My mate Barry turned 45 last week. That means it’s five years since he told his wife that the weekend she had booked at a luxury hotel to celebrate his landmark birthday would be wasted as he was going to Dens to hold up a red card in an attempt to have Dundee’s 25-point penalty for going into administration (again) overturned.
Like many married men, I enthusiastically share such stories with my wife, immediately followed by “what a bastard, eh? I’d never do that to you honey”, in an attempt to prove that I am relatively passable in the husband stakes. Somehow “at least I’m not Barry” never cuts the mustard you think it will when you wake up to a cold shoulder and a lukewarm pile of vomit after staying out all night to celebrate a narrow win over Motherwell.
Anyway, my mate risking the wrath of his beloved and Dundee’s remarkable unbeaten run to avoid the relegation the point deduction was designed to ensure coincided with the build up to my own nuptials. I proposed hours after Dundee beat Ross County 2-0 at Dens (Leigh Griffiths double), chose my wedding ring as news reached me that we were 2-0 up at Falkirk (final score 3-3), and our wedding was the day before Dundee drew with Stirling Albion at Dens (being a better husband than Barry I decided to give the game a miss and spend the day drinking cider with the missus).
I could give dozens of examples of significant events from my life I can chronologically place only by their proximity to the ongoing misadventures of Dundee FC. If I’m asked if I remember a certain party or night out I’ll answer “of course, so-and-so did such-and-such” but inside I’m thinking “When was that? Hamilton at New Douglas Park. 0-0 draw. Hogmanay ’05”. Where was my dad when JFK got shot? Probably planning his carry-out for the train through to Tynecastle the next day.
I’m sure many, if not most, fans are the same about their own team. It’s not that these football-related happening are more important than events affecting our relationships, families and careers but rather spending so much time obsessing about the one thing provides us with a handy way of storing a myriad of information within a single, easily accessible framework. Think of it like a neurological Pinterest in which semi-finals at Easter Road, humpings at Ibrox and goalless draws at McDiarmid Park play a vital role in the algorithm.
It certainly works for Barry and in the run up to last weekend’s game he sent myself and some other Dundee-supporting mates an email detailing his top ten birthday weekend wins. He believes the passing of another year has somehow proved lucky over the years and his list included several derby triumphs, Dundee lifting the inaugural B&Q Centenary Cup (more of a decanter, really) and that day five years ago when a late winner on an emotion-fuelled day briefly made up for several nights in the single bed.
It should be said that unless 45 years of results can be produced we have no way of verifying Barry’s theory, but he is adamant that even poor Dundee sides have all produced the goods on his birthday weekend. With that in mind, he is less than pleased that Paul Hartley, with two disappointing home draws in the last two years, is letting the side down. Who knows though, maybe they would have been defeats a week either side of the big day. If empirical evidence can be gathered proving the case then look out for a future change.org petition calling for him to be granted a second birthday. If it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for my pal, even if he isn’t half the husband I am.
Did I tell you that Barry also left his 9-months pregnant wife to fly over to our 2003 UEFA Cup game in Perugia? No? I definitely told my wife about it.