Sep 162015

Aberdeen survived some scares to win against quite a good Hamilton side, says Andrew Watson.

pittodrieThe start was a nervy one, with both sides feeling their way into the game.

Aberdeen were the first to suss their opposition out, but struggled initially.

Some smart play was hampered by too many passes being short of their target.

It was Graeme Shinnie that really kicked off things, when he instigated a second penalty in two games.

Once again, it was Adam Rooney who stepped up. If he could score that League Cup securing goal a couple seasons back, it could more or less be said he’d score this one. He did, coolly slotting it away.

1-0 after 23 minutes!

The Dons came out a completely different team in the second half, and seemed very timid. The Accies were beginning to take a foothold of the game, and there were moments they proved they definitely deserved a point from the game.

Josh Parker came on the pitch to replace Jonny Hayes 72 minutes into proceedings. A minute later, Ryan McLaughlin came off for Shaleum Logan.

McInnes made his final substitute at 82 minutes, with Peter Pawlett coming on for Kenny McLean.

Parker probably had the best chance of the game towards the end, coming more or less one on one with the keeper.

The Red Army were probably expecting him to lob the keeper, but he elected instead to control the ball and drive it low. It went wide.

Ashton Taylor was also taken off near the end. Thankfully he appeared to walk off the pitch without a limp, so hopefully the injury is minor and that he can play at Tynecastle.

It could be a tough one, away from home, so as strong a squad as possible would be ideal.

Final score:  1-0.

Sep 132015

Aberdeen were a goal and man down but fought admirably to seal victory, recounts Voice reporter Andrew Watson.

merkalndpic2The build up to the game was tense and palpable.

One song they pumped out through the tannoy system seemed particularly apt:

“When two tribes go to war/
A point is all you can score
When two tribes go to war/
A point is all you can score”

– Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes

Given the eventual outcome of the game the words seem a tad ironic. Hope for a draw at best? No chance!

Just before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for late Aberdeen winger Graham Leggat, who was integral to the side that won the league championship for the first time ever in the 1954-55 season.

Both sets of players wore black armbands as a mark of respect. Though a celebration of his life, it was somewhat sombre and touching that a lone red balloon bobbed along the pitch during this.

In retrospect isn’t it further irony that a man that helped his club to a domestic milestone is followed by a team that, after this game, has made its best start since the league winning exploits of the 1984-85 season?

You wouldn’t have thought that such a feat was even possible when the game got going.

They started dreadfully and almost conceded an early goal. Andrew Considine caused confusion in the opening minutes and nearly gifted Celtic with a poor pass back.

Things proceeded in this manner for a fair chunk of the first half. Miskicks of the ball, and sometimes missing the ball completely made for frustrating viewing.  Kenny McLean comes to mind.

If it wasn’t for their endeavour, despite some terrible play, they’d have been dead and buried even before half time was called.

However, it was 35 minutes into the game that brought the first major flashpoint. Considine brought down Leigh Griffiths in the box.

0-1 Celtic (Griffiths) 35 minutes into the game, converting their penalty.

Come the second half the dynamics of game changed slightly. Graeme Shinnie was fouled as the ball was about to roll out of play.

Eleven minutes into the second half, and Adam Rooney responded with the second penalty of the game.


The fightback then seemed off the cards for Aberdeen, when Jonny Hayes was sent off after 72 minutes. He’d been a constant menace and nuisance to the Hoops, and gave much attacking impetus to the home side.

It’s gathered that this was for a sliding challenge he made, in that though one foot was grounded on the turf, the other was raised and therefore dangerous.

However, if both feet were at ground level would that not have been a two footed tackle?

Anyway, Derek McInnes reshuffled his pack eight minutes later, with new boy Josh Parker replacing Rooney.

The Dons somehow recovered after 86 minutes when defender Paul Quinn sent the Red Army absolutely bananas. Niall McGinn delivered that important ball into the box, and all Quinn had to do was merely guide it over the line.  That he did.

2-1 Aberdeen!

Shaleum Logan, having still been a target for Celtic fans after the Tonev debacle, egged on his support in the South Stand; with his frustration turning to jubilation. They lapped it up, loving his passion as he ran down the touchline in celebration.

A minute later McGinn was taken off, in favour of Willo Flood.

Griffiths could’ve dashed the hopes of the Dandies. He’d been a scourge, but not this time.

A more astute and ruthless finish was needed to exploit defensive errors late in the game, though to be fair this was struck quite near the byline and at a tricky angle. It was mopped up well before crossing goal.

