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Other Cups may include: Anglo-Scottish Cup, Challenge Cup, Cup Winners' Cup, Drybrough Cup, International Soccer League, League Cup, Summer Cup, Texaco Cup.
One custodian who kept his best Dark Blue displays for the derbies against Dundee United was goalkeeper Tom Carson. The Club were lucky to have two very good goalkeepers on the books at the time and for the majority of his eight years at Dens he shared the number one duties with Bobby Geddes. Carson made 93 appearances for Dundee which included the victorious Centenary Cup Final in 1990 but it was his performances in the Dundee derbies for which the Dark Blue support remember him most.
Born in Alexandria in West Dunbartonshire on March 26th 1959, Carson started his football career with local Junior club Vale of Leven before turning professional with Dumbarton in 1979.
After making over 150 appearances in five years for the Boghead side, Tam (as he was better known) was brought to Dens Park by manager Archie Knox a week into the 1984/85 season under freedom of contract. In these pre-Bosman days Dumbarton valued him at £100,000 while Dundee offered just £40,000 and The Dee were delighted when the tribunal set the fee at just £10,000 higher than the Dark Blues had offered.
He was pitched straight into the side at the expense of Geddes who had played in the season opener at Pittodrie (a 3-2 defeat) and he made his debut at home to Hibernian on August 11th.
It was an inauspicious start with a 1-0 defeat to the Edinburgh side, followed a week later by a 2-1 defeat to Tam’s old club, newly promoted Dumbarton and by the time Dundee went across the road to Tannadice on September 8th, they were bottom of the Premier Division and still looking for their first league win of the season.
Knox had rebuilt the side during his first pre-season by bringing in the likes of John McCormack, Robert Connor, John Brown and Stuart Rafferty alongside Carson and suddenly the new boys clicked on the best stage possible.
Three times Dundee took the lead through McWilliams, McKinlay and Harris and three times United drew level but with 14 minutes remaining John Brown bulleted home a header past future Dee Billy Thomson for the winner. It was a remarkable 4-3 win for The Dark Blues and a memorable derby debut for Tam in one of the most exciting and enthralling Dundee- Dundee United encounters of all time.
Carson’s first season was symptomatic of how his Dens Park career would pan out as he was regularly swapping places with Rab Geddes. Carson would make twenty-three appearances to Geddes’ twenty-one but in the next two seasons Geddes would be an ever present and Tam was forced to go out on loan to get some first team action. With only two outfield players allowed on the bench at that time, Carson went out on loan seven times during his Dundee career to Hibernian, Partick Thistle, Queen of the South, Ipswich Town, Dumbarton and Dunfermline Athletic twice.
Geddes’ consistent displays not only kept Carson out the side but also earned him Scotland under-21 cap as an over age player and after over two years out of the side Tam reluctantly handed in a transfer request to manager Jocky Scott who had taken over from Knox in the summer of ’86.
Carson got a chance to come back into the team however in March 1988 when Geddes picked up an injury and as luck would have it his return would be against Dundee United in a Scottish Cup quarter-final at Dens
Carson was an extremely agile shot stopper whose height allowed him to come and pluck crosses out of the air and he displayed all these traits in a largely forgetful 0-0 draw; most noted for the dismissal of United’s Maurice Malpas after a clash with Vince Mennie in front of 19,355.
Another 17,055 turned up at Tannadice three days later and this time the sides produced a thriller in the mud in which Carson produced a remarkable display.
A brilliantly taken double by Eamonn Bannon had left Dundee two down at the break and with Tosh McKinlay suffering a broken ankle after a shocking tackle from Kevin Gallacher, nephew of Dundee Hall Fame inductee Tommy Gallacher, things looked bleak for The Dee.
However on for the popular left-back came substitute Graham Harvey and he scored twice to draw Dundee level. With just seven minutes remaining he put the ball in United’s net with an acrobatic effort but the linesman’s flag was incredulously up for offside to famously give the striker ‘the derby hat-trick that never was’.
While the second half belonged to Harvey, extra-time belonged to Thomas Carson who pulled off a string of stunning saves as the play raged from end-to-end. Each time United surged towards Dundee’s goal, Carson stood in their way and one save from a John Clark edge of the box thunderbolt in particular lives long in the memory as he finger-tipped the ball over the bar in the dying seconds.
