Remembering the time Dean Windass got three red cards in one game
According to Tony Soprano, ‘remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation. The constant need to dwell on the past and live in yesterday’s world instead of moving forward, while comforting, can easily become a crutch.
The riposte? Note the warm feeling in your body when you recall the three red cards given to Dean Windass during one game in November 1997.
Windass was always one of football’s relatable figures. With a physique that can most kindly be described as bulky, the Hull-born striker became a cult hero for a host of northern clubs during a career that spanned 22 years.
After impressing for his hometown club, Windass moved north of the border to Aberdeen in 1995 during an era when Scotland’s top flight was home to the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup and Pierre van Hooijdonk.
Windass took to Scottish football like a duck to water, scoring 25 goals in his first two seasons to cement his popularity among the club’s supporters.
He was also a player who got into frequent trouble with authorities and was a notable presence throughout the city’s night-time establishments. It should come as no surprise that the big man was born on April Fool’s Day.
By the time Aberdeen travelled to Dundee United in November 1997, the Dons manager Roy Aitken was under severe pressure. Consequently, his players may have entered the game with their ears ringing from an animated and motivational team talk.
It seemed as if Windass took any Churchillian language literally. Fresh from his pre-match meal of raw meat, the striker picked up a booking within the first minute of the game.
His afternoon would last only 20 minutes longer. In what had fast become his trademark, Windass launched into another tackle that redefined the word ‘industrial’. With the Dundee United player having been scythed successfully to the floor, referee Stuart Dougal had no choice but to send Windass from the field.
Before any fans in attendance could construct a thought containing the words ‘toys’ and ‘prams’, Windass let rip a volley of abuse at the poor match official. This being Scotland, it was highly likely Windass was told to go and take his face for a shite in response. Nevertheless, he picked up his second red card.
Not content with his amateur dramatics performance, Windass eyed a unique hat-trick. Marching from the field, he proceeded to rip the corner flag out of the turf and fling it to the ground. Departing to the sound of chortles from the opposition fans, Windass earned a place in Scottish football history.
His actions earned him 22 penalty points (one for each minute he had spent on the pitch), a six-match ban and a fine of two weeks’ wages. Aberdeen couldn’t even blame their eventual 5-0 defeat on Windass’s behaviour, as they were already 3-0 down.
Manager Aitken was sacked afterwards, to be replaced temporarily by Keith Burkinshaw. Speaking in the week after the game, the ex-Tottenham manager told reporters: “It was imperative that players know not to lose their discipline, as Dean has found to his cost.”
Perhaps the greatest example of heroic understatement ever recorded by the print media.