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The new kit | the history

May 15, 2018 5:00 pm Author: RedMatchday Team


The new Aberdeen home kit is inspired from the one worn back in seasons 1984-85 and 1985-86. It is a nod to the past without being a direct replica, but we hope you like it nonetheless.

The only change to the kit during those two seasons was the honours above and below the logo. During that time the Dons won a Premier League title and the following season won the League Cup and then the Scottish Cup. They also reached the quarter final stage of the European Cup, the furthest the club have reached in Europe’s top competition.

The RedMatchday team look back at what was happening at Pittodrie back around that time.


Aberdeen went into season 1984/85 as double holders and they were the team to beat in Scotland. They had reached the pinnacle with the Gothenburg squad virtually intact, but the pressure was now on as Doug Rougvie, Mark McGhee and Gordon Strachan all left the club in the summer. Alex Ferguson moved swiftly for direct replacements, although Billy Stark had been brought in a year earlier to take over from Strachan. Tom McQueen was brought in from Clyde while Frank McDougall was plundered from St Mirren.

On the eve of the season, Ferguson declared that retaining the league title was his prime target and with Aberdeen also having another shot at the European Cup, there was guarded optimism in the ranks though the loss of three Scottish internationals at the peak of their careers left a huge void in the squad. Many thought that Aberdeen could be knocked from their lofty pedestal and those claims gathered momentum when they were knocked out of both the League Cup and worse still the European Cup in the First Round, the Dons going down in a penalty shoot-out in Berlin against a side that was clearly inferior. In hindsight that gave Aberdeen to opportunity to concentrate on the championship. Rangers were still in the middle of a transitional period and were not expected to muster a challenge while Dundee United’s success in 1983 was never likely to happen again. It was Celtic that posed the biggest threat. Games between the two sides in that era were highly charged and never without incident. Both sides knew exactly what was at stake and the four meetings would have a huge bearing on the destination of the title.

Aberdeen were keen to get off to a good start and lead from the front and the opening fixtures were kind to the Dons and they took full advantage by winning their first five matches against Dundee and Hibernian at Pittodrie while full points were taken from St Mirren, Dundee United and Morton. It wasn’t until 15th September that the Dons dropped their first point; against Rangers at Pittodrie in a 0-0 draw. Three weeks later, Aberdeen lost for the first time at Celtic. The 2-1 defeat was full of controversy but it was clear even at that early stage that the race would develop into a straight fight between Aberdeen and Celtic. Nevertheless, it was a bad week for the Dons who had just come back from their penalty nightmare in Berlin, further heartache following when Billy Stark missed from the spot after Frank McDougall’s volley had levelled the match. A Davie Provan winner rubbed salt in the Dons’ wounds.

The winter months were critical to the Dons’ hopes as they held on to top spot despite their Parkhead defeat. Aberdeen won seven straight league games between October and December, which piled the pressure on the Celts who were due at Pittodrie next. The game was billed as the league decider and an all-ticket 23,000 crowd packed Pittodrie to see Aberdeen carve Celtic apart in a marvelous 4-2 win. Eric Black did the damage with two goals in a game that the Dons dominated from the outset. Aberdeen had gone in to two-goal lead after a soaring header from Black and a deflected McKimmie drive put Aberdeen in control. Celtic came back twice, but Aberdeen kept extending their lead within minutes. Despite a rare defeat at Tannadice in the New Year derby, Aberdeen were still two points clear and it was from that setback that Aberdeen went on a run that was to break the Celtic resolve. Wins over Hibernian, Morton, Rangers and Dumbarton extended the Dons lead to eight points as Celtic slipped up and the Rangers win was a particularly memorable one as Aberdeen hit them for five with fabulous Frank McDougall weighing in with a hat trick. On March 2nd a majestic Aberdeen swept aside St Mirren at Pittodrie in a 3-0 win with Billy Stark the architect.

