Dundee’s first ever goalkeeper who played in The Dee’s first ever game against Rangers on August 12th 1893 was Bill McKie who was signed on the eve of the game from Montrose.
McKie started his career at Montrose and was something of a local hero as part of the side who won the Gable Endies’ first ever trophy, the Forfarshire Cup in 1891/92; a season considered to be one of the finest in the Montrose’s history. January 23rd 1892 saw them take on East End of Dundee at neutral venue West Craigie Park, (the then home of Our Boys who would later merge with East End to become Dundee FC) in the final of the Forfarshire Cup in front of a bumper crowd of 5,000.
McKie lined up in the goal and in those days there were obviously no radios, televisions or mobile telephones and so to keep the locals up to date with the team's progress, telegrams were sent back to Montrose every fifteen minutes.
Montrose had arrived at the ground some fifteen minutes late when their special train was delayed and the game didn’t start at the agreed kick off time of 2.45pm. Montrose elected to play uphill in the first half but the knock on effect of the late start was that the game was completed in near darkness by which time East End were desperately trying to draw level.
Before full time was called East End captain Brown complained to the referee that the match could not continue owing to the poor light. His protests fell on deaf ears however and when the final whistle sounded The Wise Men had lost by five goals to three meaning McKie and his Montrose team mates had won the locally prestigious Forfarshire Cup.
Well, not exactly, or at least, not immediately. East End lodged a protest at the end of the game, complaining that they had been put off by Montrose’s late arrival, the lack of light towards the end of the match caused by kick off being delayed and the poor state of the pitch.
The protests continued when players and officials of both clubs retired to Mr. White’s tea rooms in Commercial Street for supper and as a result the presentation of the trophy was withheld.
The lack of a cup did not prevent the people of Montrose celebrating. A large crowd waited at the Caley Station for the team's return and both the Black Horse Inn and the Commercial Hotel had been granted special late licences. In an age where people often had little cheer in their lives we can be sure that they would have made the most of such an excuse.
East End's protest was heard at the Forfarshire Association's meeting held the Wednesday following the Final. Montrose pointed out that the delay in their arrival had been caused by the issues on the railway and was therefore not their fault. The match referee, Mr. Gamble, reported that the pitch had been perfectly playable, that the light had had no bearing on the final result and as if to rub salts in the wound stated that:
“Never in all my experiences of referring football matches have I been subjected to such disgraceful treatment as I received at the hands of the East End club. If I were to report to the Association what was expressed to me by five individual members, I think the Association would have no hesitation in suspending them.”
Unsurprisingly, the East End protest was refused and the Gable Endies got their first trophy, which was duly displayed in the Gutta Percha Boot & Shoe shop on the High Street.
When East End and Our Boys merged to form the Dundee Football and Athletic Club in June 1893, the new clubs took the majority of its players from the two clubs apart from two players they signed from Montrose. One was Scotland international Sandy Keillor and the other was goalkeeper Bill McKie who would line up against Rangers in Dundee’s first ever match at West Craigie Park on the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.
This was at a time when a glass of beer cost a penny and a half, admission cost 6d, the visitors were referred to as ‘the strangers’ and goalkeepers ‘custodians’ and Dundee’s first ever custodian had to pick the ball out of the net twice in the early stages.
Sandy Gilligan then scored Dundee’s first ever goal and this sparked a revival in which Sandy Keillor and Jimmy Dundas found the net and the fledgling homesters could be well pleased with their 3-3 draw.
The following week McKie was in goal as Celtic departed with a 4-1 win and although the next two games brought away successes over Renton (3-2) and Leith (5-3), Dundee managed only four wins from 13 games by mid December. To bolster the side therefore Dundee signed Dundee Harp goalkeeper Francis Barrett and it was the end of McKie’s Dundee career.
He had played in every game until mid October although he was not an ever present as Dundee had the bizarre situation of having to play a Scottish Cup tie on the same day as a league match in September. McKie lined up in the 3-0 league defeat against St Mirren at West Craigie Park while back up keeper Willie Gibson made his one and only Dundee appearance in the 4-2 Scottish Cup defeat away to Strathmore at Dundee’s future home of Carolina Port with the other reserve keeper George Ramsey playing in defence!
McKie played just ten times for The Dee but is a pioneer of the Club having played in the first ever match earning himself a special place in the history of Dundee.