A Violet Discovery – Dundee Violet – 29/04/23


Its about time I explored somewhere other than the Central Belt. Its almost May, which means a long weekend and thus, a chance to travel somewhere other than Glasgow, Edinburgh and its surrounding areas. I’d already been up to Inverness this season and taken in a Highland League game which leaves Aberdeen, the Borders and Dundee as the main parts of the country that I had not yet touched on my Scottish football expedition. I chose the latter as I was intrigued by the relatively new Scottish Midlands League and the wealth of historic clubs in participation.

My host city for today, Dundee is the fourth-largest in Scotland and has reinvented itself as a cultural and technological powerhouse. So much so that its contributions to digital entertainment and medical research encouraged UNESCO to make it the first city in the UK to receive the title of City of Design. Famously, Dundee is now known as the ‘City of Discovery’ after its plethora of scientific, world and digital findings and has an increasingly impressive waterfront to represent its regeneration and revitalisation.

Although Dundee is a pretty cool place to visit for these reasons, I’m here for the football. The city has an imbedded fitba’ culture with a ridiculous number of clubs representing the city from the Premiership all the way down to the Midlands League. Obviously, Dundee United and Dundee FC are the most well-known and successful and are particularly famous for their stadiums being the closest senior football grounds in the UK. Danny Dyer still ‘can’t get his nut ‘round it.’

However, I’m here to visit one of the many clubs in Dundee who are hoping to join their city giants in the upper echelons of the senior pyramid soon enough. Founded as early as 1883, Dundee Violet pre-date both of the big two by some distance and have a lot of history to back them up. Their honours list is a curious read with some interesting pieces of silverware lining their cabinet. Violet have won the Glasgow Clothing Cup 6 times despite being a good hour and a half away as well as the wonderfully named ‘Cream of the Barley’ 3 times. I’m not sure what cream of the barley is but it sounds like a decent Baileys knock-off you’d find in Aldi.

Even with their ridiculous number of trophies, the Scottish Junior Cup win of 1929 is undoubtedly the jewel in the Violet crown. In an interesting sequence of events, it took 3 games for Violet to lift the trophy. After the initial 4-0 drubbing of Denny Hibs was protested due to Violet fielding an ineligible player, the replayed game finished in an exciting 2-all draw. Thus, a third game played in front of 9000+ at Dens Park would have to be played, with Violet running out 4-0 winners once more. With the victory, they were written into the history books as the first club to bring the famous old trophy to Tayside.

Today, Violet find themselves as one of the many Dundee clubs hoping to one day extend their arms into the expanded (for now) pyramid. Plying their trade in the relatively new SJFA Midlands League, the club currently see themselves mid-table in a 19-team set-up with only a few games of the season to play. However, local pride is always at stake in this league with plenty of Dundee derbies to play over the course of the footballing calendar. This particular match-up sees Violet play host to Dundee St James who sit two places below in the table. I was hoping my first lower league experience in the City of Discovery would be a memorable one.


Glenesk Park is tucked away in an old, urbanised area of the city and is easily missed if not for the superb wall art dedicated to the Dundee Violet stalwart Tom McMahon, who sadly passed away in 2020 aged 90. From the memorial, entrance takes shape of a metal fence in the wall guarded by two friendly club volunteers who were ready and waiting to hand me my change from a tenner.

Walking in, there is plenty of room to manoeuvre with a few picnic tables for those wishing to park themselves with a few cans. I bet it’s unreal on a sunny day in May. On the right, the only real structure for supporters cannot be missed. A slightly elongated Coo Shed provides all the cover for punters taking in the game and looks lightly weathered in its appearance. No harm though, its concrete slab steps are a blast from the past and are a sign of Glenesk Park’s age and experience.

On the far side lies plenty of standing room and an elevated mound for those wishing for a higher vantage point for proceedings. It’s a good view and allows for a more tactical sight if that’s what you fancy. The playing surface is surrounded by a brick wall, perfect for coffee cup placement and a seat for spectators of a much younger age.

While the main arena is showing its age, the clubhouse is a lovely, modern bar armed with plenty of tables, a large flatscreen telly and a lovely ambience. It must have only been done up in the last few years as it looks fantastic. The club clearly take great care of it. If you’re ever at Glenesk Park, nip in for a pint or two.

Overall, Dundee Violet’s home is a mixture of old and new, rustic and modern and just plain simple. It is largely inoffensive and does the job for a club of Violet’s stature. For someone like me who has limited experience in junior football, it provides a peep through the keyhole at what football at this level is all about: cover, views and pints. 2.5/5


I honestly wasn’t sure what my expectations were for a general fixture at Violet, but the numbers at today’s fixture seemed a wee bit underwhelming. With Dundee United having a week off before the post-split fixtures and Dundee FC playing the night before, I was maybe expecting a good number to turn out for a local derby in the city with no Premiership or Championship football.

I will always commend those who come out for lower league action to support their local sides and I will always remain consistent in that view. Even without a larger number of spectators, you could tell those in attendance truly cared about the players on the field and the action they supplied. It felt as though something was on the line despite both clubs being in mid-table with nothing of real note to play for. For that, it is hard to give less than a 2/5.

