I arrived in The Granite City from Dundee late Saturday evening, and what a contrast in the railway stations. Dundee Station along with the waterfront on the Firth of Tay across the road is undergoing a 1 billion pound makeover and the station has almost been gutted. Aberdeen is part of a huge and welcoming restaurants and shopping mall oomplex and not far from the docks and the oil tankers and ferries berths to Orkney and Shetland.
The Dons, along with Celtic, are the only club to have played continuously in the top league for more than 20 years, and the ONLY Scottish club to have won two European titles, the European Cup winners Cup against Real Madrid on 11 May 1983 and the European Super Cup against European Cup holders SV Hamburg in December 1983. At the 1937 Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park between celtic an Aberdeen the attendance of 146,433 is a European record for a club match. Celtic won 2-1. Later this month Aberdeen play Hibernian in this seasons Cup semi-Final, a day after Rangers play Celtic, both at the national stadium.
Sunday morning my friend Craig Brown picked me up from my guest house at 10.00am promptly for the 10 minute drive to PITTODRIE STADIUM their home for over a century. It was the first stadium in Britain to be all seater, but I saw plans for a new modern stadium complex which is waiting for permission from the city council. Craig is a club director and former manager and the national team's most successful and distinguished former manager. I got to meet Joe Harper, the Dons record goalscorer and Jim Leighton former goalkeeper for The Reds. Jim played over 380 times for Aberdeen in two spells, and also for Manchester United and Hibernian plus 91 times for Scotland and was selected for 4 World Cup squads in 82, 86, 90 and 98.
We arrived 2 1/2 hours prior to the 12.30pm kick off against the visiting Rangers from Glasgow. Celtic have run away with their 6th Scottish Premier League title and 26 points ahead of The Dons 2nd and the Gers 3rd, now 9 points behind The Reds with European places at stake. I was so busy I didn't even have time to read the excellent 84 page official programme, edited by Malcom Panton and awarded the top programme prize in the Scottish Premeir League once again.
First a drinks reception with many sponsors in the directors lounge, a visit to the Rangers locker room to leave a 21st birthday card and small gift for Emerson Hyndman, on loan from Bournemouth, then up to the spacious sponsors lounge for a pre match meal and some presentations. Emerson's dad Tony age 12 played here in the Aberdeen Youth Cup in 1985 and later for USA against Scotland in a youth international. I was seated next to Craig at the WEATHERFORD table, all oil tycoons at this large oil and gas service provider in 100 countries. Aberdeen is Britain's oil capital.
There was a very tense atmosphere with a two thousand Rangers fans in one section, including, I was told, 100 Gers fans from HSV Hamburg waving their blue,white and black flags. 19,800 was not quite a sell out, maybe 1,000 short of capacity, which the local media picked up on. The Dons have an impressive home record and are coached by Derek McInnes while the visitors have a new boss Pedro Caixinha. A week before The Dons had won away at Dens Park against Dundee FC 7-0.
Rangers took control in the first half but the home team were dominant after the break...until the 79th minute...then it all went wrong. Three quick late goals and it finished 0-3 with Reds fans streaming out early. I had sat next to Bob Brown, Craig's brother, a local retired Church of Scotland minister. He told me of his 'career' in the local church league, where swearing was forbidden...most of the time.
Next up is an away match at St. Johnstone in Perth this Easter Saturday then on Sunday 22nd in Glasgow against Hibernian, and one step away from a Cup Final.