AFC and the SFA Youth Cup
SFA Youth Cup | the Dons History
The competition has historically acted as a launch-pad for some of Scottish football’s greatest talents since the first final was contested back in 1984. Aberdeen have won the trophy on three previous occasions in 1985, 1986 and 2001.
The most memorable win was in 1985 after one of the greatest games ever seen at Pittodrie.
Former Dons captain Derek Whyte enjoyed many fine moments at Pittodrie during his career. However he will certainly want to forget his first ever appearance at the stadium. Back in May 1985 the Dons had clinched the Premier League title in emphatic fashion and it was before the Youth Cup Final that the first team squad were presented with the league trophy. Led by captain Willie Miller all of the 18-strong squad took their seats to watch the young Dons take on Celtic in the final. It was described afterwards by manager Alex Ferguson as a game that ‘had all the innocence of youth and was a joy to watch.’ The Aberdeen ethic of being a family club was certainly in evidence as the first team squad backed the youngsters to the hilt and they must have been enthralled by one of the most stunning comebacks ever seen at the old stadium. The venue for the final was decided on the toss of a coin and Aberdeen chairman Dick Donald called it correct. It was a break the young Dons deserved as all of the previous three ties had been played away from home. In the first round Aberdeen beat Dundee 2-0 at Dens Park then St Johnstone were beaten 3-1 at Muirton. Against Ayr Utd in the semi final the Somerset side hat yet to lose a goal. Aberdeen routed Ayr Utd 6-1.
In the final, Aberdeen led by captain Paul Wright were showing early nerves and were almost behind in six minutes when Thomson was forced to bring down a lively Mills to prevent the Celtic winger going through on goal. Steve Gray tried to get the Young Dons going but Wright and Robertson failed to connect with his teasing cross. Celtic looked very confident at that stage and they silenced the home fans by taking the lead in 14 minutes. McGuire sent Mills clear on the right and the winger beat Beckett with a low drive from the edge of the area. The referee ticked off McGuire, and Gray of Aberdeen after a clash on the touchline before the dons missed a great opportunity in 20 minutes. Miller totally missed a Harvie cross which had split the Celtic defence. At the other end Celtic were denied a penalty when McGuire was clearly pushed by Harvie, then Celtic’s Kean was booked for a foul on Wright in 32 minutes. McGuire was proving to be a real threat for the visitors and from his cross Fraser was on hand to beat Beckett with a header after 35 minutes. In Aberdeen’s best move of the half Wright put a volley wide of the target after good work by Miller and Harvie.
In the opening minute of the second half McGuire was again in the thick of the action when he fired a fierce 25-yard shot, which brought out a fine save by Beckett. Aberdeen were always looking to push forward and keeper Murray had to be quick to deny Wright. Celtic put the result apparently beyond doubt in 57 minutes when Fraser crashed a 16-yard shot into the corner of the net. Aberdeen then sent on Selbie and McLeod for McCombie and Harvie. The Young Dons got the goal their efforts deserved in 65 minutes when Wright turned swiftly from 14 yards and hammered a low drive past Murray. Another powerful Paul Wright effort bounced off Murray but Whyte was on hand to clear the danger. Aberdeen were enjoying their best period of the match and gave themselves a real chance when Jocky Lawrence turned in a Miler cross in 75 minutes to take it to 3-2. Celtic made changes to stem the Aberdeen attacks but with the young Dons in the ascendancy they continued to pile on the pressure. Miller headed wide but the Dons striker made amends with a sensational equaliser in 86 minutes. Murray spilled an attempted clearance and Joe Miller lobbed the ball in from 35 yards. Five minutes into extra time Aberdeen went ahead when Lawrence converted a cross from the right. Celtic at that point were stunned, as it was all Aberdeen. Steve Gray had the noisy home support out of the seats in 104 minutes when he scored a brilliant fifth goal for the Dons; taking control of the ball on his chest he hit a sweet shot that flew past Celtic keeper Murray. Derek Whyte was booked for a nasty foul on Paul Wright in the last minute of a sensational extra time period. Captain Paul Wright accepted the trophy in front of a jubilant home support that was lucky enough to witness a memorable comeback. Several Aberdeen fans left the ground after it was 3-0 to Celtic and they would be stunned to learn of the young Dons resolve.
