Dundee entertain Aberdeen at Dens on Friday in the Ladbrokes Premiership and so we take a look at a player who has played for both clubs, Ian Fleming.
Fleming made one of the quickest impressions on the Dundee support when he netted ninety seconds into his debut against Kilmarnock but the hope that it was to be the start of a goal-laden career he had previously enjoyed at both Kilmarnock and Aberdeen was dashed when he was injured shortly afterwards. It was to be an indicator of his career at Dundee which was blighted by injury that would force him to miss the 1980 League Cup Final.
Born in Maybole on January 15th 1953, Ian joined local Ayrshire side Kilmarnock from Junior side Craigmark Bruntonians and enjoyed five good years at Rugby Park between 1971 and 1975. Ian played against Dundee in the 1973 League Cup semi-final, which The Dee won 1-0 thanks to a Tommy Gemmell winner and it would be Gemmell who would bring him to Dens seven years later.
However 51 goals in 94 league appearances had caught the eye of Aberdeen manager Ally McLeod and in December 1975, Fleming joined The Dons for a fee of £15,000.
Ian made the first of his 92 appearances for Aberdeen away at Rangers in February 1976 and the 5’9’ forward enjoyed playing alongside Joe Harper and Jocky Scott at Pittodrie in a team that included the likes of Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan. Fleming scored 23 goals in a three-year spell in the Granite City before heading down south to Sheffield Wednesday for a fee of £45,000; three times what The Dons had originally bought him for.
However Ian’s wife failed to settle in Sheffield and wanted to return to Scotland and when Dundee caught wind of this, they moved quickly to bring him back north. Wednesday wanted to recoup as much of the transfer fee as possible and when the clubs came to an agreement, Fleming signed for Dundee after just a year with The Owls.
Ian made his Dark Blue debut two days after he signed at his old stomping ground Rugby Park on February 9th 1980 but had to be substituted before half time after scoring the opener in the 1-1 draw.
Ian’s second goal for the club was another old stomping ground Pittodrie on April 9th but it is his third goal for the club ten days later, his first at Dens, which is his most famous for the club, in a 5-1 victory of league leaders Celtic.
Roy Aitken had given The Bhoys a five minutes lead but in a remarkable turnaround, goals by 17 year old Iain Ferguson (16 mins, 26 mins pen), Ian Fleming (43 mins), Eric Sinclair (59 mins) and Peter Mackie (71 mins) earned the Dark Blues a famous victory, capped off Ally Donaldson saving a Murdo MacLeod penalty.
Ian’s goal was crucial as it gave the Dark Blues a two-goal lead right before the interval and he claims it was his best goal for the club and his most memorable match.
Unfortunately Dundee were already deep in the relegation mire and the famous win didn’t stop them from going down to the First Division shortly afterwards. Tommy Gemmell resigned as manager and Ian’s new gaffer Donald McKay was tasked with getting Dundee back to the Premier Division at the first attempt.
However injury prevented Ian from making more than 12 appearances in Dundee’s promotion winning campaign as they went back up as runners-up behind Hibernian. Injury also prevented Ian from participating in the League Cup Final against United at Dens in December after playing four games en-route, including the famous 1-0 win over reigning Scottish champions Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the quarter-final.
Fleming did contribute a goal on the way to winning promotion with the second in a 3-1 win over Dumbarton at Dens in October and the following season made 24 appearances, scoring five times to help Dundee secure their place in the Premier Division.
In the summer of 1982 Fleming told Donald McKay that he wanted to try his luck in management and when Doug Houston left Brechin City to take over at Forfar, Ian applied for and was offered the job as player/manager. Dundee said they wouldn’t stand in his way and they parted on good terms after another 12 appearances at the start of 1982/83 season and he would go on to have a successful time ‘behind the hedge’ at Glebe Park.
Fleming led Brechin to the Scottish League Second Division title in his first season in charge and then kept them up in the First Division for the next three years, giving City one of their most successful spells in their history.
Ian left Glebe Park in 1986 and after a stint as assistant manager at Station Park, Forfar, moved to Iceland where he took over as manager of Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar.
Ian latterly worked for a company called Dimplex UK as their north of Scotland Project Manager as well as a scout for Friday’s visitors Aberdeen and he can still be seen regularly at Dens on a matchday, sitting in the press box working for the Press association.
Honours at Dundee:
Scottish League First Division runners-up: 1980/81
League: 44 + 4 subs, 5 goals
Scottish Cup: 2
League Cup: 10 + 4 subs, 4 goals
Totals: 64, 9 goals