By Far MY Greatest Team: Dundee United 2010 – Part 2

Welcome to part two of the review of Dundee United’s Scottish Cup winning team from 2010. In instalment one, we looked at the defence, as well as right midfielder Danny Swanson. Part two will begin with the remaining midfielders, Prince Buaben, Morgaro Gomis and Craig Conway, along with the attacking dream team of Jon Daly and David Goodwillie. Read on to find out about the who’s, where’s and when’s of the teams attackers.

CM Prince Buaben

For the bulk of his time at Tannadice, it became a running joke that the stadium announcer never quite knew how to
pronounce the Ghanaian midfielders surname. The pronunciation may be a mystery to many, but he is still remember fondly by many United fans. He was brought across to The Netherlands by his mother, and he was drafted into the Ajax youth academy as a result. Work permit issues meant that he was unable to continue his career with the European giants of the past, and he was let do. Craig Levein picked up the player, who trained as a striker in his Ajax game, and helped mould him into a classy ball playing midfielder. Over his four years at Dundee United, Buaben formed a strong midfield partnership with French-Senegalese midfielder Morgaro Gomis, with the pair developing a telepathic relationship on the pitch, and a wonderful friendship off it. He was in and out of the team during his first season, with rumours that he was unable to play due to a contractual clause indicating that the club would need to pay out a large sum if he played so many games in his first season. Buaben played a solid game in the cup final, and then continued that fine form into the following season. It was announced towards the end of the 2010-11 season that Prince would be leaving, following the players desire to play football in England, entwined with United’s inability to match his wage demands. He made a move to the Championship, joining Watford, where he played a large amount in his first season, but only managed one game the next year. Bauben joined Carlisle United on a free in 2013, but struggled to make an impact here. He joined Partick Thistle on loan for the second half of the season and fitted in well; evidently a player suited to the Scottish game. Buaben was obviously reeling from his struggles down south, and rejoined Scottish football on a permanent contract.

He joined Heart of Midlothian, recently relegated to the Scottish Championship. He became a fan favourite early on, scoring in a derby game against Hibernian. He enjoyed a wonderful season for Hearts, who had Craig Levein as a director of football during his time there. His calming influence in the middle of the park saw Hearts promoted with ease, earning himself a contract extension and a return to the top flight. Four years on and Buaben is still at Hearts, although his playing time has been reduced in recent months. The Ghanian midfielder has enjoyed two wonderful spells in Scottish football over the past decade and at the age of only 29, has much more playing time left in the tank.

CM Morgaro Gomis

“He’s magic on the ball, he comes from Senegal, Morgaroooooooo, Morgaroooooooo!” This was a popular chant directed towards the classy midfielder. He identifies as French, and was born there, but played international football for Senegal (twice, in 2009). He was signed at a similar time to Prince Buaben, and the timing may have led to the great bond the two midfielders shared. They lived together and formed a bond on the pitch, becoming great friends and great team mates. After years of doing the rounds in the lower leagues of English football, he joined Cowdenbeath in the lower echelons of Scottish football. After just five months, Craig Levein lured Gomis to Tannadice, where the player became an ever-present in the first team. He had incredible ball retention, able to fend off larger players with his poise and positioning, despite his short stature. He wasn’t known for his goalscoring, but of the 150 appearances he made for United, the goals he scored were pretty special. In his first full season at United he won Scottish Young Player of the Season as well as goal of the season, for his stunning strike against St Mirren. He made his mark in the 2010 cup final, playing the killer long pass which saw Ross County ‘keeper Michael McGovern race off his line, leading to David Goodwillie’s goal. He also played in the pass to Craig Conway to allow the winger to net the games third goal. Morgaro Gomis was loved by Dundee United fans from day one, and was adored after the cup final. In the summer of 2011, it was announced that he would not be renewing his contract, instead moving down to England. Fans were devastated, but understood that the players ability was above and beyond the SPFL.