It was a sensational match that sadly has no television coverage for posterity and the toss of a coin took the second replay to Dens Park thirteen days later. By then Bobby Geddes was back in the goal when Carson lost his place after a 6-1 mauling at relegation threatened Dunfermline the following Saturday and The Dee crashed out the cup 3-0 on a dismal Monday night. Maybe Jocky should have kept the derby dynamite Carson between the sticks for the second replay!
Carson did return in for the last six games of the season and continued to share the goalkeeping duties the following season. Geddes was the man chosen by manager Gordon Wallace to start the 1989/90 season but on October 28th he was drafted back into the side against whom? – You guessed it – Dundee United!
After a run of taking only five points from their opening ten games, Wallace rung the changes for the derby at Tannadice and Carson was again the hero in a 0-0 draw with a man of the match display. He kept his place, got an extended run in the team and would line up against United again three times in three weeks in late December and January.
A Gordon Chisholm goal earned Dundee a 1-1 draw at Dens on December 30th but it was Carson’s display in a derby that once again grabbed the headlines. Dundee then drew The Arabs in the Scottish Cup for the fourth season in the row and at Dens on January 20th Carson kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw.
This time however it was Tangerines keeper Alan Main who made the headlines with three great saves. A goal-line clearance from former Dee Jim McInally also helped earn United a replay and three days later The Dee would rue missing those chances when United snuck through 1-0 in a closely contested game.
Sometimes of course football can be a cruel game and after finally becoming Dundee’s first choice keeper, Carson picked up an injury in March and missed the rest of the season which unfortunately saw Dundee relegated to the First Division.
In August 1990 Geddes transferred to Kilmarnock for £70,000 leaving Tam as Dundee’s first choice keeper for the promotion push but it was an ultimately disappointing end to the campaign when The Dee missed out on the title by two points and promotion by one.
In November Dundee did however win the B&Q Scottish League Centenary Cup Final with a 3-2 win over Ayr United at Fir Park and Tam played in all four matches en route to lifting the inaugural trophy.
When the Scottish League announced in 1989 that as part of their centenary celebrations the following year they were going to introduce a new cup competition for clubs outside the Premier Division, few Dundee fans would have batted an eyelid. By the time the competition started in August 1990 however, Dundee fans had to take an interest as they were now an entrant into the new trophy following relegation from the top tier.
Known as the B&Q Centenary Cup, this competition was meant to be a one off, knock-out tournament and Dundee, as the side that had just come down from the Premier League, were installed as favourites when the first round draw was made.
The draw however was kind to The Dee as they were given a bye and so the Dark Blues’ debut in the Centenary Cup had to wait until the second round when they were drawn to play Alloa Athletic away from home.
The team that Dundee manager Gordon Wallace sent out against The Wasps was a full strength side with just two changes from the line-up which had drawn 1-1 with Raith Rovers the previous Saturday.
A crowd of just 915 turned up at Recreation Park to watch an eight goal thriller in which Dundee went through five goals to three. Two goals from Billy Dodds and goals from Steve Campbell, Keith Wright and Rab Shannon were enough to dispense with the Second Division side and after a poor start to the league campaign, the win was a welcome boost to the Dark Blues.
The quarter-final draw gave Dundee a tough tie as it sent the Dark Blues back to Kirkcaldy just a few weeks after that league draw. This time an excellent crowd of 4,061 turned up for the midweek clash - almost a thousand more than had turned up on a Saturday for the league clash - and they were treated to a nail biting cup tie that despite no goals after 90 minutes was a cracking match.
The extra time was no less exciting and it was Dundee who sneaked it 1-0 when Billy Dodds fired in a shot from the edge of the box which clipped off a Rovers defender and flew high into the net.
Cup fever had been building slowly as the competition progressed as crowds were above what was expected and rising at each subsequent round.
The semi-finals were no exception and after handing The Dee a bye in the first round, the draw was less kind in every other round as they were handed away ties, including in the semis which sent The Dark Blues to Kilmarnock.
Just fewer than 8,000 turned up at Rugby Park in the first semi-final between the sides since Dundee met Killie on the way to winning the League Cup in 1973. The result that year was a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal from Tommy Gemmell and the outcome was the same seventeen years later with Dundee booking their final spot with a 2-0 win. This time it was Keith Wright who was the hero with both of the goals at Rugby Park to set up a Centenary Cup Final tie against Ayr United which was to take place at Fir Park on Remembrance Day.
On November 11th 1990 Dundee carried a large support amongst the 11,506 crowd in Motherwell but they were silenced when Ian McAllister put Ayr ahead in 13 minutes.
Gradually Dundee took control with Colin West, who had been recalled to the starting line up after a month in the reserves, causing havoc on the right and were awarded a penalty when the flying winger was downed soon after the break.
