Just 20 days short of a full year in charge of the club – manager John Brown and Dundee FC parted company by mutual agreement.
A former Dundee player – John played 135 times for the club during his spell at Dens in the 1980’s. In February of 2013, following the departure of Barry Smith, John took charge with the club 15 points adrift at the bottom of the SPL table.
Initially being appointed as Interim boss, John’s first match in the dugout came at Dens against St. Johnstone. The Perth side took the lead but shortly after John Baird headed home for The Dees’ first goal in over nine hours of football. Saints took the lead again following the sending off of Declan Gallagher but a fighting spirit was on show and Mark Stewart netted with two minutes remaining to give Dundee a point after four defeats in a row.
The following weekend, ‘Bomber’ stepped into the dugout for his first Dundee derby in charge of the side. Previously in the season United had strolled to two 3-0 derby wins and took the lead early at Dens in the William Hill Scottish Cup Quarter Final tie. Jim McAlister hit back for Dundee and despite Gary Mackay-Steven grabbing a winner Dundee looked a different team and dominated for large spells.
John followed that Derby with his first win in charge of the side which gave a glimmer of hope to Dundee’s survival hopes. A really poor first half against St. Mirren at Dens looked like it could end those hopes but Dundee dug in and Baird then McAlister struck to give Dundee their first league win in just under four months.
Momentum was building with Dundee putting up more of a fight, a late Inverness Caley Thistle goal at Dens denied the team making back to back victories and the following week it looked like John’s side would be in for a tough time when they went down to 10 men early at Tannadice with Gary Irvine seeing red. The fight continued to show through though and Ryan Conroy struck to give the 10 men the lead in the second period. United struck late on the deny Dundee a derby victory but the signs were very encouraging.
One of the only blips in his spell in charge in the SPL came when Motherwell visited Dens and after a professional performance left with a 3-0 victory. Dundee could have accepted defeat in the battle at that stage but instead moved up the gears.
Gary Harkins – given a free role by John – put in a master class at his former club Kilmarnock’s home and denied them a top 6 place with a double to give Dundee all three points in a 2-1 win. That sent Dundee in the split still fighting for their lives, something which didn’t seem possible when John took over the job.
Next up was a trip to St Mirren Park, knowing anything but a win would see them relegated. McAlister stepped up again and put Dundee ahead. St Mirren levelled but Carl Finnigan headed home to give Dundee another three points. The tails were up and Hearts were next to be defeated with Conroy’s goal continuing the run for another week.
The up-turn in fortune saw John be rewarded with the SPL Manager of the Month award but more importantly he was appointed as the permanent manager of the club after his successful spell as Interim.
Three wins in a row for the first time in the season saw Dundee only two matches away from taking it to the last match of the season and with St Mirren already being defeated the previous day they welcomed Aberdeen the Dens. Dundee took the lead – McAlister again – but a controversial penalty decision went again them and Niall McGinn’s penalty ended Dundee battle.
Dundee ended the season with two defeats played very much as end of season affairs.
John then went about building a side to gain promotion back to the top flight at first attempt. Peter MacDonald and Willie Dyer were first to join with former Dee Gavin Rae brought back in a playing and coaching role.
Re-signing’s were made with the bulk of the squad which pushed St Mirren so close in the relegation battled signed up for the new season.
Carlo Monti who impressed on trial in pre-season, Stephen Doris and Kyle Letheren were next to join the squad. The season started with a trip to Alloa in the Ramsdens Cup and Monti’s penalty was enough to see Dundee through.
The league started with a defeat away to Queen of the South. MacDonald gave Dundee the lead but Queens cut through Dundee with ease after levelling and soon found themselves 4-1 in front. Dundee changed the game plan but it was too little too late and two late goals only made the scoreline look more respectable.
Dundee’s first three points of the season came in the first home game of the season but they required a late penalty from Kevin McBride against Alloa to secure them. That was followed up by two cup victories over Forfar either side of a 0-0 draw away to Raith. Both matches with the Station Park side required extra time. John’s side ended August with a comfortable victory over Livingston at Dens, running out 3-0 winners.
A defeat at home to Stenhousemuir on penalties saw Dundee crash out of the Ramsdens Cup and a 0-0 draw with Hamilton was followed up by a disappointing performance and result at Falkirk. The home side winning 3-1. Dundee improved in a home match with Caley Thistle in the League Cup. Caley won 1-0 before going on the make the final of the competition.
That better performance sparked a run of better results for the side. Victories over Morton, Cowdenbeath, Dumbarton and Queen of the South put Dundee right amongst it at the top of the division. That October spell was John’s best in charge in the SPFL Championship as inconstancy would cost Dundee over the next few weeks an months.
A defeat to Livingston through a last minute goal was followed by a comfortable win over Raith at Dens on November the 9th. Dundee looked to be heading for another set of back to back wins but a late goal from Falkirk meant they had to share the spoils in the next home game. Next up was a trip to league leaders Hamilton but a solid and professional performance from Dundee saw them cruise to a 3-0 victory.
Defeat in the Willam Hill Scottish Cup to Raith was followed up by Dundee heading to the top of the table with a win over Morton. They failed to build on that though and another home defeat, this time to Cowdenbeath was next. Three wins on the trot next seemed to steady the ship again but defeat at home to Livingston was followed by a bad day at the office away to Falkirk.
A formation change saw Dundee line up 3-5-2 but soon change to 4-4-2 with Falkirk already leading, Dundee couldn’t get to grips with the match and a sending off for Kyle Letheren just on half time all but ended the match. Falkirk went on the score again and finish at 2-0 winners. Dundee looked to put that behind them with a win over Alloa at Dens and despite an even first half, started the second period well and took the lead through a Conroy penalty. It looked like Dundee would see out the match but Alloa struck with the last kick of the game to earn a point.
Two days after, John and the club have parted company with the former boss – who leaves the club joint top of the table – stated that he still passionately wants Dundee FC to win the league this season and would share in our pride if we go on to do so.
We wish John all the best in the future.