Aberdeen v Rangers Connections

Alec WilloughbyRemarkably it is almost 40 years since Aberdeen last bought a player from Rangers. Alec Willoughby was the player involved in a £20,000 deal as Eddie Turnbull brought Willoughby to Pittodrie. Since then there have been plenty of players who have crossed the great divide but none that have been commanded a fee from Aberdeen.

Back in the 1920's Rangers inside forward Bob McDermid moved to Pittodrie after his transfer from the Ibrox club in June 1925. McDermid went on to become a great favourite at Pittodrie and he enjoyed a long association with the Dons. He was made captain after the departure of Bert MacLachlan and after the 'Great Mystery' of 1931 McDermid took on the role as a senior for what was then a young Aberdeen side. He continued that role after retiring from playing and became a trainer in his own right during the war.

Dave Smith emerged through the ranks at Pittodrie and was capped for Scotland in 1966 before his £50,000 switch to Ibrox. Smith was in the Rangers side that won the ECWC in 1972. Jim Forrest was sold by Rangers in 1968 following their disastrous defeat at Berwick in the cup some months earlier. Eddie Turnbull brought the striker back to Scotland a year later in what was a club record £25,000 transfer from Preston North End. Forrest went on to play his part in the Dons famous Scottish Cup win in 1970.

Aberdeen's success in the 1980's meant that several players would turn out for both clubs. Jim Bett had an almost nomadic career before finally settling at Theo SneldersPittodrie in 1985 where he played for the Dons for a decade. Before his spell at Pittodrie Bett had two spells with Rangers after playing in Belgium with Lokeren. Alex Ferguson paid the Belgian club £300,000 for his services in June 1985. Neale Cooper was part of the great Aberdeen side that won the ECWC in 1983 and after an unsuccessful stay with Aston Villa he was brought back to Scotland by Rangers manager Graeme Souness in 1987. Doug Bell was so often a hero for Aberdeen in the European arena and although he was never a regular in that great Aberdeen side he was tempted away from Pittodrie and joined Rangers in 1986 in a £125,000 transfer. Former Dundee Utd striker Davie Dodds was brought back to Scotland in 1986 when Aberdeen paid £215,000 for him from Xamax of Switzerland. Dodds was sold to Rangers in 1988 after failing to make his mark at Pittodrie. Aberdeen born David Robertson perhaps was involved in the most controversial transfer between the clubs when he joined Rangers in 1991 in the immediate aftermath of the Dons tile flop at Ibrox. A tribunal set the fee at only £970,000 which left a lot of bad feeling in Aberdeen. Robertson went on to become a success at Ibrox before joining Leeds United in 1994. Another full back who was tempted to join Rangers was Stephen Wright who left Aberdeen in a £1.5m deal in 1994 after winning his first Scotland cap during his spell with the Dons.

Goalkeepers Theo Snelders and Nicky Walker were involved in transfers in the 90's which saw both play for Aberdeen and Rangers. Snelders left the Dons in 1996 after a successful spell at Pittodrie in a £300,000 move which surprised many with Snelders settling for a back up role to Andy Goram at Ibrox. Walker was a Scotland international that was signed by Roy Aitken from Partick in 1997. Walker enjoyed several years at Ibrox before losing his place in the Rangers first team.

Off the field there have been a few notable managers and coaches who have made a significant contribution at both clubs. The most renowned is Alex Ferguson who brought unprecedented success to Aberdeen in the 80's. Ferguson was a forward with Rangers in the late 60's. His assistant at Pittodrie Archie Knox was also in a similar role with Rangers during Walter Smiths' first spell as manager at Ibrox. Alec Miller's last game for Rangers was in the 1982 cup final defeat from Aberdeen and he went on to become Aberdeen boss in 1998. Current Aberdeen assistant manager Jimmy Nicholl was also at Ibrox during his playing career, while Alex McLeish remains the Dons most capped outfield player during his memorable Pittodrie career.


Aberdeen Milestones v Rangers

Record Premier League win;

Aberdeen 5:1 Rangers at Pittodrie 19th January 1985 (McDougall 3, Black, McQueen)

Record League win;

Aberdeen 6:1 Rangers 8th April 1961 at Pittodrie (Cummings 3, Little, Brownlee, Cooke)Record League Cup win v Rangers

Record Scottish Cup win;

Aberdeen 6:0 Rangers Semi Final at Hampden 10th April 1954 (O'Neil 3, Leggat, Allister, Buckley)

Record League Cup win;

Aberdeen 5:1 Rangers 27th October 1976 Semi Final at Hampden (Scott 3, Harper, Jarvie)

50th Aberdeen goal;

Willie Mills 17th November 1934, 2-2 draw at Ibrox

100th Aberdeen goal;

Paddy Buckley 10th April 1954, 6-0 win at Hampden

200th Aberdeen goal;

Joe Harper 22nd October 1977, 1-3 defeat at Ibrox

300th Aberdeen goal;

