Dec 7 2009 By John Traynor
THE Christmas turkey's not in the oven yetand already it's looking likely the team that finishes directly aboveDundee will win the First Division title.
Anyone at Firhill on Saturday couldn't seriously disagree with that.
Jocky Scott's team didn't play particularlywell, in fact they were outplayed by Ian McCall's Partick Thistle forthe entire first half but still collected all the points and that's thesign of champions in waiting.
Goals from Colin McMenamin in 44 minutes andformer Thistle player Gary Harkins two minutes after the restart hurtthe home side and basically they couldn't get over the pain.
Fact is, the Tayside outfit created a sparsenumber of chances but cashed in on two of them while Thistle carved outmuch more opportunities and failed to stretch Rab Douglas' net.
Indeed, had the Jags gone in at the breakwith three goals to their credit it would not have been unjust butsadly for them the finishing of players like Steve Lovell, StephenMcKeown and Mark Corcoran left much to be desired.
But don't take anything away from Dundee, acompetent, well-organised side, and anyone who says they have boughttheir way to the top of the table courtesy of chairman Calum Melville'scheque book is missing the point.
Only recently Ross County defender AlexKeddie suggested as much and others are doing the same but the s150,000Dee splashed out on Harkins and the s125,000 they spent on LeighGriffiths was nothing other than a sound piece of business.
Sure, the economic climate isn't healthy andmoney is tight but if you've got the cash then why not spend it?Anyhow, the fee paid for Harkins amounts to roughly what Frank Lampardearns each week. All things are relative of course but it's justanother reminder of the financial gulf between Scottish and Englishfootball.
McMenamin didn't want to talk about the folding stuff or Keddie's take on the whole affair.
But he couldn't resist saying: "In Scottish football you get criticised for spending money but if you've got it, spend it.
"The truth is, as a squad we work hard andnobody works harder than the new guys and the boss has us wellorganised, that's why we're top of the league."
Indeed it is, and with a five-pointadvantage over second-placed Queen of the South the rest of the leaguehad better pull their socks up. Otherwise Dundee will put astranglehold on the title, making a mockery of the notion the FirstDivision is the most competitive in our game.
Meanwhile, Thistle have every reason to ruethe presence of one of their old boys Harkins. Apart from scoring thatkiller goal he had a hand in most of the good things Dundee did afterthe break. And they certainly wont be liking the name of McMenamin whohas netted 14 times in 12 games against them.
He said: "I love playing them. Whatever itis, I seem to always score against Thistle. In fact my first goal atsenior level was against them. For obvious reasons they don't like mebut I always look forward to turning out against them."
That wasn't said with any malice it wasmerely matter of fact, but meantime every other team in the division,Thistle included, must find a way of punishing Dundee or else it looksodds-on to be a onehorse race.