AFC Archives | Aberdeen v Dundee
Over 2,000 Aberdeen fans will travel to Dundee on Saturday night to watch one of the oldest and originally one of the biggest fixtures in Scottish Football calendar.
The ‘North-east’ derby between the two sides can be traced back as far as the Dons’ formation in 1903, many years before city rivals Dundee United came into being. It was really only Dundee’s relegation in 1976 that brought United into the picture as Aberdeen and, then United enjoyed great success in the in the new league format in the 1980s.
By tradition, the Aberdeen v Dundee fixture was always the one that grabbed the attention long before the inception of the Premier League in 1975. Dundee were regular visitors to Aberdeen even before 1903 and it is well documented that the Dens Park club openly backed and heavily supported Aberdeen’s bid to become members of the Scottish League. Dundee lobbied the powers that be back then in support of Aberdeen as they described “The last outpost in Scotland with a large population base without senior football”.
The Red Matchday team take a look back at a fixture that has given us some great moments down the years …
The early years
A three-club amalgamation in April 1903 that saw the present Aberdeen FC come into being. Previously the clashes between the original Aberdeen, Orion and Victoria United had all the meaty ingredients that you would expect from a local derby. The major factor in the new Aberdeen club being formed was the realisation that had they not, and then entry into the mainstream of Scottish football may never have happened. Due to the remote geographical location, Aberdeen were told by the Scottish league that a combined effort from the best local sides would be required to maintain a place in top flight of the game. It is ironic that one of the main supporters behind the Aberdeen cause was indeed Dundee. The Tayside club had long been rivals with various Aberdeen sides through the years but they were very much in support of Aberdeen being admitted into the top league.
The following extract from the ‘Dundee Post’ on 21st Feb 1903 confirmed their stance; “The question of amalgamating the three city clubs has been agitating the minds of the football public in Aberdeen. It is likely that Aberdeen will be included as a league member next season. The Aberdeen committee has been soliciting help from other member clubs and Dundee were the first to pledge their support. The Dundee club agreed that a strong Aberdeen club would benefit the game in Scotland and publicly backed the Aberdeen claims.”
It was on the back of that support that Aberdeen did eventually gain admission into the league initially in 1903 and their entry into the First Division two years later. Prior to that Aberdeen had forged a keen rivalry with Dundee and the Dens Park side were frequent visitors to the north east long before the first competitive clash in 1905. Indeed only three weeks after Aberdeen FC were formed on 14th April 1903, Dundee travelled north to play what was described as an Aberdeen XI on 4th May 1903.
The Aberdeen side was ‘picked from the three local senior teams; Aberdeen, Orion and Victoria’. The report at the time suggested that traditional holiday fixtures were not the most keenly anticipated but that was certainly not the case when Dundee travelled north due to “Dundee’s friendly attitude towards the aspirations of the Aberdonians in seeking admission for an amalgamated team in the First Division of the Scottish league.” Even with the new Aberdeen club now into being, this was their first ‘combined’ outing as such and it was fitting that Dundee were their first opponents. Aberdeen certainly turned the occasion into a gala day with the Oakbank Pipe band welcoming the teams onto the field. Despite the heavy rain a crowd of 3,000 turned out to see Aberdeen eventually go down 4-1 to an experienced Dundee side that played their entire first team. Charlie Mackie scored the Aberdeen goal after 10 minutes as the “First Leaguers failed to rise above the Aberdeen standard” in the opening part of the game as Aberdeen held on to their lead by half time. Dundee changed their approach in the second period and dominated the home side for long spells and ran out comfortable winners. The teams on that historic day were;
ABERDEEN; Ritchie, Walker, McHardy, Willox, A Murray, Robertson, Knowles, C Mackie, Lindsay, Henderson, Hogg.
DUNDEE; Muir, Darroch, Sharp, Halkett, P Robertson, McDiarmid, Bell, White, Wilson, McFarlane, T Robertson.