Meanwhile Celtic dropped a point against Dundee United and the lead was further extended with convincing 4-0 and 5-0 wins over Dundee and Hibernian. Aberdeen were relentless and looked unbeatable and their good form continued with a rousing 4-2 win over Dundee United at Pittodrie with John Hewitt scoring twice. Celtic looked to Rangers to stop the Dons but a 2-1 win at Ibrox had Aberdeen firmly in the box seat, a position they were in no mood to relinquish.


Title won

On the 27th April the Dons met Celtic for a title showdown. Celtic arrived in defiant mood and it was the usual frantic stuff when these sides met with tackles flying in. The game exploded into life in the 39th minute when Celtic were awarded a controversial penalty. Frank McGarvey for once evaded Willie Miller and Billy Stark cleared his cross as he beat Celtic striker Mo Johnston to the ball. Amazingly referee Smith, no stranger to awarding dubious decisions against the Dons, pointed to the spot. There was disbelief from both sets of players. Amidst chaotic scenes at the King Street end, Roy Aitken beat Jim Leighton with the penalty and the Celtic captain continued to celebrate behind the goal before police intervention prevented any further trouble.

The Dons then laid siege on the visitors’ goal in the second half. Alex Ferguson threw on Neale Cooper for Doug Bell on the hour and that change paid an immediate dividend. Cooper crunched into Peter Grant in midfield, robbing him of the ball and he set up Stewart McKimmie on the right where McLeod cynically hacked the Aberdeen defender down. Ian Porteous floated a free-kick into the six yard box and it was Willie Miller who rose to head past Bonner to level the game. Miller dusted himself down and embarked on a triumphant jog along the South Terrace to the acclaim of the jubilant
home support. McGarvey had a goal chalked off late in the game but Aberdeen held on for the draw that, barring some astonishing results in the final two games, handed them the title – the only time it has been won at Pittodrie. The following week, Frank McDougall scored a superb first half hat-trick at Tynecastle.

Aberdeen created a record Premier League haul of 59 points, finishing seven clear of Celtic. The Dons also broke the goal scoring record with 89 goals from their 36 matches in a phenomenal season.

27/4/85 Premier Division
Aberdeen 1:1 Celtic
Pittodrie Stadium
Aberdeen: Leighton, McKimmie, McQueen, Stark, McLeish, Miller, Porteous, Simpson, McDougall, Bell, Hewitt.
Subs used; Cowan for McDougall, Cooper for Bell
Celtic: Bonner, W McStay, McGrain, Aitken, McAdam, McLeod, Grant, P McStay, Johnston, Burns, McGarvey.
Subs used; Provan for Grant
Scorers: Aberdeen; Miller 61
Celtic: Aitken (pen) 40

Attendance: 23,000


Around the Ground

Pittodrie was getting a bit of a makeover that summer as a new cover was being built over the King Street end of the ground. Work began in the summer but the new ‘Merkland Family Stand’ was not officially opened until October that year. The new structure also included new toilets and shops and was aimed at the younger element of the Aberdeen support.

The capacity at Pittodrie was 24,000 back then and the Dons averaged more than 15,000 for their home matches with a prime Centre Stand seat for the visit of Servette in the European Champions Cup would set you back £5. The Aberdeen match programme that season was also voted the best in Scotland so nothing changes there! Produced by Sports Projects the full colour award winner cost a measly 40p. Sir Alex also wrote his first book.



The Dons won the League Cup for the third time. Significant in that it was the one trophy that had eluded Alex Ferguson during his spell at Pittodrie. Despite winning almost everything in that glorious spell the League Cup had not been secured. Under Alex Ferguson the Dons had lost two previous finals and they set the record straight in style in 1985.

At the start of season 1985.86 Aberdeen looked invincible. They had just retained their coveted Premier League crown after a record-breaking season with goals scored and not many conceded. The only blot in the Dons copybook was their failure to win a cup the previous season, the first time that they had not achieved that for four years. That was perhaps one of the reasons that Alex Ferguson had insisted that his players do something about.

