They Wore the Dark and Light Blues

Over the history of Dundee Football Club, there has been a rich connection of players who have worn the Dark Blue of Dundee and the Light Blue of this weekend’s visitors Rangers, including two of the current Dens Park staff.

Greg Stewart and Rory Loy were both in the Ibrox youth ranks and although Greg left Rangers academy at the age of 13 to join Hearts, Rory made it to the Rangers first team making two substitute appearances for the Light Blues.

Rangers won the SPFL Championship last season, following in Dundee’s footsteps of two years ago and the Dark Blues 2014 title winning sides had a number of connections with Rangers.

Manager John Brown who took Dundee to the top of Championship before resigning in February 2014 had successful spells as a player with both Dundee and Rangers while top scorer Peter MacDonald started his career at Ibrox, working under Brown when he was youth coach. Championship winning captain Gavin Rae also spent four years at Ibrox and also skippered Rangers for a spell whom he joined from Dundee in 2004.

Gavin came through the youth ranks at Dens and made his first team debut in March 1996 and was part of the Dundee squad that won in the First Division title in 1998. It was in the SPL that Gavin began to flourish as he became an integral part of the Dark Blue midfield and in April 2000 became the first Dundee player to be capped by Scotland for fifteen years in a friendly away to Poland.

In 2003 Gavin lined up for Dundee against Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final and in the UEFA Cup campaign that followed, Gavin played in all four games against Vllaznia and Perugia, scoring a stunning volley in the home leg against the Albanians; one of the best goals ever scored at Dens. 

A couple of months later however Dundee went into administration and Rangers were able to snap Gavin up for a bargain £250,000. He made his Light Blue debut against Celtic in January 2004 and scored his first Rangers goal against his old club but his time at Ibrox was blighted by injury, starting with a hamstring that cut short his debut after just thirty minutes.

In early 2007 Gavin was named captain of Rangers after manager Paul Le Guen fell out with Barry Ferguson but when Le Guen resigned, new manager Walter Smith re-instated Ferguson as skipper. Smith did offer Gavin a new contract but he chose to try his luck elsewhere and joined Cardiff City in the summer.

Gavin spent four years in Wales, his highlight being the 2008 FA Cup Final against Portsmouth before returning to Dundee in October 2011. He didn’t stay long however as the lure of his hometown team Aberdeen was enough to tempt him north in January 2012 but it was not before he had made a significant impact in Dundee’s upturn in fortunes. His return to Dens in the summer of 2013 saw Gavin handed the armband and went onto enjoy his second promotion winning campaign with The Dee.

Gavin wasn’t the only Dee of his first spell at Dens who also played for both clubs as no fewer than seven of his Dark Blue team mates also played in a lighter shade of blue.

The first of those was Dariusz Adamczuk, who like Gavin had been part of the First Division winning side in 1998 and for the first season back in the SPL was joined by Steven Boyack who signed from Rangers. At the end of the inaugural SPL season Dariusz won the Dundee Player of the Year trophy before being snapped up by Rangers in the summer. The popular Pole had originally joined Dundee for a then club record fee of £250,000 from Eintracht Frankfurt before departing eight games later for another club record of £500,000 received from Udinese but returned two years later after the Italians hadn’t paid the fee and FIFA ruled he was still a Dundee player. Things didn’t work out for Dariusz at Ibrox however making only nineteen appearances in his three years in Govan.

The second of Gavin’s team mates to leave Dens Park for Ibrox had a much more productive spell in Govan winning the SPL title in 2003, two League Cups and one Scottish Cup and is considered one of the greatest Dees of all time. Claudio Paul Caniggia stunned the footballing world when he signed for Dundee FC in October 2000 and his last minute goal on his debut at Pittodrie is the stuff of legend.

Caniggia may have only been at Dens for one season but he made such an indelible mark, lighting up almost every game he played that he was inducted into the inaugural Dundee FC Hall of Fame in 2009. He turned in performances of such verve and dynamism for Dundee that he was nominated for Scottish Player of the Year and despite being 33 years of age, it was inevitable that he would attract attention from other clubs. After a virtuoso display over Rangers at Ibrox in March 2001 in which ‘The Bird’ scored the first in a 2-0 win, Dick Advocaat tabled at £900,000 bid and Caniggia was off to Govan where he stayed for two years winning four major titles.

Nacho Novo also played and scored in those same UEFA Cup ties as Gavin Rae, scoring in both legs against KS Vllaznia and the Spaniard would win Dundee’s Player of the Year at the end of that season before departing for Ibrox.

Nacho joined Dundee from Raith Rovers in the summer of 2002 for a fee of £100,000 and it was money well spent as he went on to score 34 goals in 86 appearances in the next two seasons. He particularly proved his worth after Dundee went into administration in November 2003 when he virtually played up front on his own for the rest of the campaign and his twenty-five goals did much to help stave off relegation which could have killed off the club.

At the end of the season it was obvious that Novo would have to be sold to balance the books and headed to Rangers for a fee of £50,000 after he personally waived his own £50,000 fee that his contract entitled him to, to make sure the deal went through.

Novo was a popular player at Ibrox winning three SPL titles, two League Cups and the 2009 Scottish Cup when he scored the winner against Falkirk 28 seconds after coming off the bench.