A year later Aberdeen retained the trophy when they comfortably defeated Queen of the South 2-0 in the final down at Palmerston. The Dons had to make the long five hour trip to Dumfries and faced a side who were cheered on by a large vocal home support. Queen of the South had stunned Celtic by knocking them out at the semi-final stage. However they were still rank outsiders against the holders who were too strong and ran out comfortable winners after a very professional performance. The goals came from Harvie and a Wright penalty. It was a similar looking side to the one that had won the trophy the year before, with David Robertson and Paul Wright still involved, but it was Rob McRobb who had the honour of captaining the side that night. We will have an interview with Rob coming up on RedTV this week.
Back in 2001 it was still an Aberdeen U18 side who contested the final in front of a crowd of 2,228. The Dons got off to a great start when Tiernan scored after Celtic U18 keeper Morrison fumbled a Robert Duncan corner in the second minute. Celtic then came into the game and it took several good saves from Mark Peat to keep the Dons lead in tact as the Parkhead side pushed for an equaliser. However after 20 minutes the Dons extended their lead after good play involving Payne, Scott Michie and Darren Mackie, with Michie scoring to make it 2-0. After this Celtic went back onto the offensive and the majority of the second half was end to end but the Dons ran out comfortable winners to ensure that the trophy came back to Pittodrie. Captain Fergus Tiernan and Ross O’Donoghue were instrumental in the reds midfield. Kevin McNaughton was also in the squad that night.
The last final Aberdeen were in was 2003. The Dons lost the game at McDiarmid Park 3-1 after extra time. Quite a number of players from both sides went on to have good careers in the game. Hopefully it will be a similar case on Thursday for the youngsters from Aberdeen and Hibernian.
Aberdeen: David Hutton, Murray McCulloch, Scott Muirhead, Scott Morrison, Zander Diamond, Duncan Jones (C), Richard Buckley, Kevin Souter, Stephen Tardi, Richard Foster, Calum McKenzie Subs: Craig Higgins, Greg Kelly, Murray Watson, Allan Carella, Michele Lombardi.
Celtic: David Marshall, Gary Irvine, Charlie Mulgrew, Paul Lawson (C), Stephen Low, Craig Reid, Aiden McGeady, Craig Beattie, Gary Arbuckle, Michael Gardyne, Ross Wallace Subs: Chris McCormack, Michael McGovern, Ross Harris, David Pinkowski, Kevin Ramsey
Finally, good luck to the young Dons.
Aberdeen FC SFA Youth Cup Winning teams |
07/05/85 BP YOUTH CUP FINAL
ABERDEEN V CELTIC (5-3 AET)
Aberdeen; Beckett, McCombie, Harvie, Green, Thomson, McRobb, J Miller, Gray, Lawrence, Wright, D Robertson. Subs; Selbie, McLeod.
Scorers: Jocky Lawrence (2), Paul Wright, Joe Miller and Steve Gray.
06/05/86 BP YOUTH CUP FINAL
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH V ABDERDEEN (0-2)
Aberdeen: Tait, Green, D Robertson, McRobb, Thomson, Harvie, Lawrence, Polworth, Wright (Emslie), McCombie (McLeod), Selbie
Scorers: Harvie, Wright (pen)
09/05/01 SFA YOUTH CUP FINAL
CELTIC v ABERDEEEN (0-2)
Aberdeen: Peat, Payne, Morrison, Kidd (Carella), McNaughton, McCulloch, Mackie, O’Donoghue, Michie, Tiernan, Duncan.
Scorers: Tiernan, Michie