Brian Irvine 4th December 1991, 2-3 defeat at Pittodrie

Record Pittodrie attendance v Rangers;

44,647 Scottish Cup 6th Round 19th February 1955Aberdeen v Rangers 1984/85 season

Aberdeen have remained undefeated against Rangers in Premier League meetings in all four matches on five occasions;

Season 1979.80 W3-2, D2-2, W3-1, W1-0.(Aberdeen finished as Champions)

Season 1981.82 W3-1, W4-0, D0-0, W3-1.(Aberdeen finished as Runners up)

Season 1983.84 W3-0, D0-0, D1-1, W2-0.(Aberdeen finished as Champions)

Season 1984.85 D0-0, W2-1, W5-1, W2-1.(Aberdeen finished as Champions)

Season 2005.06 W3-2, D0-0, W2-0, D1-1(Aberdeen finished in 4th place)


Classic Game v Rangers

24th December 1977

Aberdeen 4:0 Rangers

Premier League at Pittodrie

Aberdeen; Clark, Kennedy, McLelland, McMaster, Garner, Miller, Sullivan, Jarvie, Harper, Gibson, Robb.

Rangers; Kennedy, Jardine, Greig, Forsyth, Jackson, MacDonald, McLean, Russell, Johnstone, Smith, Cooper.

Attendance; 21,000

Referee; W Paterson

Aberdeen v Rangers Dec 1977 Harper Scores the third goal

Season 1977.78 went down as one of disappointment for Aberdeen. In what was Billy McNeill's one and only season in charge there was only two sides involved when it came down to winning the domestic honours. With Celtic struggling to keep up it was a straight battle between Aberdeen and Rangers. Games against each other that season were incredible matches with some surprising results along the way. The season opened with a fantastic opening game between the sides at Pittodrie and McNeill got off to a flier in a 3-1 win. Rangers had knocked the Dons out of the League Cup and gained revenge in the league with a similar 3-1 win at Ibrox before the sides clashed again at Pittodrie on Christmas Eve. It was simply a must win game for Aberdeen as they were the only challengers with both sides so far ahead in the league race. Aberdeen could not rely on help from elsewhere and they were aware that a Rangers win would effectively end the race before the New Year.

Aberdeen went for Rangers from the start and tried to unsettle them at every turn. John McMaster was in the Aberdeen midfield and he combined well in the opening minutes with Joe Harper to set up the first chance as McMaster's' shot curled round the post with Kennedy beaten. Bobby Clark had to look lively to cut out a cross with Rangers Colin Jackson ready to take advantage before Stuart Kennedy came close for the Dons in a rare raid in the Rangers box. Aberdeen were looking the more likely and Rangers were clearly rattled when John Greig passed the ball back to his own keeper when he was actually in the Aberdeen half!

After half an hour there was bedlam inside Pittodrie as the Dons took the lead. A three-man move with Jarvie, Harper and Ian Gibson ended with Gibson giving Kennedy no chance from 12 yards. Aberdeen continued to pile on the pressure and just before half time they went further ahead. A long clearance from the Aberdeen half found Joe Harper in splendid isolation. The Dons striker set up Dave Robb who stroked the ball into the corner of the net. It had been a vibrant opening period and Aberdeen were well on top and looking like adding to their total.

Rangers were left with the prospect of a heavy defeat if they came out and threw caution to the wind in the second half. Rangers came out in the second half with a renewed purpose but Willie Miller and Co were in imperious mood and never gave the Ibrox side a look in. Joe Harper should have made it three when he was set clear by Gibson, but the Dons hit man slid the ball wide. Miller had to look lively with a couple timely interceptions as Rangers tried to claw their way back into the game. Harper was involved again with a clever free kick that deceived Kennedy but went just over the bar with the Rangers keeper well beaten. Rangers brought on Parlane for current SFA supreme Gordon Smith in an attempt to inject some power up front.

Parlane was soon in action and it took the combined efforts of Willie Garner and Chic McLelland to stop the Rangers substitute. Aberdeen hit back and increased their lead in 76 minutes. Ian Gibson had been enjoying a fantastic game with his direct running causing havoc in the Rangers defence. Gibson split the Rangers defence to set up Joe Harper to score a superb third goal to finish off ant lingering hopes of a Rangers comeback. Tempers were becoming frayed as the crowd were revelling in a great Dons display and the visitors were finding matters difficult to accept. That tension spilled on to the terraces as a few Rangers fans tried to invade the pitch but the trouble was soon stopped by the police. Aberdeen rubbed salt into Rangers wounds with a fourth goal. Harper turned provider when he rolled the ball to Drew Jarvie and he scored with ease.

Rangers keeper Kennedy saved the visitors in the last minute with a brilliant save from Harper that would have made it a sensational fifth for Aberdeen. Referee Paterson ended Rangers nightmare soon after when he blew for full time. The emphatic win closed the gap at the top with Aberdeen and Rangers 12 points ahead of third place Partick Thistle.