BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
GARY IRVINE endured a nightmare derby day against Dundee United when he was sent off at Tannadice – on his birthday.
Now the St Mirren star is hoping for a more enjoyable trip to Tayside with the resurgent Buddies.
Irvine enjoyed six years with Dundee and was part of the ‘Dee-fiant’ squad that secured Championship survival in 2010/11 despite suffering a 25-point deduction as punishment for entering administration.
He subsequently helped them reach the Premiership and relished nine derbies against their fierce foes in the City of Discovery, however the 1-1 draw between the sides on March 17, 2013 – the day Irvine turned 28 – was one to forget.
“I’m not sure if ‘special’ is the word I’d use for Tannadice,” he smiled. “But it is a good place to play your football and is one for the boys to look forward to. Who knows what sort of reception I’ll get?
“The derbies were always brilliant experiences – usually televised, in front of sell-out crowds and the passion of a whole city focusing on one game. Those are the sort of games you want to experience.
“I had some good days in the derby . . . and some bad – I was sent off at Tannadice on my birthday. I actually came across that clip the other day and, to be honest, I still think it was a wee bit harsh. I was jumping for the ball and caught the boy [Richie Ryan] with an arm.
“Maybe I got a bit caught up in the derby atmosphere and everything that surrounds it, but that can happen. That was a really sore one and a bit of a nightmare to happen when you are playing in a massive derby game on your birthday. But the boys managed to get a draw.
“However, we did also break that ‘hoodoo’ that people spoke about – 10 years without a win – by beating them in 2015 and, by the time I left, I’d say Dundee had probably turned things around, which was nice.”
And Irvine reckons St Mirren’s visit to Tannadice is as big as any derby as Jack Ross’s men fight for their lives at the foot of the Championship, having pieced together a heartening run of three fixtures without defeat.
“It is starting to really click now,” added Irvine. “It has been really bright and positive ever since Jack Ross came in and we haven’t had too many bad performances. Now we are starting to get the results to go with that and we are determined to keep that going up at Tannadice.
“With the position we are in, every single game is a derby for us – a cup final – and this one is no different.”