Quality of the Match

After an impeccably observed minute’s silence, this Dundee derby started with an energetic feel. Both teams began the contest with the ball on the ground and an eye for a pass in behind. However, it didn’t take long for both sides to realise a long ball over the top from their centre backs was going to be the key to unlock their opponent’s defence. St James had the first few opportunities of the match and should have been at least a goal up. Firstly, a lovely ball over the top saw a one-on-one saved by Violet’s Paddy Irankunda with Connor Bisgrove’s follow up blazed over the bar. A let off for the hosts.

Next, a slack pass from Violet defender James Lawrie allowed another one-on-one, but had Irankunda to thank once more after a terrific block. The big man in goals was making a habit of supplying one-on-one stops after yet another 5 minutes later. A heavy touch from a St James striker allowed the ‘keeper to close the gap and save his team conceding. A brave move that had the stopper down for a good couple of minutes.

Finally, Violet stepped up and mustered a number of chances of their own. After a diagonal ball into the box found its way to Aiden Benvie at the back post, the forward’s effort was well blocked by St James ‘keeper Elliot Smith who was called into action for the first time after half an hour. However, he should have been picking the ball out of his net soon after. A lovely cross from the right found the head of striker Jay Harkin, but with acres of space he could only nod the ball wide. A huge opportunity.

Harkin looked to make amends straight away, and after a good passage of play found himself in on goal. However, his net-bound strike tipped the outside of the post via a delicate touch from Elliot Smith’s fingertips. A wonderful save from the St James ‘keeper. With both sides having created an abundance of clear-cut chances, it’s a wonder how the game went into the break goalless.

Half Time: Dundee Violet 0-0 Dundee St James

Both teams came out after half-time raring to go, and it didn’t take long for scoring to be opened. A surging drive from the St James forward line resulted in a green-shirted player being bundled to the ground inside the Violet penalty box. The referee had no doubt in his mind and pointed to the spot. Dylan Higgins stepped up and sent Irankunda the wrong way to draw first blood for the visitors.

Violet hit back 10 minutes later. Harkin continued to cause panic in the St James defence and found his way through on goal once more. He made no mistake this time by chipping the ball over Elliot Smith’s outstretched arm and into the net. Even Stevens.

St James could and should have gone ahead again soon after. Confusion in the Violet defence meant a lobbed ball over found St James’ number 4 with just the ‘keeper to beat. With Violet’s calls for offside falling on deaf ears, the visiting player tried a volleyed lob over Irankunda which fell wide of the post. A huge let-off for the hosts.

Harkin once again found himself at the centre of the action. With Violet finding joy down the flanks, a diagonal ball across found the striker, whose touch and volley from a tight angle had to be smartly saved from Smith. His overarching hand was enough to beat the ball away and save his side from falling behind for the first time in the match.

With the game nearing its conclusion and both teams running out of ideas, it turned into a scrappy affair with no real clear-cut chances to boot. The only real action came with 2 minutes to go after a high challenge from St James’ Connor Bisgrove saw the referee reach for a straight red. It almost felt like a sense of frustration leaking out from both sides after multiple missed opportunities to win the game were squandered.

Full Time: Dundee Violet 1-1 Dundee St James

As said, both teams will feel disappointed not to have come away with three points. Both goalkeepers had to be at their best in different ways to prevent their teams falling away, with Irankunda providing one-on-one dominance and Smith showcasing an athletic shot-stopping masterclass.  Regardless, this felt like an even contest and on the face of things probably merited a point each. It is clear that both sides have some talented players in their midst which in reflection added to the evenness of the game.

For this reason, it is hard to complain about any aspects of the match. Although it may not have been the prettiest watch at times, this is partly due to both sides battling in midfield to prevent the other from playing. I don’t mind it as it shows grit and determination to stop your opponent from dictating possession. I saw some excellent goalkeeping displays, a battling performance from both sides and a real passion to win. I feel this deserves a 3/5.


Tier 6 games provide tier 6 prices. For a Dundee derby, I paid a measly £6 for entry and a further £3.50 for a pint. I’m not sure there is anybody who can shake their fist at a game of football and a pint for less than a tenner. I certainly wouldn’t. 5/5 all day long.

Final Score

Dundee Violet end the day with a decent score of 12.5/20 from me. I really enjoyed my experience in a rustic wee ground with plenty of modern perks. I always enjoy a visit to lower league grounds where the football mostly plays second fiddle to the arena around it. Dundee Violet is no different. It clearly has a part to play in the community and means a lot to those who continue to support and volunteer for the club. If you haven’t been to Glenesk Park yet, get yourself up and see it for yourself. It is certainly a different, but worthwhile experience. I hope to return to the City of Discovery soon enough for more Midlands League action.

– Connor

2 responses to “A Violet Discovery – Dundee Violet – 29/04/23”

  1. Roland Shapiro avatar
    Roland Shapiro

    Hey Conner
    Man i feel like i was there with you!

    Liked by 1 person

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