Billy Dodds, who had missed a penalty against Meadowbank the previous week, sent David Purdie the wrong way and 20 minutes later the flaxen haired striker put Dundee ahead with a header from an inch perfect cross by West.
Dundee continued to press but against the run of play, a long range shot by David Smith was deflected high past Tom Carson in the Dundee goal to put The Honest Men back on level terms. There was no further scoring so the game went to extra time and as Dundee continued to push forward, they looked the most likely to avoid taking the game to penalties.
With only five minutes left Purdie made a brave save at the feet of Keith Wright and when the ball spun free, Dodds was on hand to complete his hat-trick from the edge of the box and win the Centenary Cup for The Dee.
Despite widespread disquiet at the record of chairman Angus Cook – a number of banners calling for his removal were taken down by the police – the fans had given the team tremendous support and as the players paraded the glass trophy (which resides in the Dens Park boardroom today) on a lap of honour, there were joyous celebrations on the terraces.
It had been an enjoyable occasion for all in Dark Blue and in addition to the £10,000 prize money, the result proved a tremendous boost to morale.
The competition was deemed a success by the Scottish League and they decided to make it an annual tournament and with the DIY superstore agreeing to continue its sponsorship, the competition would now be known for the next few years as the B&Q Challenge Cup – or the B&Q Cup for short.
In defending the trophy Dundee crashed out in the first round the following year to Ayr United who gained some revenge for that final defeat and that would turn out to be Carson’s last game for Dundee. Iain Munro came in to replace Gordon Wallace who had departed to join Dunfermline as Jocky Scott’s assistant that afternoon and the new boss put his faith in youngster Paul Mathers and then new signing Jim Leighton who was signed in February 1992.
Dundee would return to the Premier Division as second tier champions at the end of the season but Carson would depart on a free transfer after being released by Munro’s replacement Simon Stainrod and would join Raith Rovers. He would stay in Kirkcaldy for two years before returning to his first club Vale of Leven and was listed in 2015 as the goalkeeper in the Vale of Leven all-time dream team.
Carson finished his playing career with the Junior club but in October 2000 took over as manager of his first senior club Dumbarton and led them to promotion from the Scottish League Third Division in 2001/02. He left not long after due to a disagreement with the board over how much money was required to retain their new Second Division status and it turned out to be his last involvement in football.
Tam has however returned to Dens Park on a number of occasions to support club functions, particularly during the last administration and was amongst the former heroes in attendance at the celebration match against Partick Thistle at the end of the Dee-Fiant season.
Carson kept thirty clean sheets in his 92 appearances and thanks to his derby displays Tam, the original TC at Dens, is a cult hero of the Dundee support. He was occasionally brilliant and always resilient, and although he was in and out of the side a few times, he went about his business as if it was all part and parcel of the glorious uncertainty of a goalkeeper's lot.
A Dark Blue derby great if ever there was one.
August 18th, 1984
Dundee 0 - 1 Hibernian
League (Premier Division)
|Competition||NPS||G2G||Win %||Draw %||Loss %|
|Recent Starting Appearances (First Team Competitive matches)|
|Oct 1st, 1991||01/10/91||Challenge Cup||1st Round||vs. Ayr Utd (H)||0 - 2|
|May 11th, 1991||11/05/91||League||First Division||vs. Hamilton (A)||2 - 1|
|May 3rd, 1991||03/05/91||League||First Division||vs. Kilmarnock (A)||0 - 0|
|Apr 30th, 1991||30/04/91||League||First Division||vs. Clyde (A)||1 - 0|
|Apr 27th, 1991||27/04/91||League||First Division||vs. Raith Rovers (H)||2 - 0|
|Recent Goals Scored (First Team Competitive matches)|
|List of First Team Competitive matches played (click to expand)|
|List of First Team Competitive goals scored|
|= Starting Appearances (Sub Appearances) | = Goals | NPS = Squad Appearances (as Non-Playing Sub) | GtGR = Goals to Games Ratio|
|Yel = Yellow Cards/Cautions | Red = Red Cards/Dismissals | W/D/L - Games won, drawn or lost as percentage of games played in|
Tom was born on this date in Alexandria.
Dundee 0 - 1 Hibernian
League (Premier Division)
Motherwell 3 - 1 Dundee
League (Premier Division)
Dundee 2 - 2 Falkirk
League (First Division)
Dundee 0 - 2 Ayr Utd
Challenge Cup (1st Round)