When Aberdeen were finally admitted into the top flight of the Scottish game in 1905, the first “Northern Derby” took place at Dens Park on 18th November. With both teams sharing almost identical records going into the game, not many observers would have predicted what became known as “Dons Day of Disaster” as they were hammered 6-0 by Dundee.
The game had been very much anticipated by the Aberdeen support and one Caldedonian train had the engine ‘dressed’ in black and gold along with two North British special trains carrying more than 1200 Aberdeen supporters to the game; at the princely sum of three shillings (15p) a head. No doubt the shock of such a heavy defeat was a huge blow to what was only Aberdeen’s first season in the top league. It might have been different had the visitors not had to play for 80 minutes with ten men after Alex Halkett limped off injured in the opening minutes. Aberdeen used Gault in a withdrawn role which exposed right back Boyle to Dundee’s quicker forwards.
It also emerged later that Aberdeen travelled without rubber studs and they were far from prepared for the frost bound pitch that greeted them on arrival. There was no respite for the Aberdeen team that day as they arrived back at Aberdeen Joint Station to a hostile reception from some of their support. The teams on that eventful day were;
DUNDEE; Muir, McKenzie, Jeffray, Henderson, Dainty, McDiarmid, Bell, MacFarlane, Webb, McLuckie, Fraser.
ABERDEEN; Macfarlane, Boyle, Gault, Halkett, Strang, Low, Robertson, Edgar, Ward, MacAulay, Lennie.
Aberdeen had to wait until 1912 before recording their first league win at Dens Park. On 24th August the Black & Golds were flying high in a 3-0 win before a huge 20,000 crowd at Dens. William Milne, making his first team debut for Aberdeen scored both goals for the visitors.
The post war years
There was a time when Dundee could attract a top Aberdeen player to Dens Park in what was seen at the time as progression. The transfer of Aberdeen wonder boy Charlie Cooke in 1965 was perhaps a hammer blow for the Dons but back then Dundee were a top side.
Aberdeen had slumped to mid table mediocrity after their success in the 1950s while the Dens Park side were league champions in 1962 and had also reached the semi-final of the European Cup a year later. While Aberdeen still looked upon the advantage of being a one-club city, they had reached a low point in their history with a succession of cup failures and struggling to make an impact in the league.
Dundee for their part dominated the support on Tayside with neighbours United far removed from the status they now hold in Dundee. The fact that the Dens Park club were the prominent side in Dundee, it was often reflected in some of the classic matches between the Dons and Dundee in what was always the traditional North-east derby fixture.
The traditional New Year clashes began in 1952 and continued through until Dundee were relegated from the first Premier League in 1975. That first meeting at Dens Park on 1st January 1952 resulted in a 3-2 win for the Dark Blues as an injury hit Aberdeen held out for long periods but eventually went down to a strong Dundee side. A year later a much-anticipated visit from Dundee saw tempers flare as Aberdeen controversially clawed back a two-goal deficit. The reports of ‘over-robust tackling’ were spot on as a bruising encounter saw Aberdeen fall behind to a Bobby Flavell brace. Ian Rodger pulled one back for the Dons in 64 minutes before Harry Yorston’s equaliser in 74 minutes produced a raised flag by the linesman which was ignored by referee Jackson much to the disgust of the visitors.
In 1954 when the teams met, it was a top of the table clash at Dens Park. The game went in favour of Dundee after an injury to Jackie Allister. Eventually the Dons went down to the sublime skills of Billy Steel who went on to enjoy success in England despite an Aberdeen record bid to take the Scottish international to Pittodrie.
When Aberdeen won the championship in 1955 they recorded an impressive double over Dundee. At Dens Park in September 1954 goals from Archie Glen and Joe O’Neil gave Aberdeen a deserved win. Later that season a Bob Wishart goal was enough to give Aberdeen victory as they remained clear at the top of the league. In 1955.56 the Dons did the double again over Dundee with a 2-0 win at Pittodrie followed by an impressive 4-2 win at Dens in the New Year. Aberdeen were in free scoring form back then as they racked up an incredible 24 goals from four league matches over the New Year period.