Ferguson was always keen to build on his squad from a position of strength and he moved in the summer to bring Jim Bett back to Scotland. Bett was an established Scottish international and his £300,000 move from Belgian club Lokeren was the one big transfer deal Aberdeen completed in the close season.

Ayr United were beaten 5-0 at home and then St Johnstone were despatched 2-0 at Muirton.

Hearts, who would go on and lose the league on the final few minutes of the season, were beaten 1-0 at Pittodrie. Not for the first time Aberdeen were through to the semi-final against Dundee Utd, a tie that was oddly played on a home and away basis.

It made no real difference that the first leg of the semi-final would be at Tannadice as both sides invariably fared well away from home against each other. On 25th September 1985 Aberdeen gained a valuable first leg lead by winning at Tannadice through another Eric Black goal. There were a total of nine bookings and a red card for Richard Gough in a match that was threatening to get out of hand on more than one occasion.

The return at Pittodrie two weeks later gave Aberdeen the chance to exorcise the final of 1979 in front of another near capacity Aberdeen crowd. It was also the first time that the new Merkland Stand was opened with a range of new facilities.

In a virtual repeat of the first leg it was another great run by John Hewitt down the left that ended with a superb cross converted by Frank McDougall in 68 minutes. McDougall was arguably the finest front post forward in Britain at the time and many of his goals came from that area. Fabulous Frank got in between Hegarty and Holt to superbly clip the ball past McAlpine who barely moved to attempt a save. That goal set up Aberdeen for a comfortable finish to the game, as United were down and out. With both halves of the Old Firm out of the competition not that it would have mattered to the Dons, it was to be Aberdeen and Hibernian in the Skol League Cup Final on the 27th October. Aberdeen had qualified for the final in style and had yet to concede a goal, Hibernian would be facing the Dons as rank outsiders to lift the trophy.


League Cup Final

While the final against Hibernian was to become known as the ’12-minute’ Final due to the clinical way in which Aberdeen effectively won the game, it also became something if a milestone. No team had ever won a major trophy in Scotland without conceding a goal but Aberdeen duly accomplished that feat with a 3-0 win over the Easter Road side.

Hibernian had qualified for the final the hard way – after beating Celtic in an earlier round they knocked out Rangers in their semi-final. They had also drawn against Aberdeen 1-1 recently in the league.

Meanwhile Aberdeen were battling on four fronts and were serious challengers for all four. With the final already booked against Hibernian in the League Cup, the Dons were making progress in the European Cup, sitting at the top of the league and also had the Scottish Cup to follow.

In the European Cup the Dons had beaten Akranes before facing Swiss champions Servette in the 2nd round. The Dons had to travel to Geneva only four days before the final against Hibernian and it was hardly an ideal preparation. However manager Ferguson claimed that his players thrived on this type of competition and pressure and after a 0-0 draw in Switzerland the Dons looked forward to Hampden.

The only problem facing him was whether to recall Peter Weir probably in place of John Hewitt. Hewitt had been superb in recent games. Ferguson eventually went with Weir on the bench and he was also delighted to recall Eric Black to the starting line up so he could go with a front three of Black, McDougall and Hewitt. Jim Bett was still not fully recovered from a cartilage operation. Despite the game being televised live on television, a crowd of 40,065 turned up for the game with Aberdeen taking more than their fair share of support through to Hampden.

Man of the match John Hewitt set the tone early on and he cut through the Hibernian defence. Twice in the opening 12 minutes Hewitt produced two pin-point crosses for Eric Black and then Billy Stark to give Aberdeen early dominance. McDougall cracked a shot off the post in the second half before Eric Black slid in to score the Dons’ third goal.

Defender Alex McLeish later revealed: “We played really well that day and I remember Paul Kane, who I later played with at Aberdeen, told me that we had pretty much won that final in the tunnel. He admitted he and the rest of their team were looking at our players and had felt intimidated standing next to us. We certainly went out, played well and deserved our win.”

