Not content with the widespread gutter reporting on the affairs of Dundee United over the past few weeks, two prominent Scottish daily rags decided it was time to single out Dundee.
A Dundee player, out of favour at Dens for some time, is attacked by a skinhead outside Dens Park and suddenly the Daily Record and Sun vie with each other to see who can dig up the most dirt. Sadly, most of it was without foundation. Even sadder, those who read it and are not aware of what is going on in Dundee, will believe it without question.
Patrizio Billio was attacked, no question of that. He has my sympathies and my well wishes, and I pray to God nothing like that ever happens again. It was a cowardly and unprovoked assault.
Having said that, he is a footballer who has chosen to put himself out of the game in order to collect a weekly wage with little or no returns other than a daily training jog round the streets of Dundee. I'd consider several thousand pounds a week for doing just that a pretty good income. But the stories of how Patrizio has been victimised, treated like an alien and abused by the people of Dundee doesn’t ring quite true to me.
But the problems with Pat and his fellow accomplice Marco Di Marchi, also out of favour and refusing to move to any other club, were taken several steps further by the above newspapers.
Suddenly, stories are appearing saying these players are being intimidated by the people of Dundee, they're scared to walk down the street, go into a shop, even, for fear of attack. Anyone who knows the Dundee support will also know that there is still respect for this pair and they are not viewed as enemies of the state in any way. I would suggest that most Dundee fans still have a fondness for them both and would like to see them back in Dundee colours once more. I know of no Arab fans who would see them other than heroes for their stance against the club.
But if this was not bad enough, suddenly stories are pulled out of any corner dirt can be found. Old ones, new ones, none of them with any real foundation. It doesn’t matter whether truth and fiction are mixed together, when two rival newspapers fight for sales, lies are just as much par for the course as any minute piece of genuine news.
Suddenly, the old Di Stefano story is rekindled. The story in today’s press suggested one of the rags had interviewed him and he seems to leave the question open as to whether he invests in Dundee F.C. or not. This seems dubious as no one else has been able to interview Di Stefano for the last two seasons. Despite the fact the man is involved with several top clubs throughout Europe, he seems to know every detail about the Billio assault and everything about Dundee. Doesn't smell right to me, somehow.
Then there’s the fact that Ivano had taken some time off in midweek to return home to Italy to arrange his wedding. He left his brother Dario in command, a man who knows as much about Dundee as Ivano does. Suddenly, the gutterpress suggest the players are upset and felt let down by their Manager’s not being there on Wednesday night. His absence cost them the game as he wasn’t there to inspire and cajole them to victory.
He sleeps in for training every other day, not starting until 1.30 to allow for his long lies. Anyone familiar with the Dundee training routine and who has actually went out to watch them knows this is not true. If Ivano has faults, lack of discipline and a disrespect for training routines are certainly not among them. He’s a stickler for timekeeping.
The Dundee bubble has burst – that’s the message the gutterpress are trying to convey. If I was Ivano Bonetti I’d pin the Daily Rangers and Hun newspapers on the dressing room door and allow the lies and deceit to inspire the players better than any other form of motivation.
I’ve never seen more evil, defamatory lies written by any Scottish sportswriters in all my time on this planet. When Peter Marr announced on Radio Tay tonight that there was no truth in the allegations, I hope he backs it up by by taking lawsuits out against the same gutterpress. If he does, it would not be the first time they have been accused of the same kind of unfair and evil diatribes against the innocent.
But then again, they've both been so angry at Dundee trying to compete with the best, (unsuccessfully so far), and having the cheek to start a mini revolution at Dens. You haven't upset my allegiance one bit, lads, if anything you've made me more determined to succeed. It might just have that effect on the guys in the dressing room as well.