Date: 04 August 2012
Venue: Rugby Park
Competition: League - SPL
7 years, 2 months and 14 days; 2,632 long, long days since that miserable afternoon when Dundee were relegated at Livingston.
But Dundee are back in the SPL now, and won their first point of the season with a well deserved goalless draw at Kilmarnock in front of a large, fanatical, and marvellously noisy Dark Blue support who roared the team on every step of the way.
This wasn't a classic, or a game for the purists, but it was far more entertaining than most goalless draws, with both teams trying their hardest to win, and a tolerant referee who seemed prepared to let the players get stuck into each other.
The importance of the game and the huge Dundee support created a great sense of occasion. The alternating sunshine, heavy showers, thunder and the odd flash of lighting added to the drama.
Davide Grassi's clearance did not come through in time, but new signings Mark Stewart and Jamie McAlister made their debuts. Iain Davidson returned to central midfield, allowing Gary Irvine to move back to his usual right back slot, and Kyle Benedictus to slot into central defence.
Killie had the first chance when Kennedy's low cross was deflected to Fowler, 15 yards out, but Douglas saved well.
Dundee's passing showed a massive improvement from the sloppy performance at Peterhead, and the Dee responded quickly with a neatly worked move. Conroy's deft through ball sent McAlister to the byline and his cutback found Irvine whose shot was charged down.
John Baird had the best chance of the first half when he caught Kelly dawdling on the ball 30 yards from goal. He ran on and curled his shot wide, perhaps surprised that the referee had not given the free kick that Kelly was angrily demanding.
Killie had a half chance when Douglas punched a dangerous shot out to the edge of the area. Gary Harkins was the last man Dundee supporters would have wanted to see running onto the ball, but he couldn't keep his shot on target.
Dundee again split open Kilmarnock's defence when McBride sent a lovely pass through for McAlister to try and round Bell, but Killie's keeper reacted quickly to block.
In the early stages of the second half it didn't seem possible that the match might end without a goal. Play surged from end to end, with both teams looking dangerous every time they crossed the half way line.
John Baird was playing as a deep striker, linking well with the midfield and sending a succession of good passes out wide. Kevin McBride and Iain Davidson gave solid performances in the centre of the park and ensured that Kilmarnock weren't able to stroll around and dictate play.
The longer the half went on the more ragged Killie's passing became. Most of their moves broke down with a poor final ball, especially when they tried to fire in crosses.
Dundee seemed to grow in confidence the longer the game went on. They kept working hard and passing patiently, while Killie increasingly resorted to hopeful long balls. The Dundee defence kept their concentration and dealt calmly with Kilmarnock's largely ineffective attempts to apply pressure.
In the last 10 minutes the game opened up with both sides trying to grab all the points. It was Dundee who had the best chance when Baird passed down the left and Stewart skinned Nelson to run clear from the left wing. Sadly, his shot curled high with the large Dundee support desperately willing the ball in. Deep into injury time Douglas sprang to his right to push McKenzie's shot clear and that was the end of the action.
The whole team played well today, from back to front, as individuals and as a unit. There were no stars and certainly no failures. Barry Smith will be proud of his players and very pleased with the commitment, discipline and organisation that they showed. It will be a long, hard season and the Dundee players will need to show all these qualities in every game.
However, there was some good football from the Dee here today, and the Dark Blue supporters saw enough to let them feel some optimism about the campaign. These supporters will have a huge part to play. The noisy, unstinting support filled the stadium, created a great atmosphere and gave the players a massive lift.
When the final whistle blew the Dundee supporters all rose to cheer the players off the pitch after what must have been the most enjoyable goalless draw they've seen in many years. As I looked at the thousands of Dees singing and cheering, filling the away end, I wondered how many of them endured that terrible afternoon at Livingston. Some people have grumbled about Dundee being in the SPL, but no-one can claim that these supporters don't deserve it after all the club has been through and all that these fans have done to save the club.
Dundee are back! The players, supporters and everyone at Dens is determined to prove that they belong in the SPL. It's great to be back!
Kilmarnock FC 4-3-1-2
O'Leary, Nelson, Pascali, Tesselaar
Johnson (Racchi 65), Fowler, Kelly
Dayton (Boulding 65), Kennedy (McKenzie 77)
Unused subs; Letheren (gk), Fisher, McKeown, Winchester
Dundee FC 4-4-2
Irvine, Benedictus, McGregor, Lockwood
McAlister, Davidson, McBride (Webster 75), Conroy
John Baird, Stewart
Unused subs; Alex Baird (gk), McCluskey, Gallagher, McIntosh, Reid
Bookings; Lockwood (foul on Fowler), Davidson (foul on McKenzie)
Attendance; 6,543 (2,780 Dees)
Referee; Bobby Madden
Report; James Christie