Aberdeen Change

Aberdeen Sean Graham


Dandy Dons Dazzle Hibs

I was thinking in the run up to tomorrow’s Scottish League Cup final between Aberdeen and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Celtic Park, I could share with you all my first experience of going to watch Aberdeen win the Skol League Cup trophy back in the 1985/86 season, Alex Ferguson’s final season with the Dons and a season which saw him bow out of Pittodrie with a Cup Double before heading to Manchester United to continue on the trophy trail at Old Trafford.

On route to the final back in 85, the Dons did not concede a goal all the way through the competition beating Ayr United, St.Johnstone, Hearts and Dundee United before the took on Hibernian at Hampden.

At that time, much the same as tomorrow, the Dons went into the match as heavy favourites to win the Cup; such was the quality they had throughout their side.

Strangely enough, up until this match, this was the one trophy that had eluded Alex Ferguson in his time at Aberdeen and he wanted to put that record straight.

I can remember my Mum getting the tickets for my uncle Tommy and I and I was quite excited at the thought of seeing Aberdeen at Hampden again, this would be my first League Cup final and I was hoping that the outcome would be much the same as my first Scottish Cup final when the Dons beat Rangers 4-1 after extra-time to lift the trophy.

Cup Final day always gives me a thrill, I am sure I have said this before but the morning of the match

I am almost as nervous as the players who are actually playing the game itself and it’s a thrill which I hope never leaves me.

I think I was ready hours before the game, just counting down the minutes till we left for Hampden

And took our seats in the main stand, we had a great view and the atmosphere and colour inside the stadium was a joy to behold, Green and White from the Hibernian fans and Red and White from the Aberdeen fans, Hampden was just a mass of colour and it was beautiful to see.

As kick-off approached, I said a wee prayer that the Dons would win that day and the good lord above smiled down on me as the Dons put on a master class of a performance in one of the most one sided finals seen in years .

Aberdeen did not mess about that day and really went to town from the first whistle and went ahead after great play from Frank McDougall and John Hewitt.

McDougall had chased a long through ball and found Hewitt who crossed to the back post where Eric Black headed past Alan Rough in the Hibernian goal to give the Dons the perfect start.

This gave Alex Ferguson’s men the lift they needed and they would soon be 2-0 in front as that man Hewitt crossed to find the head of Billy Stark to put the Dons on easy street and they could not have wished for a better start to a Cup Final than this.

In all honesty, Hibernian tried all they could but they could not find any way past a very strong Aberdeen side and it was no surprise that the Dons increased their lead in the second half when good play by McDougall and Simpson gave Aberdeen the goal that would seal the match.

A lovely neat interchange of passes lead to McDougall finding Simpson was a neat back-heel and Simmy powers through the Hibernian defence to slide a ball to Eric Black for his second and Aberdeen’s third goal to seal the match and give Alex Ferguson his first League Cup as Aberdeen manager.

The job was done; Alex Ferguson stood smiling proudly as his players lifted the cup or as Willie Miller lifted two cups I should say, the Skol Cup and the League Cup, as the Red Army went wild with delight and I went home a happy wee boy.

It was strange to think that the crowd that day was 40,061 inside Hampden but tomorrow, Aberdeen are bringing down 40,000 supporters alone to Celtic Park!

It just goes to show you what success can do for a club like Aberdeen and the improvement under Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty this season has been incredible but so far the job is only half done, they must complete the job tomorrow and lay the ghosts of 95, the last time any Aberdeen team won a trophy, that is quite amazing when you think of some of the other sides who have gone on to win both the Scottish and League Cups.

I caught up with one of the Dons players who played in that win in 1985, defender Brian Mitchell and he told me what it meant to him to win that day.

“It was a great occasion playing at Hampden and to win a medal. It was a relatively easy win 3-0 and the whole day was very special including the celebrations. Just wish there was the TV coverage there is now so would have more graphic memories!”

“I think every boy dreams of playing at Hampden in a cup final so to realise
this was probably my own personal highlight of my Aberdeen career.”

“We took the bus back to Aberdeen and went to the Marcliffe hotel for a
dance. A lot of the staff where there and wives/girlfriends came back on the
bus with us so it was a great night. I remember Mark McGhee having this big
cigar in his mouth at the hotel and we were all elated that evening!”

The one bit of advice I would say to those Aberdeen players who take to the field is

Don't let the day pass you by as you may never experience it again! Ensure
you don't leave anything out on the pitch but try to treat it like any
other game. There will be a lot of emotional build up to the game that can
affect you so try and not let the occasion take over.

Another Don who played his role in winning the Cup for Aberdeen that day was Frank McDougall. He knows what tomorrow means to the fans who have had to suffer down the years.

“Aberdeen fans don’t want a lot, maybe an appearance in a Cup Final and then they may have a chance of some success.

They have had semi-final heartaches over the last few years but they just need to go that step further and believe in themselves, the supporters deserve it.

Look at the numbers they take down to Hampden when they get to a semi-final and the 40,000 going tomorrow and look at the number of clubs who have won one of the cups in the years gone by, it is just a shame the Dons fans haven’t seen their side do that.”

