A New-Look Saints earn a Scottish Cup win in Dundee - 1961

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Dundee United, 19th March 2022)

Dundee United v St. Mirren - Scottish Cup 1961

Dundee United v St. Mirren - Scottish Cup 1961

The city of Dundee was a very busy place to be in on the afternoon of Saturday, February 11th 1961. In a scenario which would not be permitted by the authorities nowadays, both Dundee United and Dundee hosted their Scottish Cup ties against St. Mirren and Rangers respectively in the same street and at the same 3pm kick-off time. The expected large crowds materialised, with 10,500 turning up at Tannadice and 32,000 at Dens Park.

There was confusion and controversy even before the matches began. A recently-adopted SFA rule had stipulated that should there be a colour clash, then “both” teams would have to change. It was only discovered after the Buddies’ arrival that their change strip was too similar to Dundee United’s Arsenal-like red alternative. The situation was resolved after a quick dash to Dens Park to borrow the dark blue shirts of Dundee. Fortunately for St. Mirren, the shirts were available for use, as the colour clash rule had also affected the Dundee versus Rangers tie, with the home side changing to white and the Ibrox Club turning out in red.

Although St. Mirren and Dundee United had met in a number of League matches since the 1920s, this was their first ever meeting in the Scottish Cup and United were seen to be slight favourites, having the home advantage.

Saints went into the attack from the kick-off and had a chance within two minutes, Bryceland and Miller setting up an opening for Rodger, but his shot sailed over the bar.

United then had a setback after nine minutes when Denis Gillespie was injured and had to leave the field for treatment. As was often the case in the days before substitutions, teams would rather keep a player on the field even for nuisance value and he returned nine minutes later to operate on the left wing, but not before St. Mirren had opened the scoring.

In the sixteenth minute, Jim Rodger made ground against a retreating home defence. However, instead of the expected cross, he cut the ball back to Rab Stewart, whose mishit shot still managed to deceive the defenders and find its way into the net off the right-hand post.

The home side came back into the game, but were clearly handicapped by the injury to Gillespie and while both sides created chances, their shooting was off target. Just before half time, another effort from Rodger was tipped on to the bar by home ‘keeper Ugolini.

Rab Stewart's shot finds its way into the net

Rab Stewart's shot finds its way into the net

With both the breeze and the setting sun behind them in the second half, Dundee United went all out for a quick equaliser but were foiled by good defensive work from Clunie. The home side generally camped out in the Saints half and forced a series of corners but none of them were productive.

Dundee United had been issuing A5-sized programmes since season 1946/47, but on their promotion to the First Division in 1960, they adopted a larger page format. The four-page programme was printed black on white and was priced at threepence. A numbering scheme was also introduced, the issue for the St. Mirren match being Volume 1, No. 16.

The front cover displayed the Club crest and full match details, headed by the roll-call of officials. Inside, the “Line-Up for Today” portrayed the teams in the 2-3-5 formation of the time. The home side took the field as listed, but St. Mirren fielded McTavish at No. 10 instead of Henderson as printed.

Below the line-ups, “From the Manager’s Office” expressed Tannadice Manager Jerry Kerr’s delight with his side’s current position, in which they were on a four-game unbeaten run. The visit of St. Mirren was seen to be one of the keenest and hard-fought games of the ties and, based on the showing in their previous visit on League business in December, he adjudged them to be the most attractive side that Dundee United had played that season.

The Manager’s column continued onto the back page which also listed the Half-Time Scoreboard for the day’s other Cup-ties. Aside from that, the programme contained adverts from local traders, so it was quite a sparse issue.

Not many of these programmes have survived in pristine condition, the large page size having made them rather inconvenient to transport and store. As a result, even a creased and folded copy can command a price tag of around £10-£15 nowadays.