1985/86 Skol Cup
Aberdeen 3:0 Hibernian
Scorers: Black 2, Stark
Hampden Park
Aberdeen: Leighton, McKimmie, Mitchell, Stark, McLeish, Miller, Black, Simpson, McDougall, Cooper, Hewitt. Sub; Gray, Weir
Hibernian: Rough, Sneddon, Munro, Brazil, Fulton, Hunter, Kane, Chisholm, Cowan, Durie, McBride Subs: Collins, Harris


The European Cup

Hopes were high that Aberdeen could go all the way in the European Cup in 1986, the Dons seen as one of the favourites to lift the top European crown.

When they came out of the hat against Swedish champions Gothenburg in the quarter-finals, there was added optimism given that the Dons had avoided the cream of Spain and Italy in the draw. But the Swedes had already been crowned UEFA Cup winners and they offered a tough task. They were pretty much the Swedish national team at the time and were also fresh from a winter shutdown.

The first leg at Pittodrie was always going to be crucial. Aberdeen were well on top for long spells and Willie Miller, playing in his 50th European tie, gave Aberdeen a first half lead. Aberdeen’s greatest ever player, arguably Scotland’s greatest penalty box defender, Willie started his career as a striker. He had a prolific record whilst on loan at Highland League side Peterhead but after advice from Teddy Scott and others, he took up the role of sweeper.

For the goal, Neale Cooper played a deep free-kick from the halfway line which was flicked on by Hewitt. Incredibly, Alex McLeish was the player who set the goal up with a great lay-off for Miller, who took a touch with his right before lashing the ball home with his left.

Tord Holmgren equalised on 42 minutes and it took a goal from John Hewitt on 79 minutes to give A berdeen a 2-1 lead, before disaster struck when the brilliant Johnny Ekström equalised inthe final minute. The Dons went out on the away goal rule after a 0-0 draw at the Ullevi Stadium.

Aberdeen were unbeaten in all six matches in the European Cup that season.

Gothenburg played Barcelona in the semi-finals and despite a stunning 3-0 victory in the first leg, lost on penalties in the return leg at the Nou Camp. In the other semi-final, Anderlecht were beaten by Steaua Bucharest and the Romanians went on to beat Barca in the final, even though it was held in the Spanish city of Seville. The game finished 0-0, with little of note during the game, and Steaua won a penalty shoot-out 2-0, Barcelona missing all their spot kicks.

What might have been…

1985/86 European Cup
Quarter-final first leg
Aberdeen 2:2 IFK Gothenburg
Pittodrie Stadium
Aberdeen: Gunn, Cooper, Angus, Stark, McLeish, Miller W, Black, Simpson (McKimmie), Miller J (Hewitt), Bett, Weir.
IFK Gothenburg: Wernersson, Svensson (Kullberg), Hysen, Larsson, Fredericksson, Nilsson R, Petterson (Carlsson), Tord Holmgren, Tommy Holmgren, Ekstrom, Nilsson T.


Scottish Cup

Had it not been for a controversial Scottish Cup semi-final defeat against Dundee Utd at Tynecastle in 1985, Aberdeen would have been creating a new cup record that even the Old Firm could not come close to achieving. The Dons began their 1980’s Scottish Cup crusade with a 4-1 win over Rangers at Hampden. It was a symbolic victory in many ways as Aberdeen had at last crushed their cup final bogey against their Ibrox rivals and built on their league success of 1980. After retaining the cup in 1983 with another win over Rangers, Aberdeen made club history with a third win a year later against Celtic. After losing their first Scottish Cup tie in four years against Dundee Utd in 1985, Aberdeen went on to win the cup for the fourth time in five seasons in 1986.

Under Alex Ferguson the Dons had broken a number of club records, but their love affair with the Scottish Cup and the big games at Hampden was a constant factor during those heady days.