With three minutes added on, the Pittodrie faithful whistled and collectively sounded akin to an air raid siren or not too dissimilar from our emergency services racing down Union Street.

It’s a strange result, really, because they’d maybe not clinch victory playing as they did in the first half against some of the league’s other sides. Hearts, perhaps.  Their never say die attitude will stand them in good stead, though.

Final score:  2-1.

May 022013

By David Innes.

As every Dons fan knows, 11 May this year will be the thirtieth anniversary of Aberdeen’s historic, memorable and emotional capture of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup in Gothenburg. I think my jacket may be dry now after three decades in the airing cupboard.

It wis an affa nicht o rain. And beer. Even at Swedish prices.

We’re the fans who celebrate success, you see. There are others who mark the jubilee of losing, yes losing, a European final by arranging a dinner. Then again, we’ve never lost a European final.

We’re the last Scottish club to win a European trophy and are the only Scottish club to have a 100% record in winning European finals.

It was Real Madrid who we cuffed too – European fitba royalty, Franco’s team, dumped on its Iberian arse by a team of swaggering Scots loons who played with pride and passion, fuelled by oatcakes and Aitken’s rowies.

Proper mannies’ fitba, if you will.

Never desist from making that known to our critics and foes. It’s your duty. Go to it.

We reviewed Richard Gordon’s marvellous commemorative Glory In Gothenburg when it was published at the end of last year. Some lucky readers won copies in a Voice competition at the time.

Now, courtesy of Black and White Publishing, we have a further two copies, this time of the paperback edition, to give away. We’ll set the prize question during the week leading up to the anniversary celebrations, so look out for it.

Those who can’t wait that long and who are pessimistic about their chances of landing one of our giveaways, can get their hands on a signed copy however. Author Richard Gordon and The Best Penalty Box Defender In The World, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, the blessed skipper and sweeper Willie Miller, the man who held the trophy aloft in cool, gallus trademark one-handed fashion as the bedlam ensued, will be signing copies of the book at Waterstones, Union Bridge, Aberdeen on Thursday 9 May at 1830.

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Nov 092012

Who cares if the envious and small-minded accuse Aberdeen fans of ‘living in the 1980s’? Not Richard Gordon, for whom his book Glory In Gothenburg is a labour of love, nor Voice reviewer David Innes, a terrace veteran of the great 70s and 80s campaigns.

Who better, we opined when covering this book’s launch, to document Aberdeen’s greatest twin achievements than self-confessed Dons fanatic, yet fair-minded broadcaster Richard Gordon?
His own view is that whilst the story of triumph is well-known, there are many behind the scenes tales to be told, to paint an even more vibrant tapestry of what was the zenith of the Dons’ sometimes not-too-glorious history.

The author has succeeded in this objective and Glory In Gothenburg is a fabulous read where the passion drips from the pages.

On more than one occasion I had to swallow something hard and jagged as the emotions of the two year period covered by the book welled up in me thirty years on. Fitba, eh?

What makes it even more special though are the stories never heard before as told by the players.

Gordon’s dogged research has seen him hunt down everyone involved and get the inside line on what were the defining moments of his heroes’ careers.

Cleverly, each of the players quoted are linked to a particular match on the memorable run from Fir Park to the parade, as my late friend Alan said at the time, of Gunther Netzer’s P45 around the track at Pittodrie as the Super Cup plaque confirmed that the Reds were undisputedly the best club in Europe.

Among the surprises is Gordon Strachan’s claim that he didn’t really take in much of the detail and his admission that after watching the Gothenburg final on ESPN relatively recently, he phoned Alex McLeish to declare excitedly, ‘We weren’t a bad team, were we?’

Eric Black weighs in with a comment that beautifully encapsulates the confidence of youth, ‘I had nothing to compare it with obviously, I just thought that was how it was – you turned up, played a game, got shouted at a bit and won a trophy every year!’

There are moving passages about, for example, John McMaster, whose injury problems limited what should have been a sparkling career and which should have seen him capped ahead of others not quite so outrageously-gifted. Stuart Kennedy, by dint of not playing in the Ullevi Stadium, does not merit his own chapter, but he is showered with affection by his team mates throughout Glory In Gothenburg.

They knew, even better than we devotees did, that this was an athlete who contributed incalculably to results and the unique team spirit of that squad.

Even the formidable and fearsome Fergie is shown to have a soft side. Stuart Kennedy, on the bench for the ECWC Final reveals, ‘…at one stage he sent me out to warm up. When I asked why he’d bothered to send me out, he told me, ‘I gave you a run out in front of the fans and let them sing your name’ and I really appreciated that’.

