not better – than ever.
That says so much, not just about his ability, but about his mentality.
He is an example to us all.
This weekend’s Old Firm clash is absolutely massive.
As far as I’m concerned, if Rangers win, you can hand them the title.
Celtic are already so far behind they need to win the remaining Old Firm games to have any chance.
Defeat in this one would leave them with a mountain to climb.
But I hope it doesn’t pan out like that.
I want to see Celtic doing their bit to keep the title race going.
I like a bit of drama at the top end of the Premiership. Without it, I think the competition suffers.
So I’ll be hoping for a Celtic win.