While many teams in Scotland and indeed in the UK are no longer playing their home games at the same ground they originated from, there has been only one home for Dundee United in their long and illustrious history.
The Early Years
Tannadice Park has been the location where millions of football supporters have flocked for over a century in search of goals, excitement and atmosphere. The ground today though, is almost unrecognisable from the site which Dundee Hibernian leased after previous tenants, Dundee Wanderers, had moved out. The story goes that the ground, originally known as Clepington Park, was stripped of everything that wasn't bolted down by Dundee Wanderers, incensed at being evicted. Even the goal posts were removed.
Within a few months of taking over, the Dundee Hibernian committee began work on the derelict ground. A two-story pavilion was built just to the right of where the current players tunnel is located. That same season, work started on a wooden stand, sited on the same side as the dugouts are currently located but did not stretch the full length of the pitch. This wooden stand was only half finished when Hibernian of Edinburgh played the first ever match at newly named Tannadice on August 18th 1909. The wooden stand was finally completed midway through season 1909/10. Ash banking was the means to increase the capacity further and this technique of building up a slope for improved viewing was utilised behind both goals that same season. At that time the capacity was in the region of 10,000.
There was little further work completed on the ground until the onset of promotion to the First Division in 1925. It was the threat of the Scottish League inspection team that was the catalyst for further activity around the park. The Scottish League were required to inspect the ground to ensure it met the requirements for top flight football. United had been leasing the ground since 1909 and the first step was to purchase it for the sum of £2,500. With the ground now fully owned, United went about making some major improvements. The pitch was levelled with the steep slope in the corner between what is now the East and George Fox stands being reduced. To do so, the solid rock beneath required blasting! To aid the comfort of supporters, the ash banks were developed further with old railway sleepers being laid to create the first proper terracing t the ground. Finally, work was done to tidy up the pavilion and new turnstiles were installed.
After The War
There was precious little development in the subsequent years, with financial challenges and the onset of war hindering further work. It wasn't until 1953 when the ground received another major facelift. The north terracing, now the George Fox stand, was concreted. The appointment of Mr George Fox to the Board in the mid-fifties was to be the start of further more significant changes to the ground. The Dundee United Sportsman's Club (alias, Taypools) was formed in 1956. United were the first club to operate a pool such as this in Scotland. This followed closely the example set by Nottingham Forest. The success of the scheme and a donation of £1,000 led to the the first section of the Shed being opened on the 21st of September 1957. St Johnstone were the visitors in a match which United won 2-1. The enclosure behind the goal was extended before the start of season 1958/59 and a roof ensured cover for up to 7,000 supporters. Around this time, the Arkley Street end of the ground was concreted.
Promotion to the top division in 1960 brought about further change at Tannadice. The old pavilion and wooden grandstand were demolished and up went a modern 3000 seat cantilever stand. The stand was fully opened in 1962. Capacity was swelled to 28,000 that same year through the heightening of the north terracing. Three months later new floodlights were installed. Each had 160 lights and were 185 feet tall. One of the floodlights at the Arkley Street end housed a new half-time scoreboard. Matches would be referenced with letters in the programme and numbered boards would be slotted into the frame to give those in possession of the programme the half time scores. The floodlights were used for the first time in a game against Rangers on the 10th of November 1962. Tannadice was now looking like a top class ground and Taypools had much to do with that.
Another 20 years passes before further development took place. In 1980, the north terracing was covered. That left just the Arkley Street end uncovered. Other work done in the early 1980s included the creation of an enclosure under the Main Stand and the installation of executive boxes. Under soil heating was also installed in 1985. Later in the 1980s further work was done. The erection of the Fair Play Enclosure occurred in 1988 and was funded by FIFA's award to United fans for their impeccable behaviour at the 1987 UEFA Cup final.
In the 1990's clubs were forced to meet the demands of the Taylor Report and work towards all seater stadium. Ironically, the new north enclosure after only 11 years usage was first to go. It made way for the George Fox Stand which was opened in 1992, seating 5,114. The two-tiered stand, complete with orange and black seats was used first in a competitive game against Hearts on August 8th, 1992. One new aspect of the stand was TV monitors installed above the food outlets under the seated areas. These allowed fans to watch the game while queuing for refreshments. Significant accommodation was also made for disabled fans with spaces for wheelchairs at each end of the stand. The naming of the new stand after Mr George Fox who, during his 35 plus years as a Director, couldn't be more appropriate. His financial acumen was a vital factor in United's emergence from its dark Second Division days of the fifties. Many United fans would jokingly refer to it as the Duncan Ferguson Stand as Jim McLean openly admitted the £4 million sale of Ferguson to Rangers helped finance the construction. One loss from the new build was the old scoreboard. It was thought many in the George Fox Stand wouldn't have been able to see it and consequently after 30 years, it was demolished with the half time scores now announced over the upgraded tannoy system.
Next it was the turn of the Arklay Street end which was replaced by the East Stand ready for the start of the 1994/95 season. Whilst at the same time, 'The Shed' was transformed into an all-seated area. The famous Shed end terracing at Tannadice was used for the last time on 30th April 1994. The Shed was out of action for the final home game against Raith Rovers in season1993/94. Therefore, the last chance for United fans to stand at Tannadice was against St.Johnstone In the penultimate home match, ironically the first visitors when the first section of the shed was opened on 21st September 1957. This was the only part of the ground that remained, linking us with our Second Division days. That close season, work began to convert the terracing into an all-seated enclosure. This was the last stage of redevelopment of the ground to bring Tannadice into line with the Taylor Report. It also marked the end of a 37 year love affair between the noisy singing section of the United support and the Shed end of the ground. Those fans who, from this vantage point, had witnessed some of the most memorable games and goals in United's history moved out to accommodate visiting fans from season 94/95 onwards. United fans sat in the East Stand for their first competitive match against Aberdeen that season as the team came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 with both United goals coming in front of the East Stand.
The Modern Day
Last, and by no means least, was the removal of the Fair Play enclosure which can now be found at Dundee North End's ground. Replacing it was the Fair Play Stand which extends to link up with the old South Stand. Nowadays, Tannadice has a capacity of 14,209 which is a far cry from the days when 28,000 packed the terracing for the visit of Barcelona in 1966 to create the record crowd, but no one could argue that today's modern stadium matches the best facilities Scotland can offer.
|Most Appearances made at Tannadice|
Dave Narey (417 appearances)
Narey was a local lad, born and raised in Dundee and was educated at St John's RC High School. He was signed by United on an Schoolboys form in 1972 at the age of 15 whilst with St Columba’s Boys Club, and signed professionally the following year. He made his full debut for the club at Tannadice in a league match against Falkirk on November 21st 1973, playing as an attacking midfielder, although he would go on to become a full-international centre-half.Dave soon became a regular in the D...
|Top Scorer at Tannadice|
Peter McKay (106 goals)
Peter was signed from Newburgh. His goal scoring record at United is unlikely ever to be beaten. In seven years at Tannadice he was a regular in the line up and top scorer in six seasons. He was part of United's "Famous Five" of Quinn, Grant, McKay, Dunsmore and Cruickshank in the early 1950s. In April 1954, Burnley made an offer of £3,000 and Peter decided to put his ability to the test south of the border.Peter was inducted into the Dundee United Hall of Fame in January 2009...