Gordon also tells of his sorrow at losing his friend Phil Goodbrand, who at only 22, died during the final in Gothenburg and how annual celebrations on 11 May are always tempered by the memory of this inexplicable loss.

There have been attempts before to capture the effervescent, ebullient spirit of those days when we swaggered across Europe contemptuously dismissing those who had the temerity to think they could compete with us, but it has taken a highly-articulate and unashamed fan who makes his living from words, to put together this, the best and most heartfelt account of a time we are unlikely ever to experience again.

  • Note: the publisher has kindly offered three copies to give away as prizes in a reader competition that Voice will arrange in the next week or two. Thanks to Paul at Black & White Publishing. 

Glory In Gothenburg. Richard Gordon. Black & White Publishing. 276 pages £14.99
ISBN 978 1 84502 470 3

Oct 262012

Glory In Gothenburg was launched at Pittodrie on Tuesday 23 October, in the company of Gothenburg legends Willie Miller and Doug Rougvie. David Innes of Voice had a few words with the author. Alan Jamieson took the pictures.

Richard Gordon has always worn his heart on his sleeve when it comes to football.
Always the reasonable and unflappable professional on air, he makes no excuses for being an Aberdeen fan and does not let that cloud his judgement, despite the barbed comments of several of his fellow broadcasters whose own claims of club allegiance do not always ring true.

So, who better to write the book commemorating the imminent 30th anniversary of the night that the Dons looked down on the rest of Europe as if the Broad Hill was loftier than the Matterhorn, than Richard Gordon?

Gordon told Voice,

“I love the fact that we can look back now and say that we won a European trophy, and we beat Real Madrid. That’s much better than saying we beat Waterschei or Austria Vienna. That was as good a 120 minutes as I’ve seen from any Scottish side. We hammered  Real Madrid 2-1 after extra time. 

“They’re a huge name again now; they’ve always been a huge name, and we beat them. They’d have gone into that game fully aware of what Aberdeen had to offer because of what we’d done in Europe already that season and they clearly thought they were still going to win. Whether or not they were over-confident, I don’t know, but if they were, within five minutes it was knocked out of them.

“I know some people say, “Ach, you’re always looking to the past,” but, I’m sorry, the past is hugely important to me as a football fan. I don’t know when the team I support is next going to win a cup. I’m hoping I’ll see this in the not too distant future, but I love looking back on the trophies we did win. That’s what football fans do.”

The launch was all about the club’s unparalleled European pedigree and the book spans the period from John Hewitt’s record-breaking goal at Fir Park which set Aberdeen on the way to the 1982 Scottish Cup win through to their coronation as 1983’s best European side (go on, read that again) with the capture of the Super Cup in December that year.

Yet, both Gordon and Miller took time to share their excitement at the prospects for the current squad of Reds, a blend they both agreed, of youthful enthusiasm and energy and wily, street-wise experience.

We have a copy of Glory In Gothenburg for review and that will appear soon.

Glory In Gothenburg by Richard Gordon is published by Black and White Publishing, is available now and costs £14.99.

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Nov 102011

Books really are the gifts that keep on giving. Have you ever tried turning down the corner of your Kindle to mark where you left off reading? With an eye on the calendar and mindful that Voice readers should be sending letters up the lum shortly, David Innes performs a labour of love in reviewing a seasonal offering from a fitba hero for whom every month was Movember.

Willie Miller is indisputably the greatest-ever Don. The image of him, bristling of moustache, jet black hair matted with Scandinavian May rain, nonchalantly holding aloft in trade mark single-handed triumph the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, is etched indelibly on every Dons fan’s retina.

It’s will be no surprise to learn that this iconic image dominates the front cover of Dream Team, in which Miller evaluates Dons with whom he played, stars who he managed whilst also trawling the Pittodrie archives to give brief pen pictures of legends of yesteryear as he chooses his best side and, unusually, backroom staff.

When football fans, always much more knowledgeable, of course, than those qualified and paid to make selection decisions, cannot even agree who should be in their team this week, selecting an all-time XI from their club’s entire history is guaranteed to cause arguments.

No doubt  Miller’s volume will engender more disputes than it will settle. Such debate is a huge part of football’s attraction to those addicted to it and happy in the knowledge that there is no known cure for this affliction.

Without giving too much away in case a Dream Team-shaped parcel finds its way under your festive tree next month, Miller rules himself out and selects a side in 4-3-3 formation, with seven substitutes. Unsurprisingly, most are his own contemporaries, but given that he played at the top level for 16 years, that gives him a wide constituency from which to choose.

