Aberdeen FC

It may be 30 years since Aberdeen last won the title but domestic silverware, European runs and table-top positions have all been achieved of late.

Winners of two European trophies in 1983, Aberdeen under Sir Alex Ferguson also gained four Scottish Cups and three championships, the last in 1985.

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Alex Ferguson Suite/Ian Thomson

Eighty years earlier, the Dons had been elected to the top flight. Formed by a merger of three local clubs in 1903, Aberdeen FC only began to make waves under manager Dave Halliday either side of World War II.

The former Sunderland striker brought in inside-forwards George Hamilton and Harry Yorston to make three Scottish Cup finals, winning one in 1947. In 1955, Aberdeen won their first league title, with goals from Paddy Buckley and later Fulham star Graham Leggat.

Not invited to the inaugural European Cup, Aberdeen had to wait until 1967 for a first European appearance. Another came after the Scottish Cup win of 1970, the prolific Joe Harper also starring in the League Cup final win of 1976. In his two stints at Pittodrie, Harper scored 199 goals in 300 games, a club record.

Frequently qualifying for Europe but making little headway, the Dons hired Alex Ferguson as manager in 1978.

Despite a shaky start, Ferguson turned things around by winning the league in 1980. With stalwart Bobby Clark in goal, Stuart Kennedy, Alex McLeish and Willie Miller at the back, Gordon Strachan in midfield, and Steve Archibald and Mark McGhee up front, Aberdeen broke the Old Firm’s 15-year domination of the Scottish league.

With Archibald sold to Spurs and Jim Leighton replacing Clark, Ferguson’s Aberdeen followed up with four Scottish Cups in five seasons, complemented in 1983 with two European trophies. After a memorable 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Cup-Winners’ Cup, Aberdeen beat Real Madrid after extra-time in the final, both vital games settled by goals from John Hewitt as substitute. In the pouring rain of Gothenburg, Eric Black had opened the scoring early on, only for a rare slip by McLeish to Real through.

Ferguson made sure his old guard comprised the trophy-winning squad, even including the injured Kennedy as a non-playing substitute.

That December, Aberdeen beat Hamburg to win the Super Cup – then claimed back-to-back league titles in 1984 and 1985.

After Ferguson left for Manchester United in 1986, the management team of Alex Smith and Jocky Scott kept Aberdeen in the hunt. With Charlie Nicholas up front, and still with the centre-back pairing of McLeish and Miller, Smith and Scott’s Dons made three cup finals, winning two.

In 1991, with Hans Gillhaus, Jim Bett and Scott Booth, they came within 90 minutes of beating an all-conquering Rangers side to the title.

Ex-Don managers Miller, McGhee and Roy Aitken came and went but form dipped. Aitken led the Dons to a League Cup in 1995-96, but it wasn’t until 2007-08 under Jimmy Calderwood that Aberdeen achieved a run in Europe, also reaching the semi-finals in both cups.

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Aberdeen shop/Ian Thomson

Domestic consistency has at last arrived with Derek McInnes, Scotland Manager of the Year for 2013-14. Gaining third place in the league, Aberdeen won their first trophy in 19 years with a penalty shoot-out win over Inverness in the League Cup.

More than 40,000 Dons fans packed Celtic Park for the final, with healthy crowds at Pittodrie for European games against Groningen and Real Sociedad the following autumn.

Aberdeen and Celtic, the only top-flight mainstays in Scottish football history, finished in the top two positions again in 2015, though the points margin was a wide one. After two months of the 2015-16 campaign, it was Aberdeen who were on top, young Irish striker Adam Rooney still scoring for fun. A title would be a first for long-term owner Stewart Milne, who has been planning a new stadium for Aberdeen near Loirston Loch.

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Pittodrie/Ian Thomson

Stadium

Scotland’s largest football ground outside Glasgow, Pittodrie has been the home of Aberdeen FC throughout their history.

Holding 22,000, this former dung heap was first used for football in 1899. Hosts Aberdeen, the original club, one of three who formed Aberdeen FC in 1903, then passed it on to the new team.

Attendances increased as a main stand was erected in 1925, along with a trophy room and, a football first, a pitchside dug-out for the coaching team. Crowd figures also rose as silverware arrived, Dons fans accommodated in all-seated comfort from 1978.

The twin-tiered Richard Donald stand, or RDS, was erected behind the east goal in 1993. Away fans are allocated the P-R sections of the sideline South Stand nearest to the RDS, families placed in the Merkland Road end, recognisable from its traditional granite exterior. The best seats are in the venerable Main Stand, with executive boxes also running between the two tiers of the RDS.

Popular with away fans despite the bitter wind whipping off the nearby North Sea, revered by the Red Army, Pittodrie has staged over a dozen Scotland internationals, most recently the 2013 friendly with Estonia.

All this will come to an end at some point in the not too distant future, when owner (and construction millionaire) Stewart Milne builds a new stadium at Loirston Loch and sells this century-old ground for housing development.

Transport

Several buses run from the city centre to Pittodrie, a walk of some 15-20min. Red line Nos.1 and 2 run every 10-15min along Union Street before heading up King Street at Castlegate. Alight at the stop after King Street Bus Depot stop at Merkland Road – cross over for Merkland Road and the stadium is straight ahead.

Less frequent pink No.X40 also runs up King Street from Union Street while pink No.13 sets off up King Street but veers up Park Road to pass behind the stadium on Golf Road and the stop for Pittodrie.

Tickets

Tickets are available at the stadium office (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm, Sat 9.30am-1.30pm/kick-off) or online.

Admission on the day is pricier. Adults pay £28/30 in the Main Stand, £24/26 in the RDS and South Stands and £20/22 in the Merkland Stand. Advance prices for under-18s are £10-15 and across the board £6 for under-12s. All concessions are £14-22 on the day.

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Aberdeen shop/Ian Thomson

Shop

The club shop (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm/kick-off and post-match) is by reception between the Main Stand and the RDS. Branded souvenirs include hip flasks, luggage tags and postcard books.

Tours

Free stadium tours are offered Tue-Thur on non-matchdays. Reserve on 01224 650 400 or reception@afc.co.uk.

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Pittodrie Bar/Ian Thomson

Bars

Halfway up King Street from town, the Pittodrie Bar is one of the main haunts for Aberdeen fans on match days. Photographs, caricatures and signed jerseys from Dons legends line the red-bordered walls while three TVs and a projector screen sports news and live action.

Another option on King Street, a ten-minute stroll of Pittodrie, is The Bobbin, a university bar on two levels with two pool tables at the rear of the downstairs bar.

The Bon Accord Golf Club offers the closest option for a pre-match drink, situated a throw-in away from Aberdeen’s club shop at the foot of Pittodrie Street. Entrance is restricted to members although a yearly associate membership is available for £12.60.

Also nearby are the Caledonian and the Northern Golf Clubs, also with various membership offers and restrictions.

All three golf clubs have been in place for a century or more – longer than Aberdeen FC.


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