The Dons road to Hampden in 1986 was relatively straight forward; with success in the League Cup in October, Aberdeen were also through to the last eight of the European Champions Cup. Their campaign in the Scottish Cup was unique in that all opponents were from the east coast; Montrose, Arbroath, Dundee, Hibernian and cup final adversaries Hearts. For several weeks it was the Tynecastle side that looked the more likely team to succeed as they went so close to winning the title that year. Aberdeen for once were a bit off the pace in the league, but they were looking to secure a first ever domestic cup double with success in the Scottish Cup.

By the time Aberdeen had beaten Hibernian 3-0 at Dens Park to reach their fourth final in five years, Aberdeen had been knocked out of the European Champions Cup by an impressive Gothenburg side. With Hearts apparently closing in on an unlikely league title, Aberdeen could afford the luxury of preparing for the final with the pressure off for once. Aberdeen gave notice of their intent in a 1-1 draw against Hearts at Tynecastle in what was the first live televised league game in Scotland. Playing with little pressure, Aberdeen were unlucky not to severely dent Hearts championship hopes.

The final day of the league season was significant. Aberdeen travelled to relegated Clydebank with a virtual reserve team as Brian Irvine made his first team debut in a 6-0 stroll for the Dons. It was the ideal, almost relaxed approach that Ferguson had deployed to great effect in the build up to the big matches. The Dons opponents on the other hand could not have had a more disastrous time of it. Travelling to Dens Park on the final day looking to avoid defeat to clinch the Premier League, it seemed that Hearts at last were about to lay a long standing bogey that had haunted the club since 1965 when they blew their title hopes on the last day at home to Kilmarnock. History repeated itself in dramatic fashion as two late Dundee goals and Celtic hammering five past a poor St Mirren at Paisley meant that Hearts had incredibly lost the title on the last day.

The general feeling was that such a crushing blow would have an effect on club morale. While the noises coming out of Tynecastle were to the contrary, there was little doubt that such a crushing defeat had a huge bearing on the final. Aberdeen were masters at the big occasion with a team full of experienced players who had seen it all before.

The ring of confidence that oozed from the Pittodrie party was evident from the start of the game. Alex Ferguson knew that Hearts would be vulnerable from the kick off and his team began in whirlwind fashion.

The Dons, wearing a new kit, scored with their first meaningful attack after five minutes. Willie Miller played a long ball from the back and found John Hewitt in splendid isolation about 30 yards from the Hearts goal. Hewitt turned and moved towards the Hearts goal unchallenged. As the Hearts defenders stood still, Hewitt unleashed a ferocious shot which gave Hearts keeper Smith no chance. Despite Neil Berry coming close with a shot that came back off the bar and a John Robertson lob that went just over, that was it as far as Hearts were concerned. The second goal came four minutes after the break and was worthy of winning any final, and epitomised the Dons slick approach. It was John Hewitt who finished off a classic Aberdeen move. Peter Weir started the move on the left and his clever cross was superbly dummied by Frank McDougall. Hewitt anticipated his partner’s move and moved in to slot the ball home. In the 75th minute Weir set up the Dons third goal as his cross was headed past Smith by substitute Billy Stark. It all became too much for Hearts captain Walter Kidd who was sent off late on.

The depth of talent at Pittodrie was shown as striker Eric Black had been sensationally dropped by Alex Ferguson after he intimated that he was moving to France in the summer. Once again Aberdeen had risen to the occasion as their love affair with the Scottish Cup continued.

It was however to be Sir Alex’s last trophy as Aberdeen manager as he would leave for Manchester United later that year.

Two glorious season’s never to be forgotten.

1985/86 Scottish Cup Final
At Hampden Park 10th May 1986
Aberdeen 3:0 Hearts
Scorers; Hewitt 2, Stark

Aberdeen; Leighton, McKimmie, McQueen, McMaster, McLeish, W Miller, Hewitt, Cooper, McDougall, Bett, Weir. Subs used; Stark, J Miller.
Attendance; 62,841


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