He joined Birmingham City in the English Championship, however this move went sour fast, with Alex McLeish leaving the club just days after signing Morgaro. He played 31 games over two years at Birmingham, but ultimately was another player to try and fail in the English Championship. He rejoined Dundee United under professional ex-Celtic player Jackie McNamara, and became a bit part player. Just as central midfielders struggled to usurp Buaben and Gomis for years, Gomis now struggled to get past John Rankin and Paul Paton in the United midfield. After one season back at Tanadice, which featured a defeat in the 2014 Scottish Cup final to St Johnstone. He teamed up with Levein and Buaben at Hearts in the Championship, leading them to the title in emphatic style. Despite playing such a key role, he was gradually phased out, being loaned to Motherwell in his final season in Scotland. Despite interest from several clubs, Morgaro “Jimmy” Gomis ended up signing for Kelantan, of Malaysia, where he played for two seasons. He was released in controversial fashion at the end of the 2017 season, and is in search of a new club. He was loved and respected at Tannadice and is a player who will always be welcomed back at the club.

LM Craig Conway

The word “legend” is banded around far too easily in recent times, but for the winger Craig Conway, it is truly apt. The young Ayr United winger joined the Tannadice team in 2006 and went on to make 137 appearances over his five years with the club. The winger took a fair bit of stick during his early years at Dundee United, but he stuck in, worked his socks off and endeared himself to the fans over time. Manager Craig Levein moulded Conway into a much better player than the youngster that joined the club, giving him the confidence to trust his ability to beat his man and foray down to the touchline. He was elevated from the status of decent player to club legend after scoring the second and third goal in the Scottish Cup final in 2010. The first saw Conway control a flicked on header from David Goodwillie, in which he pulled the ball away from the defender Alex Keddie, ran into the box and slid it under the arms of Michael McGovern; his second involved him controlled a pass from Jimmy Gomis with his crotch, setting himself up to fired the shot into the bottom left corner, sealing the points for United. He played a further year at Tannadice, deciding to see out his contract rather than extend his stay on Scotland. The team took the trophy back to Dundee the following day, where Conway treated the fans to a wonderful vocal impresion of former and current manager Craig Levein and Peter Houston. After an impressive couple of years he had numerous options south of the border, but it was Welsh side Cardiff City who signed Conway. His time at Cardiff was a frustrating period; he enjoyed a good amount of game time, but missed out on some big events. Cardiff made the League Cup final against Liverpool in his first season, but poor form saw him an unused substitute. He was part of the Cardiff team that won the Championship in 2013, barely featuring before Christmas but playing regularly in the new year.

Despite winning promotion, he was loaned out to Brighton, back down in the Championship, until December. It was evident that he didn’t have a hope of playing for Cardiff in the Premier League, spurring Conway to move permanently. He joined Blackburn Rovers in January 14, where is still plays to this day. He has enjoyed playing with regularity since his transfer to Lancashire, although unfortunately he has suffered relegation during this spell. He has worn the captains armband on multiple occasions for Blackburn. Craig may have left Tannadice Park over six years ago, but after his brace in the cup final in 2010, he will always be thought of fondly by fans of Dundee United.

CF Jon Daly

As is the theme amongst many of these players, Daly was not exactly accepted by the fans during the start of his United career, but was held in the highest regard by the time he left six years on. After spending the early part of his career bouncing around the lower leagues of England with Stockport, Bury, Grimbsy and Hartlepool. In January 2007 he was signed by Craig Levein to lead the line for Dundee United, and racked up 167 appearance from then on. It would have been so much more, if it weren’t for a string of nasty knee and ankle injuries which affected the first couple of years of his Tannadice stint. He was fighting fit in 2009/10 however, where he was a master class up front. He wasn’t a prolific goal scorer, but he was a good old fashioned “big striker”, a proper handful for defences. Daly was peak Daly in the 2010 cup final, forcing McGovern into his weak clearance to set up Goodwillie’s goal, and assisting the assist for Conway’s first. He was handed the captains armband by Peter Houston the following season, given the departure of Webster and retirement of Wilkie, all but cementing his place in the starting XI for the rest of his time at Tannadice. With his increased playing time he increased his scoring rate, finishing his United career with 73 goals for the Arabs. He was getting on in age towards the end of his United career, and new manager Jackie McNamara made it clear that he wasn’t willing to prolong the strikers current contract. Daly joined Rangers in the bottom tier of Scottish football, taking a massive pay rise to join the one year old team, following their liquidation and reform in 2012. Daly played two seasons for Rangers, in League One and the Scottish Championship, scoring 29 goals in this two year stint. He left Rangers in 2015, joining Raith Rovers on a short term deal.