Scotland Under 21 boss Billy Stark scored in both the Dons Cup final wins that season

“I think you are really euphoric about that and you feel great and you look back now and you think that you managed to score in the two domestic cup finals in the same season and it was a kind of landmark and you take a bit of pride in it because not that many people do that but it’s a game and part of my job is to try and get the balls forward and to score and I was lucky enough to do it in cup finals and I feel so fortunate to be given that opportunity.”

Duncan Shearer was one of the scorers when the Dons beat Dundee in 1995and he is part of the Inverness staff this time round the last time the club won a trophy and he remembers it well.

“That was excellent, I remember the day before as we trained on a park and I wasn’t supposed to be playing as it was Billy and Scott that had possession of the two places up front but Tommy Craig had come out and walked past me during the training session and said Boothy is out for tomorrow, you’ll be in and I said, oh that is a shame.
My thought process at the time was I was 31/32 and this could be one of my last chances to get a winners medal. I was obviously sad for Scott but delighted for both myself and Billy and as it was both Billy and I managed to get the goals in the final.”

“We went back to the hotel and celebrated there and then we went back to Pittodrie in the morning and went on the open top bus and went through the town, I was thinking this is the League Cup and this has got its own importance but there was still thousands of Aberdeen fans round the streets and it was nice to do it but I can just imagine what these Gothenburg boys went through, albeit it was a scale ten times the size of what we were going through at the time, in terms of the open bus but for us the League Cup was marvellous for everybody joining in and going down Union Street.”

Another scorer that day was Billy Dodds

It wasn’t a great game but it was great for us to get the first trophy back to Aberdeen since 1990 when the club won the cup double.

It was just a great cup run and we had played well in these matches on the road to the final and everyone really enjoyed the day.

At the end of the day, that’s all the Aberdeen fans want now is some cup success, they know that they are not going to win the league, so winning a cup gives the fans something to cheer about and I am just happy that I played in an Aberdeen side that was able to do that.

Paul Mason scored a double for the Dons in their 2-1 win over Rangers in the 1989/90 season when the Dons won the Cup Double but they felt they owed Rangers one after losing to Rangers 3-2 the previous year.

I was in the squad but never got picked but obviously went through the same emotions as the lads watching us lose 3-2 and Davie Dodds scored 2 goals ,that was the second time we had been beaten by Rangers in the League Cup final and then the following year as you say getting them again in the final and this time winning 2-1 we felt we owed them one and it was great for the guys who had played and lost two previous two finals, guys like Willie Miller, Alex McLeish , Jim Bett it was great for them to finally say that we beat them and for myself scoring the two goals it was a day I'll never forget.

They did a dodgy penalty but we did win, it could have been worse but we came back and won the cup and it was a great day for everyone involved with the club, the players and the fans, it was a really memorable day.

It was great but I think at the time it was a dream to score two goals at Hampden to win the cup, it is what dreams are made of and I had 200 fans up from Liverpool, my friends and family it was a great day.

When you look back at the game, I have watched it 4 or 5 times over the years and you see how many great saves that Theo had he kept us in the game, it could have easily went the other way some of those saves were world class there was one where he dived to his right to make a save at point blank range and he made five or six top class saves.

Another hero who was part of the fantastic double season was the man who scored the winning penalty against Celtic in the Scottish Cup, was big Brian Irvine.

“When we finally got the victory against Rangers in the League Cup final that was brilliant! After losing the previous two Cup Finals, one on penalties and one in extra-time, you get to the stage where we are thinking, are we going to be second all the time to them?

But it was a great feeling that day! In a different way from the Scottish Cup final later that season but you forget these two Cup Finals that we had against the Old Firm that year and to win and come out on top it was a remarkable achievement to beat Rangers and Celtic to win the League Cup and Scottish Cup, I think right at this precise moment if Aberdeen were to do this just now, the fans would go mad as they would be thinking, hats happening here now? It would be incredible!”

“It was a schoolboy dream and to hit the winning penalty for your boyhood team that you supported, that was the team I supported was Aberdeen, in a Scottish Cup final at Hampden and at the Aberdeen end to win the shoot-out, it really couldn’t get any better than that and all you can do is do it again and I have been very fortunate to be able to do that. I had just happened to be in the right place at the right time, I thought it was going to be way before my time before it was decided but as you can see by the scores I think I hit about the 20th penalty it was so exciting and the fact it was in front of the Aberdeen end made it even better”

The last words go to a man who has not stepped inside Celtic Park since scoring two goals there in a 2-0 win and then being carried off in a stretcher, my big pal Walker McCall.

“It has been incredible in Aberdeen this past week, the whole city is buzzing but you know that anything can happen in a Cup Final but hopefully the Red Army will have something to celebrate at last, it’s long overdue!”


Sean Graham

Follow on Twitter @FeaturesSean

"I am just a guy who has over 40 years of memories of watching various clubs and matches since my Dad took me round the grounds in Glasgow each week before we went to meet my Mum after work and we always went to the Berni Inn where I had scampi and chips !


From watching Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Maryhill juniors and Scotland as well as watching Everton and Manchester United, I have plenty of memories to share for fans to hopefully enjoy and remember."




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