In 1958 despite Aberdeen falling from grace in the league, they won both matches against the Dark Blues. Norman Davidson scored twice in a 3-0 at Pittodrie while two late goals in the Dens Park return gave the Dons a 2-1 victory on 1st January 1958.
In season 1960.61 the Dons held Dundee at Dens in a thrilling 3-3 draw. Although Alan Gilzean hit a hat trick for Dundee, a late Billy Little goal gave Aberdeen a point. In the return at Pittodrie the Dons won 2-1 in what was a significant result. Aberdeen under Tom Pearson were a young side and were surprising league title contenders. Pittodrie’s highest attendance of the season saw George Mulhall score the winner for the Dons. After the match Aberdeen stalwart Bob Wishart was transferred to Dundee. It was all change as Dundee had evolved into a side of great stature and Bob Wishart went to win a title medal with the Dens Park side. While Aberdeen beat Dundee in their championship season with a 3-1 win at Pittodrie in September, it was soon to change as by the time Aberdeen returned for the winter game at Dens, Dundee were runaway league leaders and edged Aberdeen out in a 2-1 win.
In September 1962 Dundee hammered Cologne 8-1 in the European Cup in what was regarded as the finest side ever to grace Dens Park. However three days later they could not get the better of visitors Aberdeen whose Charlie Cooke scored an exquisite lob as reports suggested his goal was ‘one in a million’. In the return at Pittodrie, Bob Wishart was on his old stamping ground in the dark blue of Dundee but he could not prevent Aberdeen going on to win through an Ernie Winchester goal.
Charlie Cooke was then included in the Dundee side that were held by Aberdeen in a 1-1 draw in January 1965, much to the dismay of the dwindling Aberdeen support in the poor 8,000 New Year crowd.
It was not until the arrival of Eddie Turnbull at Pittodrie that saw the Dons resurgence and that was reflected in games against their old rivals. In January 1967 Aberdeen hit Dundee in a 5-2 win that heralded the Dons as a side of real quality, as they held on to second place behind leaders Celtic with European football now on the horizon for the Dons for the first time.
The Aberdeen v Dundee traditions continued throughout both world wars and through to what proved to be a watershed moment in Scottish football with reconstruction in 1975. Until that point the Dons traditional derby had always been against the Dens Park side with the traditional New Year Derby being played at Pittodrie and Dens Park on alternate years as both sides became well known “First Foots” to bring in the New Year.
Northern Derby makes way for New Firm
The first ever Premier League game between Aberdeen and Dundee was at Dens Park on 30th August 1975 as the new 10-team set up began with Dundee edging Aberdeen out in a 3-2 win. Bobby Ford of Dundee had the distinction of scoring the first ever goal in the Premier League after two minutes.
It is significant that in the first season of the top ten in 1975.76 any one of three clubs could have joined already doomed St Johnstone to relegation as Aberdeen, Dundee and Dundee Utd went into the final game knowing that defeat could have been certain relegation. As it turned out it was Dundee who took the drop and the traditional ‘Northern Derby’ would make way for the ‘New Firm’.
In the league Aberdeen and Dundee have met on 214 occasions. Aberdeen have won 107 drawn 66 and lost 41. 368 goals have been scored and 234 conceded. Of the goals scored, Benny Yorston and Niall McGinn have both netted ten times in the league against the dark blues. Niall has an incredible record against Dundee, 10 goals and two assists in 16 games. He also scored a hat-trick at Dens in December 2012.
The last time Dundee beat Aberdeen in the League was in December 2004, a 1-0 defeat at Dens. Since then the Dons have enjoyed 16 wins and five draws.
They have won the last 12 league games in a row. This included the famous 7-0 win in March 2017
The Dark Blues last tasted victory at Pittodrie on 15th May 2004 when goals from Steven Milne and ex-Don Steve Lovell gave them a 2-1 win. A 17-year-old named Andrew Considine made his debut for the Dons that day.
