The Dundee United Football Club Historical Archive. Preserving United History Since 2006.
One match which the fans needed little encouragement to attend was held at the end of this long season. Dennis Gillespie, a loyal servant to Dundee United over twelve years with the club, had been transferred to Brechin City a year before. Nevertheless, the directors had promised him a testimonial and 11,000 paid tribute to a great player and a great personality. Dennis Gillespie's testimonial provided a fitting tribute to the first Dundee United player to be capped by the Scottish League and one of the club's greatest servants. After joining from Alloa Athletic in 1959, Gillespie played over 400 competitive games during the following twelve years, scoring more than 120 goals.Since the foundation of Dundee United a great number of players have earned the "tremendous club man " tag. In the post-war years men like Bobby Ross, lan Smart, Peter McKay, Alec Arnold, Tommy Neilson and Jimmy Briggs will be remembered for their loyal service. Rarely do players of this kind get into the headlines and reach the heights they so deserve. But nonetheless they are respected and fondly remembered by the fans because of the wholehearted style they displayed at all times. In the current era United had two such performers, Doug Smith and Dennis Gillespie. Team mates for over 10 years forming a splendid defensive partnership. It's all the more remarkable in Dennis's case as he joined United as a scoring forward from Alloa Athletic. After nine hard-working seasons as a forward he moved back to continue serving the club in a new role and with equal effect. "I had a couple of games in the half-back line some seasons ago when Tommy Neilson and Stewart Fraser were injured " recalls Dennis. "But I never thought I would become a regular defender. I find it much easier to be in the back line as one has less turning to do. A forward is continually on the turn and while I feel I never shirked a tackle, it was difficult to show hardness. People have told me they are surprised at my tackling strength. But I am now getting the chance to put power into my play."But United fans were almost denied seeing the popular Dennis in defence at all. "As I found a place in attack was becoming harder to hold on to, I seriously considered pulling up stakes and emigrating to New Zealand. Fortunately the idea was never followed up and I really feel now I could stay in the game for some time yet. Admittedly I cannot run around as frantically as I used to. In those days I used to come off the field and sweat long after the game was over. Every player must pace himself, no matter his age, and by doing this I know I can continue to play."