Hall of Fame - Steel
Everyone has a reason they support their football club, we've heard reasons as random as sticking a pin into the league table of the Sunday Post - believe us that's why one of Dundee's long term fans support the Dee - to supporting the team who you believed were most likely to win the league (we know Dees who fall into that category too).
One of the players inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame is the reason that the web site editor's family follow the Dark Blues - we were raised on tales of Billy Steel.
Billy Steel had impressed the football world since his appearance for the Scottish schoolboys in 1937. His development was so quick that both Leicester City and St. Mirren were left frustrated as they were prevented from signing him on professional contracts by his young age. He signed for Morton on his seventeenth birthday but the outbreak of war only delayed his footballing prowess and by 1947 Derby County had splashed out a British record transfer fee of £15,500 to take his talent to the Baseball Ground.
By September 1950 he had developed into one of the first football superstars who was determined to earn enough money from the game to make him financially secure by the time he retired from playing. He had 17 caps to his name and since his wonder goal for Great Britain against the Rest of the World in 1947 he was regarded as one of the best inside forwards in the world. When he was in dispute with Derby over his insistence on training in Glasgow he was rumoured to be attracting interest from Aberdeen and Rangers. What no one knew was that Dundee boss George Anderson was working on a deal to bring him to Dens. George Anderson wanted the best for Dundee and in Billy Steel there was no finer inside forward so when an initial approach was rejected he re-doubled his efforts and offered a new record British transfer fee of £23,000. Derby were delighted but would Billy want to come to Dundee? The Internationalist recalled years later that it was the manager’s persuasive charm that convinced him to sign for Dundee.
The country was shocked by the news and Dundonians were ecstatic and 34,000 turned out to watch his debut at home to Aberdeen. “Budgem”, as he was nicknamed, did not disappoint, netting the opening goal with victory sealed by a further strike from Jimmy Toner. The increase of 9,000 on the previous home gate also convinced the Dundee board that they had made the correct decision.
Billy’s outstanding ability gave him a confidence, often seen as arrogance, that was not always welcomed by his fellow players but they also recalled his impact on the park which brought them success that had slipped from their grasp in previous years. A year after his arrival Dundee beat Rangers to win the League Cup with Billy setting up Alfie Boyd for the winning goal. Success bred more success and the following year Dundee became the first club to retain the League Cup by beating Kilmarnock in the final. Billy was also influential in scoring in four of the six rounds as Dundee reached their first Scottish Cup final in 27 years only to lose out to Motherwell.
Billy played a total of 131 games for the club scoring 45 goals and also gained a further 13 Scotland caps during his Dens career, playing alongside Doug Cowie in two Internationals against England and Sweden.
The dream for both club and player ended in 1954 when the enigmatic star wished to play in America with Los Angeles Danes, a move finally granted by the club after a stand-off between both parties.
Tommy Gallagher played alongside Billy at Dens and through his reporting for the local newspaper watched hundreds of players wear the Dark Blue shirt. His belief was that Billy Steel was the best player ever to play for Dundee and many who were lucky to watch him would agree. What is certain is that there can be no doubt of his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.