The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
Jim McLean made one change to his starting line-up from the side which had been unlucky only to pick up a point at Pittodrie midweek with the Dons snatching a less than deserved equaliser from the penalty spot late on in the game. Midfielder Billy Kirkwood was brought into the team – replacing John Holt who dropped out of the squad altogether. With Kilmarnock rooted at the foot of the Premier Division table and United sitting in fourth McLean would have been hoping for – and probably expecting – a big win prior to kick-off, and that’s exactly what he got. The home side however did not start off brilliantly as they struggled to settle into the game, lacking any real fluidity to their attacking play. The match had been dragging on for half an hour when McLean made a tactical alteration which would prove significant. Billy Kirkwood was moved from full-back into midfield with Iain Phillip taking up the right-back position. Almost immediately after this change United took the lead: a speculative 35 yard effort from Ian Gibson bounced awkwardly in front of the Kilmarnock goalkeeper and ended up in the back of the net. Then McLean’s change paid off as Billy Kirkwood struck – putting United two ahead shortly before half time with a glancing header from a Frank Kopel cross. United started the second period where they had left off at the end of the first and added to their tally only four minutes after the interval. Kirkwood lobbed a ball into the box and Davie Dodds was on hand to nod past Wilson in the Killie goal. The home fans had hardly stopped celebrating when Billy Kirkwood almost burst the net with an explosive first time effort from 25 yards after some neat interplay between Hegarty, Milne and Sturrock. Kilmarnock – who were already virtually doomed to relegation with only seven points from twenty one games – were now well and truly out of the game but did little to prevent United adding some gloss to the scoreline. Ralph Milne turned home an Eammon Bannon cross on 75 minutes and sixth soon followed with Derek Addison lashing home a powerful low drive which beat Wilson at his near post. Eamonn Bannon completed the rout from the penalty spot after Paul Clarke had handled in the box. The full time whistle signalled an end to Kilmarnock’s ordeal with United running out emphatic 7-0 winners. As one newspaper put it, “on this form the League Cup holders are easily the most exciting side in Scotland.”
First of all I take this opportunity of wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year and doubtless, along with you United fans, hope that 1981 brings our club further successes. On reflection, the previous twelve months proved to be for me a year in which we remained 'on the spot’ in the respect that we did not gain nor lose much during that time. As far as I was concerned we did not really make the progress I had hoped for to follow on our 1979 winning of the Bell's League Cup. For that I blame our old failing and one of my perpetual complaints to the players in the side — namely that we continually failed yet again to get sufficient players into scoring positions in the opposition danger area. The culprits are basically the same individuals that I branded in similar fashion a year ago. I have tried to shame those players into action by private persuasion and as you may have seen recently resorted to making things public to illustrate my concern on the subject. However, on the plus side in 1980 we achieved what I rate was a fantastic achievement for the club. the retention of the League Cup, after what was a marvellous run towards the trophy. During that run we equaled if not surpassed our cup-winmng display against Aberdeen in 1979, when beating Celtic 3-0 in the recent competition's semi-final stage. Hard as I am to please, that one just about fully satisfied me! Finally, may I just say that in winning the League Cup twice now our players have done nothing else but prove me right. I always knew that we were good enough!