All very interesting, but it is his – or perhaps co-author Robertson’s – research into Wasps and Reds icons of the 70 years of club history before Willie’s own career began that fascinates most. Although previous volumes have covered this before, an appreciation of Dons giants written from a player’s perspective gives occasional new insights to familiar and less-familiar names.

The fact that the terms “we” and “us” are used, even when discussing the author’s distant club forebears, is quite endearing.

What is disappointing is the editing. Occasional errors will slip through, but facts are easily checked. If the text is to be believed, the peerless Eric Black scored on his debut against Dundee United in another dimension, since there is no 31 September on any earthly calendar known to me.

The writing could frequently be sharpened, tightened up and sprinkled with some editorial pixie dust, but football books are rarely contenders for literary awards.

If you love the Dons, you’ll find Dream Team is of considerable interest and worth reading. If you don’t, I want to know why.

Willie Miller’s Aberdeen Dream Team
Willie Miller with Rob Robertson
Black and White Publishing. 236 pp. £10.99

Jul 212011

With the SPL’s big kick-off looming, what kind of shape are Aberdeen in, compared to the other top six challengers?  Philip Sim takes a hard look at how next season is shaping up.

Aberdeen, Hearts, Dundee United, Hibs and Motherwell are the traditional and some might say obvious candidates to join Rangers and Celtic in the top six by next May.

Kilmarnock were a surprise inclusion last season, but have lost their manager and star player over the summer and have recruited relatively little proven quality, save perhaps Gary Harkins, who is yet to prove himself at SPL level.

Hearts have made some good signings and generally seem to have strengthened across the board, despite their ongoing off-the-field difficulties. Many of their signings are more squad players than stars, but they have retained the core of last year’s team, and if they can hang on to the likes of Rudi Skacel and Marian Kello then realistically third place is theirs to throw away.

Dundee United meanwhile has lost an entire midfield in Buaben, Gomis, Conway and Robertson, as well as defensive cover in Darren Dods. Their only quality recruitment has been Willo Flood – how much of the budget has he taken up? – and the less said about Hibs reject John Rankin the better. They have young players coming through, but they desperately need to make some signings before the window ‘slams shut’ or their top six position is far from assured.

Hibs have spent most of the summer in a weird state of limbo, with manager Colin Calderwood openly pondering a move back to Nottingham Forest. They have made two very good signings in Ivan Sproule and Garry O’Conner, both proven players who know the club well. However they have lost eleven players over the summer, including Liam Miller, Derek Riordan and Colin Nish, so their squad is pretty thin on the ground. Their traditionally excellent conveyor belt of youth talent can’t prop up the team forever, but how many quality players are going to be attracted to a club whose manager might jump ship to be an assistant in the Championship?

Motherwell is in a similar position to Dundee United in that they haven’t recruited nearly enough players. They have made one good signing in Michael Higdon, but he will act as a direct replacement for Hearts-bound John Sutton.  They’re currently sitting at eight out and just two in. Retaining Steven Jennings is a plus, but it would be very difficult to claim the Steelmen have strengthened.

So now to the Dandy Dons…how does their summer match up? At first glance, the picture appears slightly gloomy – it seems like eight out and five in. Nine out really, with Jamie Langfield incapacitated for the foreseeable future. However on closer inspection, Craig Brown has paid attention to where Aberdeen were found lacking last season and has strengthened the core of the team.

This does not look like a team which will be over-run in midfield or indeed a team which will give up cricket scores at Celtic Park

The starting back four this term could be completely different to that which was bested so regularly last term. The team has two players with experience of playing full-back in Foster and Chris Clark, and two players with strength, presence and experience at centre-half in Youl Mawene and Kari Arnason.

The addition of Arnason and Osbourne will bring a bit of steel to the team, a bit of fight that was crucially missing last season.

Although this remains in the realm of speculation, this does not look like a team which will be over-run in midfield, or indeed a team which will give up cricket scores at Celtic Park.  There are also a number of very adaptable players in the squad, including Clark, Osbourne, Foster and Arnason, who can play both defence and midfield, which will come in handy when the team suffers its traditional mid-season injury crisis.

The only thing the Dons are missing right now is a replacement for Sone Aluko and Chris Maguire, a bit of creativity and flair going forward. A signing needs to be made here, as the entire burden cannot be placed on youngsters like Peter Pawlett, Fraser Fyvie and Nicky Low.

Craig Brown has publicly made a flair striker his priority, and if he secures this – probably through a loan from  England – then Aberdeen will be in excellent shape to take the fight to the other top six challengers for those precious European qualification spots.