Novo was joining up at Ibrox with former Dundee team mate Zurab Khizanishvili who had signed for The Gers in the wake of playing for the Dark Blues in the 2003 Scottish Cup Final. The Georgian’s transfer however was a controversial one when an SPL tribunal ruled that Dundee were not entitled to any compensation for the twenty-one year old despite the Dark Blues hoping for around £200,000 for a player who had already played over twenty times for his country.

Another of Gavin Rae’s Dundee team mates to play for Rangers didn’t go to Ibrox direct from Dens as Neil McCann signed for Hearts in 1996 for £250,000. McCann also came through the youth ranks at Dens and made his first team debut in October 1993 and quickly established himself on the Dundee wing and in 1995 scored a sensational semi-final winner against Airdrie to send Dundee into the League Cup Final against Aberdeen.

It was not long after that Final that McCann left for Hearts and two years later, with a Scottish Cup winners’ medal in his pocket, he signed for Rangers for £1.8 million for which netted Dundee £350,000 thanks to a sell on clause inserted by Jim Duffy.

Five years with Rangers saw Neil win three SPL titles, two League Cups and four Scottish Cups including the 2003 Final against Dundee but he would memorably come back to help his old club during the Dee-Fiant season in 2011. He came out of retirement to play three games as a trialist and scored another sensational goal with a 94th minute winner against Raith during the club’s record unbeaten run and was inducted into Dundee’s Hall of Fame earlier this year with a Modern Heroes Award. 

Two of Dundee’s Championship winning side also played for Rangers with Craig Brown coming east from Ibrox in 1961 and Andy Penman heading West in 1967, while Bobby Seith also had a spell on the Ibrox coaching staff. ‘Penalty King’ Penman who was inducted into the 2011 DFC Hall of Fame, left Dens Park for Ibrox for £30,000 plus George McLean. Despite playing for Rangers for the next six years, that the 1961/62 Championship was surprisingly Penman’s only winner’s medal as these were barren years for Rangers and he missed the 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup triumph through injury.

George McLean came to Dundee as part of the Penman deal having been released by Rnagers in the wake of their humiliating defeat to Berwick in the Scottish Cup. His time at Ibrox did however seen him win two League championships, two League Cups and three Scottish Cups including a winners’ medal against Dundee in 1964 so there was no doubt Dundee were getting a player of quality.

In his first season with The Dee he would score 35 goals which included two in the 5-3 League Cup Final defeat to Celtic and five en route to Dundee reaching the Fairs Cup semi-final and he earned his one and only Scotland cap while at Dens. 

One of McLean’s team mates in that League Cup Final, Doug Houston would also play for Rangers when he surprisingly joined the Light Blues on the last day of the 1972/73 season for £30,000 fee. It was the end of eleven years with the Dens Park club in which he would play in two European semi-finals but his time at Ibrox was brief as he joined Dundee United before the year was out.

Doug Houston was the only player of note to play for both clubs in the Seventies but in the Eighties there were a number of players to turn out for both. The first of those was Ian Redford who joined Rangers from Dundee for a then Scottish record fee of £210,000 in February 1980 and he would win three League Cups and one Scottish Cup with the Ibrox men.

The last of Redford’s League Cup wins came in October 1984 against Dundee United and the Rangers side that day included two former Dees who had recently signed from Dundee. Cammy Fraser and Iain Ferguson had joined Rangers the previous summer for a combined fee of £350,000 which had been set by a tribunal and Ferguson scored the winning goal in that League Cup win over United. Both had been popular players at Dens and would return for future spells with The Dee and it was a huge blow when both had originally joined Rangers as new manager Archie Knox had publically stated that he wanted to build his team around them.

In more recent years there have been a number of players who have joined Dundee from Rangers either permanently or on loan and these include Gary McKenzie, Bob Davidson, Paul McHale and Calum Reidford who were signed by player/manager Alex Rae who himself played for Rangers between 2004 and 2006 and Giorgios Efrem and Andrew Shinnie.

Other players who have worn both the Dark and the Light Blues include Colin Hendry, Derek Ferguson, Ian McDougall, Jimmy Sharp. Dave McFarlane, David Gray, RC Hamilton, Tom Robertson, Billy Semple, Billy Smith, Geordie Henderson, Jim Steele, Andy Barrowman, Billy Dodds, Tom Brighton, Bob Malcolm and Tom Cowan, the seventh of Rae’s Dundee team mates who also played for Rangers.

John Brown and Alex Rae are also not the only Dundee managers to have been at Ibrox. The first ex-Ranger to manage The Dee was Billy McCandless who played for Rangers for the whole of the Roaring Twenties and managed Dundee for four years in the Depressing Thirties. Archie Knox, who managed Dundee in the mid-Eighties was Rangers assistant manager for most of the Nineties while legendary Rangers centre-forward Willie Thornton, who scored against Dundee in the 1951 League Cup Final went on to manage Dundee thirteen years later. Former Rangers player John Prentice had a spell in charge at Dens between 1968 and 1971 and he was replaced by former Rangers manager Davie White who is the last manager to bring a major trophy to Dens.

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