Played for Dundee and St Johnstone – Duncan Lambie

Dundee host St Johnstone is the final game of 2016 and so we take a look at a player who played for both clubs, Duncan Lambie. Lambie was a young, pacy winger who wore the number 11 shirt when Dundee won the League Cup in 1973 and he would move up the River Tay to Perth in 1974, where he spent three years at Muirton.

Born in Whitburn the day after Dundee played Motherwell in the 1952 Scottish Cup Final, Duncan Lambie started his football career with Junior club Armadale Thistle and signed for Dundee in early 1971. Having impressed in the reserves in his first few months, Lambie was given his chance in the first team three days before his nineteenth birthday and he made he debut in a 1-0 away defeat at Morton on April 17th in the penultimate game of the season with Dundee already guaranteed a place in Europe.

He began the 1971/72 in the starting line up against Aberdeen at Pittodrie in a sectional League Cup tie on August 14th and made his home debut four days later against Falkirk in the same competition but it was in European competition that he would start to make his name and become a fans favourite on the left wing.

Having finished in fifth place the previous year, Dundee qualified for the new UEFA Cup after Europe’s footballing body took over the running of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and in the first round the Dark Blues drew Akademisk Boldclub from Copenhagen.

In the first leg in front of 9000 at Dens on September 15th, Lambie started on the bench but when he came on to replace Alex Kinninmonth, he made his mark by scoring his first goal for Dundee to round off a 4-2 win.

Lambie missed the second leg in Denmark which saw Dundee through after a John Duncan winner secured a 1-0 win, but he was back in the starting line up for the second round which paired The Dee with old European foes Cologne.

In the first leg in West Germany on September 20th, Dundee were content to soak up the pressure but were unlucky not to be ahead when Lambie had a goal chopped off for pushing an opponent.

Just after the break however, Cologne took a controversial lead when Bernd Rupp’s short corner was dummied by Flohe only for Rupp himself to set up Sheermann to score! Two consecutive touches from a corner kick were not in the rule book but the dummy had confused the referee as well as the Dundee defence and the goal stood.

Dundee equalised on 75 minutes through Alex Kinninmonth before Hennes Löhr got Cologne’s winner seven minutes from time but a disciplined display had given the Dark Blues high hopes of overturning the 2-1 deficit.

On November 3rd an enthusiastic 15,000 crowd turned up at Dens and with Lambie on the left wing, levelled the aggregate scores in the 12th minute thanks to a John Duncan header. It was a great start to the night but after an hour Cologne had scored twice to give themselves a 4-2 aggregate lead and it looked like The Dee were heading out.

However two goals from John Duncan to complete his hat-trick levelled the tie but with Cologne ahead on away goals, Dundee needed another to go through and with just seconds left Bobby Wilson crashed home the winner in one of the greatest matches ever played at Dens.

The reward for The Dee was to be drawn in the third round against AC Milan, another of their 1962/63 European Cup opponents but a 3-0 defeat in the first leg in the San Siro gave Dundee a near impossible task.

Lambie missed out on the trip to Italy but was restored to the starting line up for the home leg on November 24th and went on to produce his best performance in a Dark Blue shirt causing havoc all night with his runs at the Rossoneri’s defence.

A grimly determined Dundee besieged the visitors’ goalmouth and in 38 minutes their persistence was rewarded when Gordon Wallace headed home a Lambie cross past giant keeper Fabio Cudicini.

Before the game much of the talk had centred on the brilliant Gianni Rivera but on the night the Italian star was eclipsed by the immaculate performance of Iain Phillip. Another to impress was nineteen year old Dens winger Duncan Lambie and the former Falkirk bootboy was emerging as a player who revelled in the big match atmosphere. His direct running was giving Milan all sorts of problems and with 16 minutes remaining, he fired in a shot from 30 yards and although it crashed off the post, John Duncan on hand to knock home the rebound.

Urged on by the 15,500 crowd, the Dark Blues tried desperately to take the game to extra time but it was to avail as Milan sneaked through 3-2 on aggregate. Dundee had given the Milan giants a real fright and the Dark Blues’ exhilarating performance was well worthy of the crowd’s standing ovation.

Although disappointed at going out after his man of the match performance, Lambie did enjoy major success with Dundee when he part of the side which won the League Cup two years later.

Lambie played in 8 of the 12 games on the successful cup run, including the quarter, the semi and the final and scored the winner in a second round, first leg match away to Dunfermline which The Dee won 3-2.

In the Final Lambie lined up on the left wing against strong favourites Celtic at Hampden and found the going tough in the appalling snow, sleet and driving rain. He more than played his part in the 1-0 victory; the winner coming 14 minutes from time thanks to a fine Gordon Wallace strike which gave the Dark Blues their last major trophy to date.

The League Cup win also gave Dundee another passport into the UEFA Cup but Lambie didn’t feature in the first round tie with Racing White Daring Molenbeek of Belgium. By then Lambie was on his way to St Johnstone for £15,000 after just one start (and the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Airdrie at Dens) at the beginning of the 1974/75 season and it was disappointing that he never truly fulfilled the early potential he had shown.

Lambie spent three years at Muirton, scoring 8 times in 70 league appearances before signing for SpVgg Greuther Fürth in West Germany for the 1977/78 season. He returned to Scotland in the summer of 1978 and spent two years with Hibernian where he played alongside George Best before hanging up his boots.

At Dundee he is remembered as a popular winger with who turned on the style in Europe on more than one occasion and in December 2013was welcomed back to the club’s League Cup 40th anniversary dinner. Sadly Duncan passed away a year ago this month but his place in Dens Park history is assured as one of the players immortalised in that famous win.

Honours at Dundee:

Scottish League Cup winners: 1973/74

Appearances, Goals:

League: 58 +13 subs, 8 goals

Scottish Cup: 7

League Cup: 12 + 1 sub, 1 goal

Europe: 5 + 1 sub, 1 goal

Other: 4 + 1 sub

Totals: 102, 10 goals