Book Review: It’s All About The Memories by Jacqui Robertson and Kenny Ross
“This is a time of unprecedented uncertainty and disaffection in Scottish football, from the top of the game to the bottom…The extreme financial challenges facing Rangers and other SPL clubs, poor performances by Scottish clubs in Europe and the failure of the national team to reach the finals of a major competition since 1998, all add to a generally held feeling fuelled by an increasingly restive media, that the game has sunk to its lowest level in living memory.” This statement was made by outgoing Dundee FC chairman Bob Brannan in an open letter to the fans of the club in June 2010 and appears in the book titled “It’s All About The Memories” by Jacqui Robertson and Kenny Ross. This was a highly prophetic statement as in September 2010, Dundee FC entered administration and in the summer of 2012, Rangers were liquidated. To add a further twist to the tale, it was Dundee FC who took Rangers place in the Scottish Premier League this season after finishing runners up in the First Division in 2011/12.
This book tells the quite extraordinary tale of how The Dee found themselves facing a second spell of administration within the space of seven years. With the 2010/11 season underway, the club from Dens Park were then hit with a record 25 point deduction (the biggest in football history) as well as a transfer embargo. Incredibly, the team managed to avoid relegation, with a small squad of players that was supplemented by the use of trialists (who were limited to a maximum of three appearances) and managed by the previous Youth team manager, Barry Smith, assisted by two senior professionals, Matt Lockwood and Robert Douglas. This inexperienced management team steered Dundee to a club record 23 game unbeaten record against all the odds. Indeed the story of the 2010/11 season is so extraordinary that scriptwriters would be hard pushed to come up with a more outlandish plot. The reality is though that that those were the events of a monumental achievement in football terms, both on and off the pitch.
The writers of this book, Jacqui Robertson and Kenny Ross have captured the highs and lows of this period in the history of The Dee through interviews with many of the key figures from the 2010/11 season. Amongst those interviewed are Bryan Jackson, the Administrator from October 2010 to May 2011, players who were made redundant (Colin McMenamin and Paul McHale), players who were retained (Leigh Griffiths, Gary Harkins, Matt Lockwood and Rab Douglas), players who turned out as trialists (Tom Brighton, Neil McCann and Craig Robertson), key club officials (Gordon Wallace, Jim Thompson, Harry McLean and Laura Hayes), Graeme Brymer (a fan and moderator of the unofficial website “Dundee Mad”) and Barry Smith, who is currently managing Dundee FC in the Scottish Premier League. These interviews are interwoven with match details, and the unfurling of events “off the pitch” as the administrator battled to save the club.
What is evident through all those who contributed to the book is that the fans just wouldn’t allow the club to simply die. Their efforts in terms of fund raising, attending games home and away in numbers and the Dee-Fiant campaign, was staggering to read. The supporters truly became a “12th” man with the team feeding off the energy from the terraces. In the main this is a story of triumph over adversity, as not only did Dundee FC avoid relegation, but they emerged from administration in May 2011. However, the reality of what administration means to a club and its employees is also documented here. The release of players from their contracts as well as loyal club servants such as kit-man Neil Cosgrove is a note of sadness, which brings the reader back to earth with a bump.
In reading this book I came to understand more about the way administration works in football and gained a greater familiarity with the Scottish football scene. For fans of other clubs who see administration as the end of the road, this book will tell them otherwise. A great read, that I found genuinely inspiring.