In the first of a new series, some of our writers tell us their club’s greatest or worst ever transfers. To kick us off, STEVE MITCHELL sings the praises of Dundee United midfielder Eamonn Bannon.
One of the greatest things about the national pastime is the opinions that divide or unite fans and asking any supporter to name their greatest or worst ever signing is tantamount to opening the proverbial can of worms.
Rather than be hyper critical, on occasions like this I think it is time to celebrate achievements and contributions, and bearing this in mind, I can’t help but turn to a signature that the great Jim McLean secured in 1979 for the Tannadice club from Chelsea. Now, Dundee United fans will instantly recall the name of Eamonn Bannon, but will they also recall that the fee paid was a Scottish transfer record at the time? The figure of £165,000 – hardly seems worth noting – but for a club like Dundee United, this sort of outlay was massive.
Bannon was an extremely tricky customer to play against. Not the fastest but certainly a very skilful and energetic player with excellent distribution skills. Had Chelsea not suffered relegation the previous season or had their manager replaced early in the 1979/80 season, I doubt Bannon would ever have made it to United.
The Dundee United teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s were ones which brought the club the greatest success in terms of trophies and adventures in Europe; players like Paul Sturrock, Ralph Milne and Davie Dodds up front with Maurice Malpas, Paul Hegarty, Dave Narey and Richard Gough in defence, made us very difficult to beat – Bannon was instrumental in providing the opportunities for Sturrock, Dodds, Kevin Gallacher and others as United challenged the Old Firm clubs and Aberdeen for domestic honours.
Bannon made 290 appearances for United from 1979 to 1988 and scored 71 goals. His eleven Scotland caps were all achieved during his time at Tannadice. Bannon’s most memorable goal was probably the 5th goal for United in their UEFA Cup tie at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1981. A fine solo run down the left wing before cutting in to shoot past the hapless keeper was one for the highlight reel of any player.
United with Bannon won two League Cups in 1980/81 and 1981/82 and more importantly, a Premier League title in our only top flight success in 1982/83 and there can be nothing sweeter than securing the title on your city rival’s home ground!
During Bannon’s time at Tannadice, United played regularly in Europe and his contribution to the side’s success is not to be underestimated. We could have been in the 1984 European Cup final facing Liverpool but for a referee who admitted to taking a £50,000 bribe from Roma. We did make the UEFA Cup final in 1987 only to lose 2-1 on aggregate to IFK Gothenburg.
Eamonn Bannon was an integral part of the achievements of Jim McLean’s sides and I am sure that when people reflect on the fee paid and contribution made, their only conclusion will be that it was money very well spent.
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