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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.
Billy Thomson may not be a bone fide Dundee goalkeeping great but he merits an honourable mention in any book about Dundee goalkeepers for his man of the match performance in a famous League Cup derby win at Tannadice.
William Marshall Thomson was born in Linwood on February 10th 1958 and started his career with Partick Thistle for whom he made one appearance but it was at St Mirren that he made his name and earned seven international caps for Scotland.
After a fall out with St Mirren, Thomson signed for Dundee United in 1984 and was unlucky not to add to his international caps after appearing in the 1987 and 1988 Scottish Cup Finals and was fantastic in the run to the 1987 UEFA Cup Final. After losing his place to Alan Main, Billy moved to Motherwell in 1992 and two years later, made a surprise move to Rangers as back up and ended up appearing in the Champions League.
In the summer of 1996 Rangers gave Thomson a free transfer and by then Dundee were locked into an increasingly downward spiral and appeared ill-equipped for a promotion challenge. It was no surprise that the cash-strapped Dark Blues turned to the free transfer market and manager Jim Duffy brought in the thirty-eight year old Thomson to replace the popular Michel Pageaud who had left under the new freedom of contract created under the Bosman Ruling.
Thomson made his Dundee debut on August 8th 1996 in a 3-0 win over Stenhousemuir in the Scottish League Challenge Cup at Dens and it was the first of thirteen clean sheets he would keep in thirty-three appearances that season.
Billy missed the League Cup second round win over Dumbarton through injury when sixteen year old Jamie Langfield had to make his debut but was fit and available again to face his old club Dundee United when the clubs drew each other in the third round.
United were back in the Premier Division having been promoted through a play-off the previous year when Dundee finished fifth so The Dark Blues were determined to make a point when they crossed the road to Tannadice on September 3rd 1996 for the Coca-Cola Cup third round tie.
On a warm, humid evening in front of 11,902 United made a great start and almost took the lead through captain Dave Bowman but Thomson tipped his first time shot round the post. This was a set a pattern for the evening as Billy was to continually deny his former employers although United took the lead on twenty minutes when Owen Coyle knocked home the rebound after Thomson could only parry McSwegan’s shot.
Just after the half hour Dundee were back on level terms when Jim Hamilton scored from the spot. When a corner came over, referee Willie Young awarded a penalty for pushing in the box from which Jim Hamilton scored; although United keeper Ally Maxwell almost succeeded in keeping out his shot before the ball spun in to the corner of the net.
The frantic pace continued unabated and Billy Thomson made two great saves from Gary McSwegan and Owen Coyle, before pulling off a great block to stop a McSwegan effort from twelve yards.
Not to be outdone Ally Maxwell produced a fine one-handed save to tip over a Hamilton header. The catalogue of good saves by both keepers mounted up before the end of ninety minutes, and so the tie went into extra-time. This only served to add to the frenzy of the game. Both sides hit the woodwork; Hamilton heading against the bar and McSwegan crashing a shot off the post a minute later. Goal mouth incidents were never ending and Coyle ushered a Robbie Raeside header off the line and Billy Thomson was back in action with a great save from a McSwegan free-kick.
It was Dundee however who were to go in front, albeit with a huge slice of luck. Chic Charnley, who was displaying a midfield masterclass, deftly rolled the ball along the edge of United’s box to Kevin Bain and although Maxwell looked to have the shot well covered, it struck Jim Hamilton and left the United keeper stranded as it bounced into the net.
Kevin Magee then cracked an angled shot off the post but with ten minutes of extra-time remaining Gary McSwegan ran on to a Robbie Winters lofted pass and finally beat Billy Thomson, blasting the ball past him from twelve yards.
The final whistle went and with Tannadice in a ferment the drama continued into a penalty shoot out. In turn Charnley, Tosh and McKeown scored for Dundee with McKinnon and former Dee Neil Duffy doing likewise for United. McSwegan then stepped up and Billy Thomson saved his kick before the ice-cool Iain Ferguson made it 4-2 to The Dee.
Ferguson had been brought off the bench by Jim Duffy in the last seconds of extra time to take a penalty kick and the Dark Blues were now on the verge of a cup shock.
Owen Coyle stepped forward but Thomson guessed right to block his effort and clinch the tie in Dundee’s favour. Both United scorers had their penalties stopped by Thomson and Billy was the undoubted Dark Blue hero. He was awarded a Coca-Cola bicycle from the sponsors who named him as man of the match and he gave it to George Shaw to help him get to work after he had lost his driving license.
The penalties had been taken in front of the East Stand at Tannadice but the players ran to the opposite end where the Dark Blue support was housed to celebrate with their delirious support on an unforgettable evening. Chic Charnley stripped off, throwing his shirt, shorts and socks into the Shed and the celebrations went on long into the night.
Thomson was in goal again in the as The Dee gained revenge for the 1995 Final defeat by knocking out Premier Division Aberdeen in the quarters. Jim Hamilton was the goal scoring hero again by netting the winner in injury time but Billy couldn’t prevent Hearts winning the semi-final 3-1 at Easter Road.
It had been a fantastic cup run however, knocking out two top tier sides and reaching the semis on the back of Final appearance the year before but the league campaign ended in disappointment and frustration as The Dee missed out on the play-off by two points behind Airdrieonians.
Billy hung up his gloves at the end of the season and joined the Dundee coaching staff and was instrumental in coaching and mentoring his replacement Robert Douglas into the fine goalkeeper he became for club and country.
Billy left Dundee to take up a similar post at Ibrox in May 2001 and then in August 2007 left Rangers to become goalkeeping coach at Kilmarnock where he remains.
At Dens Billy will always be remembered for his superb display on a balmy evening at Tannadice as he turned in an age-defying performance to help knock United out of the League Cup in one of the most memorable derbies ever.
August 9th, 1996
Dundee 3 - 0 Stenhousemuir
Challenge Cup (1st Round)
|Competition||NPS||G2G||Win %||Draw %||Loss %|
|Recent Starting Appearances (First Team Competitive matches)|
|May 3rd, 1997||03/05/97||League||First Division||vs. Morton (A)||1 - 1|
|Apr 26th, 1997||26/04/97||League||First Division||vs. Partick (H)||1 - 1|
|Apr 19th, 1997||19/04/97||League||First Division||vs. St Mirren (H)||2 - 0|
|Apr 12th, 1997||12/04/97||League||First Division||vs. Airdrie (1878) (A)||0 - 2|
|Feb 18th, 1997||18/02/97||Scottish Cup||4th Round Replay||vs. Morton (H)||0 - 1|
|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|