Having claimed their first, and so far only, Scottish Premier Division title in 1983, Dundee United celebrated with the launch of a first new kit in six seasons.
This was a period of great democracy at the top in Scotland. Aberdeen – themsleves clad in some fine adidas kits – challenged the traditional Old Firm dominance, winning three titles in six years and finishing as runners-up in two of the other three. Dundee United put themselves in the mix with that 1983 win while Hearts came agonisingly close to winning the double in 1986.
Having had the classic adidas wing-collar style since 1977, the Tangerines’ new shirt had a v-neck as well as a subtle double-horizontal pinstripe fabric pattern.
The text ‘Scottish Premier League Champions 1983’ was below the crest, which had appeared on club literature since the 1950s but was on the club’s shirt for the first time, replacing the ‘DUFC’ monogram.In the European Cup, wins over Hamrun Spartans of Malta, Belgium’s Standard Liège and Rapid Vienna of Austria brought Jim McLean’s side to the semi-finals, where they faced Roma.
Davie Dodds and Derek Stark scored in a 2-0 first-leg win at Tannadice, but Roma turned things around with a 3-0 triumph at Stadio Olimpico a fortnight late.
At the time, Dundee United felt that the performance of referee Michel Vautrot was questionable, especially in terms of awarding the penalty which proved to be the winner, and in 2018 Roma director Riccardo Viola confirmed that they had paid Vautrot £50,000.
In that game, Dundee United were in their change kit, which followed the same design as the home but in all-white with black trim.
For 1984-85, black shorts were favoured with the change shirt (left). Had the white jersey featured some tangerine trim, the home set could have been used but instead these were white-striped versions.
Playing in the Uefa Cup in 1984-85 after the first of four straight third-placed finishes, Dundee United exited the competition after a 5-4 aggregate defeat to Manchester United.
In addition, the club lost out in the finals of both the the Skol (league) Cup and the Scottish Cup, to Rangers and Celtic respectively. The crest had commemorative embroidery below it for each game.
In addition, for the Scottish Cup final, Dundee United sported a sponsor’s logo for the first time, that of supermarket chain VG. It would come to greater prominence on the new kit launched in the summer of 1985, which would be worn as the Tangerines reached the Uefa Cup final of 1987.