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TRAYNOR: MAN OF HONOUR THE WINNER; (I mean the guy on the right).

Byline: JIM TRAYNOR

COMETH the hour cometh the man. Dundee's impending demise has given birth to a new voice in Scottish football, and that voice belongs to Jim Duffy.

The past couple of weeks have been dark, miserable and painful for everyone connected with Dundee, a club sinking in a sea of debt.

Players and office staff have been sacked without a penny compensation as administrators strive to bring operating costs down to a level which can at least be managed.

But through the frustration and hurt one man at the centre of this madness is conducting himself with a quiet dignity.

The only thing polished about Duffy is his head, but he is a product of The Barracks, now known as Wyndford Estate near Firhill, and with street-smart kids like Charlie Nicholas as mates he had to be equally sharp to keep up.

There is a toughness about Duffy, although he isn't one of those managers who rush to the phone if someone writes something critical about him or his team. Duffy waits, but he'll have his moment, usually fixing you with a stare that makes you feel cold inside.

There can't be many who have taken the mickey out of him with impunity, but there is nothing bullish about him. Duffy is one of those people who have been forced by circumstances to look closely at themselves and understand their limitations.

He knows what he is and who he is and he knows the value of doing the right things by people, which is why he can't agree with the manner in which 25 staff were dumped without any pay.

He knows that was morally wrong and has trouble getting his head around what happened, even though he chose to tell the players they were being sacked.

He could have stayed in a back room when one by one the players were called to the office and told they were out of work, but that's not his style. Besides, he felt it would be better coming from someone they knew and who understood how they'd be feeling.

Duffy has had his downs as well, but he didn't allow adversity to break him. He emerged from his own difficult times stronger and with a greater awareness of the game's harsh realities as well as a simmering contempt for some of the people who use football as a vehicle to promote themselves.

It was this experience that probably made Duffy roll his eyes to the heavens when Giovanni di Stefano arrived on the scene with his big talk.

Duffy has come across this type before and cringed when he heard di Stefano boast Dundee would take on the Old Firm and become a force in Europe. The manager was also sceptical when he heard Craig Burley and Fabrizio Ravanelli were signing and he was right.

He suspected there was a madness at play and it turns out the players weren't paid in full. They, too, were living on a false economy and, of course, it all came crashing down when debts were called in.

As well as trying to run what's left of the football side, Duffy is working to get those players who were sent packing fixed up because he feels a sense of duty to them, even if no one else at Dens does. He is trying to sort out the confused morality of it all while others are tapping furiously on calculators.

It is actually Duffy's inner strength which has prevented him from walking away and looking for somewhere else to begin again, but even though he believes he can still help this crippledclub and give the fans hope there is only so much one man can take.

Duffy's second stint at Dens has shown him to be a shrewd manager and one who believes in entertaining the customers, although not at all costs. His Dundee side has been fluent, positive and decent to watch and they made it into Europe.

Until the rumours started they looked as though they were heading places. Turns out they've only been going bankrupt, but it shouldn't surprise anyone to see Duffy walk away at some point and into another job.

He is actually one of his club's best assets, he isn't highly paid Duffy receives only about a quarter of thesalary Ivano Bonetti enjoyed and he knows how to operate on short rations. Duffy is the kind of manager just about every club would love to get their hands on and it is only a matter of time before a position becomes vacant.

Partick Thistle, of course, are searching for a new manager after binning Gerry Collins, even though he had not been given nearly enough time to impose his will on the side. But Duffy would be mad to go to Firhill.

He knows he can soldier on at Dens and if he makes what's left of his squad difficult to beat his reputation will be enhanced. A better job will come his way soon enough and it's then he'llhave a decision to make. A decent offer would be tempting, although this time he'd need to be certain his employers were not on the verge of closure. He's a tough guy, but he wouldn't want to relive the last few weeks somewhere else.

That would be too much, even for Duffy, but if the administrator at Dundee, Tom Burton, is as smart as people say he is then he'll know already his manager is someone who shouldn't be shown the door, or even allowed to walk through it of his own free will.

Without Duffy, Dundee may survive, but they might lack an exciting future.

CAPTION(S):

RAV-ING: Jim Duffy was wary about di Stefano's big signings; DENS GEM: Duffy is a big asset at Dens Park
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Words:968
Previous Article:Football: I'M WORTH MY WAIT IN GOAL-D; Ex-Celt Liam gets off mark at last; INVERNESS...............5 BRECHIN CITY...........0.
Next Article:Football: Dunfermline Man by man.


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