Who and why should we honour?

Date: 25th August 2021

The latest SFSA blog provided to you by Donald Stewart.

Who and why should we honour?

“It has been a summer of protest, well actually a bit of a winter too. In the midst of a global pandemic, there have been plenty of people out and about hauling down the edifices of the past; to wit statues.

Imagine anyone suggesting that we should put one up?

Step forward Dundee United and the wee Jim statue.

Jim McLean stands as a colossus of 1980’s Scottish football. And so, he should. What he achieved with limited resources was nothing short of unbelievable. Under Mclean Dundee United came so close to trophy in Europe, won the league and managed to get a couple of domestic cups too. What consistently evaded him was the Scottish FA Cup. The rest was his.

By the time he retired from the dugout, his cult status was assured.

But Jim McLean was old school. A relic for many of a past that was more about hair dryers than sympathy, tea, toast and helping people find themselves. His was a philosophy of hard knocks, mainly from him, and character building. But he built a team with it and was highly successful too.

But a statue?

And why not?

Will we in a decade or ten have people protesting outside the Tannadice front doors demanding that the man who played for Dundee, and managed Dundee United should fall victim to the time honoured practice of changing the goalposts when nobody is paying attention?


To be honest I am quite laid back about the progress of thinking and, if in 100 years or so, the way in which Jim McLean managed his team becomes an area of disrepute, then fine. He never sold slaves, profited from tobacco nor was responsible for the wholesale pillaging of communities in the Caribbean. All he did was to take a moderate team and make them superstars. In a game of football.

I happen to disagree with taking down the statues. Not because I don’t think the likes of Edward Coulson or Cecil Rhodes don’t deserve to be exposed and their behaviour analysed and condemned. I don’t like the hauling down of their statues because I think it lets them off the hook. We should allow ourselves to gaze upon our past with fresh eyes and embrace the change and experience the guilt.

Recently I met someone in their sixties having a right royal go about how the young of today have created a world that is worse now than it has ever been. The old values had been lost, he claimed, and people were losing the morality that his generation had established. I then pointed out that this generation were jailing the very people his generation had given Knighthoods to. He became very quiet.

But whilst we do that in a serious manner, I am unable to think of anyone more deserving of a statue in Scottish football than Jim Mclean. His feat in taking Dundee United from a by-line on reports to the league champions, UEFA cup finalists, six time Scottish Cup finalists and 2 time League Cup winners aside, he also won Forfarshire Cup winners medals as a player for Dundee and manager for Dundee United. There can be few who can match that!

The only thing that strikes me as odd is that the statute is smiling. Now where did the artist get a picture of that – that may make it not only unique, but priceless…

The bronze statue will be unveiled at Tannadice Park, in a private ceremony on Saturday 18th of September 2021.The sculpture, commissioned and donated by Dundee United supporters and well-wishers from all over the world immortalises Jim as he proudly holds aloft the Premier Division trophy, won by United in 1983 for the only time in their history. Sculptor Alan Heriot is responsible for the creation of the iconic image. After the private ceremony the first opportunity for the public to see it shall be on Saturday the 18th of September from 6pm until 8pm. Thereafter fans attending the derby between his lifelong team as a manager, Dundee United and the team he joined them from, Dundee shall on Sunday the 19th of September be able to see the statue in all its glory from 9am onwards.”

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