The last time the sides met in league was in April 2019. 6,593 fans watched on, with 2,297 members of the Red Army in attendance. There was not much quality from either side in the first half. But after the break Aberdeen slowly got on top and Lewis Ferguson did well to win a penalty on 59 minutes which Sam Cosgrove comfortably converted. On 77 minutes fine play by McLennan set up Cosgrove who fired home from close range. After that Aberdeen completely dominated and Dundee keeper Seny Dieng had a number of fine saves to keep the score down.
The teams that day were:
DUNDEE; Dieng, Kerr, McGowan, O’Dea (Kusunga 38), Ralph, O’Sullivan, Robson, Moore (Nelson 68), Curran, McGowan, Curran (Miller 71). Unused Subs: Kusunga, Parish, Dales, Hadenius, Horsfield.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Ball, McKenna, Considine, Lowe, Ferguson (Gleeson 66), Shinnie, McGinn, Stewart (May 82), McLennan (Ross 87), Cosgrove. Unused Subs: Wilson, Devlin, Halford, Cerny
A fascinating facet of the Aberdeen Dundee connection is the inarguable fact that an impressive number of players have turned out for both Aberdeen and Dundee. Around 50 players have achieved this and we have also shared one manager with another three at the Pittodrie helm who had played for Dundee. The list includes Bobby Ancell (Wartime), Ian Angus, Robert Connor, Charlie Cooke, Billy Dodds, Andy Dow, Willie Falconer, Jamie Langfield, Steve Lovell, Walker McCall, Stewart McKimmie, Jock Pattillo, Gavin Rae, Jocky Scott, Gordon Strachan, Stan Williams, Jimmy Wilson, Bobby Wishart, Nicky Low, Declan Gallagher amongst others.
The four managers that Dens Park produced for the Dons were David Halliday, followed by Jimmy Bonthrone and Jocky Scott, all of whom tasted some measure of success in the Granite City. Drew Jarvie also served both clubs in a management team with Jocky. And Craig Brown was a player at Dens when Dundee won the League title in 1961-62.
Halliday, who scored 100 goals for Dundee in four seasons, took up his Pittodrie post in 1938 but really counts as a post-war hero. He was the first manager to bring major silverware to Aberdeen, starting with the Southern League Cup (which we all know was the first League Cup) on 11th May 1946. His Dons followed up with the Scottish Cup in 1947 and took their first League Championship in 1954/55 coupled with a further League Cup success in October 1954. Halliday’s Aberdeen teams were the strongest and most successful that the Club was able to field before the Fergie era in the 1980s.
Jimmy Bonthrone started out his Pittodrie career as coach under Eddie Turnbull and took over the managerial mantle when Eddie moved on to Eater Road to manage Hibernian. Jimmy’s finest hour as boss came early, with the Dons beating Celtic at Pittodrie in a memorable Drybrough Cup final. Sadly things deteriorated gradually from there despite a tremendous League campaign in 71/72 and Jimmy stood down in 1975.
Perhaps the most memorable cross-over has been that of Jocky Scott, who was a terrific player for Dundee before being transferred to Aberdeen in the summer of 1975. He went on to play in 67 matches, scoring 22 goals, three of which came in the famous League Cup 5-1 hammering of Rangers in October 1976. Of course that match brought Jocky and the Dons to success in the Final that season so he picked up his first of three medals with Aberdeen that day. After his playing career came to an end, Jocky managed Dundee from 1986 to 1988 when he moved to Pittodrie along with Drew Jarvie to join Alex Smith in a co-managerial arrangement. The trio worked some magic and in 1989/90 Aberdeen won a memorable Cup double defeating Rangers 2-1 in the League Cup Final and Celtic in the Cup. After the Dons missed out on the League title on the last day of the 1990/91 season, Jocky decided to move on once more and took on the reins at Dunfermline. Later, though he had a second spell at Dens Park from 1998 to 2000 and more recently a third spell between 2008 and 2010. He then returned to Pittodrie as a strikers coach and worked alongside Craig Brown and Archie Knox. Jocky’s Dad Willie Scott also represented the Dons. During the Second World War, Willie was a prisoner of war in German, but continued playing football there.
We have mentioned his name quite a bit through this article.
