When Aberdeen Won the Cup Winners Cup

1983 Final v Real Madrid in Gothenburg

For many in the north east of Scotland, Sir Alex Ferguson's best accomplishment took place on a stormy evening in Gothenburg nearly 40 years ago.

His achievement in winning the European Cup Winners' Cup tournament with Aberdeen probably ranks above his several later victories with the beauty of Manchester United.

It absolutely does for the 12,000 Aberdeen fans who went to Sweden to enjoy the Dons take on Real Madrid.

Both of Glasgow's major clubs had actually triumphed in Europe before Aberdeen's success - Celtic winning the European Cup in 1967 as well as Rangers the Cup Winners' Cup in 1972. Aberdeen are the last Scottish side to raise a European football trophy and their victory was amazing since it appeared ahead from a "golden generation" who defied the chances to lug an unfancied rural side to glory.

When Ferguson came to Aberdeen in the summer time of 1978, after denying the role the previous year, nobody can have visualized the impact he would have on the Scottish game. He acquired a Dons side which had actually underperformed in the last few years. It was the brand-new manager's aspiration to gradually, however definitely, create a team which might win prizes as well as contend in Europe. Ferguson was simply 36 when he joined from St Mirren. He rapidly commenced making an effect on the Granite City club. Ferguson recruited Archie Knox from Forfar as his assistant and also the pair were a powerful "bad cop/bad cop" combination that believed in self-control as well as effort. Archie Knox confesses was not an ambience in which a player can ever before discover a "shoulder to cry on" as well as they were anticipated to pick themselves up after a spoken crushing and carry on.

They had to make their very own success because no-one was mosting likely to make it very easy for them. His first season had teething problems, as any kind of manager in their initial duty at a big club will testify. Aberdeen tasted loss in both the Scottish Cup semi-final and also the League Cup final. As Ferguson finished the season trophy-less, the task looked a lot more difficult, regard had to be obtained from his gamers; winning trophies was the only solution!

In 1980 Aberdeen won the Scottish league title for just the second time in their history and also began to acquire experience in European tournament, although they came undone against English champions Liverpool.

The next year they beat protecting champs Ipswich in the UEFA Cup and also looked established for a solid run prior to tripping up versus German side Hamburg in the quarter-final.

The Scottish Cup was claimed in May 1982 with a 4-1 win against an unpredictable Rangers side, who had gotten on a not likely economic crisis. This outcome made others stand up and take notice, Aberdeen were not simply a brief success, yet a formidable opponent that can win when it truly mattered. Nobody recognized it at the time, but Aberdeen will have the season of their lives. Having won the Scottish Cup, Aberdeen got approved for the Cup Winners' Cup - which was seen in those days as the 2nd essential trophy in European club football.

Preliminary Round

Aberdeen would start in the preliminary round and were drawn against Swiss side FC Sion. 

The extra round was no issue for the Dons, as they won 7-0 in the first leg at Pittodrie, meaning the pressure was off and they finished with an 11-1.

First Round 

The first round proper of the Cup Winners Cup Saw Aberdeen drawn to Dinamo Tirana from Albania. This would prove to be a much harder test for Ferguson's men, but Aberdeen stumbled through 1-0 on aggregate, winning the first leg at Pittodrie and holding out and then holding out in their travel to Eastern Europe.

Second Round

As stated in other blogs. European football competitions tended to start with 32 teams, and with simple knockout structure, winning one tie in the tournament proper would already see you in the last 16. 

Aberdeen were drawn with  Polish outfit and seasoned European campaigners Lech Poznan. 

Yet again, Aberdeen would manage to keep a clean sheet on the aggregate score line, doing so for three rounds in a row including the preliminary round. This was testimony to the quality McLeish offered at the back. 

3-0 on aggregate, with Mark McGhee and Peter Weir on the scoresheet at Pittodrie, and Dougie Bell sticking in the winner is Poland. Aberdeen were in the last eight! 

Quarter Final

Things were getting serious now. Aberdeen were drawn with German giants Bayern Munich. Bayern had won 3 European Cups in a row during the 70s and also had a Cup Winners Cup to their name. 

The first leg was played at the iconic Olympiastadion where Bayern played until 2005. 

Not much to report. 0-0 would be the score line leaving at all to play for at Pittodrie. 

The second leg, was a much more dramatic affair. Bayern took the lead after 10 minutes, to be cancelled out with a goal from Simpson after 40 minutes. The teams would go in level at the break.

Bayern regained the lead after the hour mark, and entering the closing stages of the match, looked as though they might hold out. Time was running out for Aberdeen. 

However, in dramatic fashion, a quickfire double from Aberdeen turned it on it's head! '77 from McLeish and '78 from Hewitt. Now time was against the german side ... 

Aberdeen would hold out. A huge scalp had been taken, and it was onwards to the semi-final. 


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