It came out that Hibernian had offered Daly significantly more money to move to Easter Road, but he rejected the offer. He is a man of principle and thought that because he had shaken hands with Raith manager Ray McKinnon, that it would be poor form to renege on the deal. He was lured from Raith a few months later to be a youth team coach at Hearts, in a deal which would see him work under former manager Craig Levein. His side made a national final in his first season in charge. He was even charged with managing the first team on occasions, both when Robbie Neilson resigned in 2016, and when Ian Cathro was sacked in 2017. He is evidently on the right track to senior management and was even linked with a return to Tannadice as manager when Ray McKinnon was sacked earlier this season.

CF David Goodwillie

A wonderful player with a very sketchy personal life. He came through the ranks at Dundee United and slowly worked his way up the pecking order under Craig Levein. It wasn’t until the 2009/10 cup final season that Goodie became a permanent fixture in the first team squad. Not only was Goodwillie a natural finisher, but he was tenacious. He was angry when he played, and never gave opposition defenders a moments peace. Due to spending his life in the Dundee United academy, he cared about the club, something which earned him a lot of time from the fans. He joined Craig Conway in becoming a legend at Tannadice, not only did he score and assist in the final, but he scored the first goal, and what a goal it was. In a World Cup year, the infamous Jabulani football was used in the Scottish Cup. Lionel Messi failed to master the football, as did Wayne Rooney, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. But David Goodwillie’s delicious lob from 30 yards out was one of the greatest bits of control from any player in world football. On top of this magnificent strike, he also headed the ball on to Craig Conway to grab his first goal of the game. He played one more full season with Dundee United, before gaining a move to Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers. Goodwillie played a decent amount in his first season, scoring league goals against Stoke and Everton, but his playing time dried up as Blackburn’s season nosedived, and catastrophic manager Steve Kean panic bought in January. He was edged out at Blackburn and found himself bouncing around the country on loan.

He played one game for Crystal Palace, but was sent home, being deemed “unfit” by professional shit-talker Ian Holloway. He was brought back to Dundee United in 2013/14 on a six month loan, but was used sparingly by Jackie McNamara. He returned to Scotland on a permanent deal in 2014, following his release by Blackburn, and joined Aberdeen. He enjoyed a good spell of time here, but his poor scoring record did not go down well with the Red Army. He spent time at Ross County and Plymouth Argyle, and now plays for Clyde in the lowest tier of Scottish football. He is a talented football, but let poor life choices mar it. Assault and rape claims derailed his career and in just seven years he went from Scottish Cup winner, to Premier League striker, to part time player with Clyde. He undoubtedly spent the best part of his career with Dundee United, and it is with the Terrors that he is synonymous with.

So that concludes the extensive review of my greatest team, Dundee United’s cup winners from 2010. There have been better players to have turned out for the Terrors over the years, better managers, better teams, better individuals, but they will fade in the memory of time. What will never be forgotten are those eleven men who wore the tangerine and black strip on May 15th, 2010, and drew battle with Ross County in the baking sun at Hampden Park. They made the lives of 27,000 men, women and children that afternoon. Seven and a half years later and Dundee United have suffered relegation, chairman turmoil and more anguish and pain than any football fan should suffer, and yet even in these dark times, the warm memory of that day in May will shine bright, and act as a guide light, the pinnacle for where the club would like to climb back to some day.