When we talk about footballers of pure, unvarnished talent who have represented this football club, Charlie Cooke has to sit pretty high up on the list. Starting his career with the Dons, there was pandemonium among the support when he was sold to Dundee in December 1964, an indication of the real troubles Aberdeen were going through at the time.
He wasn’t on Tayside for too long though, for in April 1966 he was away to Stamford Bridge and the west end of London.
Tommy Docherty was busily rebuilding a new Chelsea side that would go on to be one of the best cup teams in England – and ultimately Europe – in particular and Charlie became one of the jewels in a side that would include the likes of Peter Osgood, Peter Bonetti, Alan Hudson, Bobby Tambling, Tony Hateley, Eddie McCreadie and John Hollins.
The measure of Cooke’s genius can be found in that date when he arrived in London – the spring of 1966, after the transfer deadline had passed. By the time he had made his First Division debut the following season, England had won the World Cup with Alf Ramsey’s “wingless wonders” and overnight, Charlie and his ilk became an endangered species.
Cooke took it all in his twinkling stride, and reinvented himself as someone who could play a deeper lying role on the right side of midfield if ever Chelsea were finding themselves under pressure. At home in particular though, Chelsea were a side that flooded forward and Cooke was given carte blanche to his express himself. He played a pivotal role in taking Chelsea to a first ever FA Cup final in 1967 – they lost 2-1 to Tottenham – but it was clear the Pensioners were the coming team in England.
They delivered on that promise in 1970, the infamous, but utterly thrilling FA Cup final with Leeds United that went to two games before Chelsea clinched the cup. Fellow Scot Eddie Gray won many of the plaudits in the first game at Wembley, but in the Old Trafford replay, Charlie turned the game with a perfectly placed cross 12 minutes from time. Osgood headed it in to earn extra-time and from there Chelsea went on to win the cup. That gave them entrance to the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following season and they fought their way past some tough opponents including CSKA Sofia, Club Brugge and the defending champions, Manchester City. It led to a final showdown with Real Madrid – sounds oddly familiar. Now operating as a playmaker in the centre of midfield in place of the injured Alan Hudson, using his full range of passing skills, Charlie orchestrated Chelsea’s opener, setting up Osgood to score. Real snatched a last minute equaliser to send the game to a replay two days later, but this time, Chelsea and Cooke would not be denied.
Two goals in six minutes set Chelsea on their way and ultimately, Real Madrid lost the European Cup Winners’ Cup final 2-1. Sounds oddly familiar…
The Chelsea side began to disintegrate thereafter, though there was one last hurrah as they reached the League Cup final in 1972, and though the Cooke-Osgood combination produced another goal, it was Stoke who won the game, 2-1. With Chelsea increasingly beset by financial problems as they sunk fortunes into redeveloping Stamford Bridge, the £85,000 offered for Charlie’s services by a struggling Crystal Palace was an offer they couldn’t refuse in October 1972 and Cooke was on his way to Selhurst Park. He enjoyed a return to Pittodrie in a friendly in 1973 but that was probably the highlight of his time there, as not even he could save them from relegation from the top flight though and in January 1974, Chelsea were able to lure him back for a fraction of the price.
Chelsea’s financial woes were translated onto the pitch by then and in 1974/75, they were relegated from the top flight. Cooke remained at the club and helped bring them back two seasons later, but by this time, like so many British footballers heading into their 30s, he had sampled life in the North American Soccer League during the summer and found it very much to his taste. He lined up for the Los Angeles Aztecs alongside George Best, the club part-owned by Elton John. They must have had some end of season parties…
Cooke later played for Memphis Rogues and California Surf as well as playing in the indoor game for Calgary Boomers, Cleveland Force and Dallas Sidekicks. From there, like so many of his contemporaries, he moved into coaching and set up his own soccer school in Cincinatti. Among those who was a big admirer of Charlie’s coaching methods was AFC Youth Academy coach Jim Crawford. Almost all the current group of youngsters coming through at Pittodrie worked with Jim at a very young age, where he worked solely on their individual skills and their feet movement.