Between The Wars

Last updated : 01 July 2022 By Aberdeen Mad


Senior football returned to the north-east of Scotland on 16 August 1919, The Dons (as they had been known since 1913) resuming with a fixture against Albion Rovers. Philip was still in charge, and continued to oversee a team capable of isolated good results, but never quite able to sustain a challenge long enough to win a trophy.

In 1923, Aberdeen were drawn against Peterhead in the Scottish Cup, and posted their record score – a 13–0 victory. The game took place in torrential rain, and it is recorded that the Aberdeen goalkeeper, Harry Blackwell, played in a waterproof coat, and spent at least part of the game sheltered under a spectator's umbrella.

Philip retired in 1924, and was replaced as manager by Paddy Travers. Traver's Aberdeen sides were no more successful than his predecessor's, but he did preside over the team's first Scottish Cup final in 1937, as well as two close-season tours to South Africa, the second of which, soon after the Cup final defeat ended in tragedy when outside-right Jackie Benyon died of peritonitis.

In November 1931, Travers unexpectedly dropped a number of first team regulars, none of whom played for the club again. It wasn't until the publication of the club's official history in the 1970s that it became clear that there had been a suspicion of a betting scandal; no action was taken against any player at the time.

Travers' trainer (first team coach in modern parlance) was a former player and fans' favourite, Donald Colman. Colman was regarded as a brilliant and innovative thinker about football, and one of his inventions remains a standard part of many football grounds to this day. Colman believed in studying players' feet as they played, and conceived the 'dug-out', a covered area set slightly below the level of the playing surface to better aid his observations. Everton visited Pittodrie soon after its introduction, and exported the idea to the English leagues, from where it spread throughout the football-playing world.

Travers left to become manager of Clyde in 1939, and was replaced by Dave Halliday. Halliday went to his ex club Queen of the South to sign inside forward George Hamilton. This would be as shrewd a signing as Halliday would ever make. However Halliday had barely begun his work when the Second World War halted competitive football in the United Kingdom.