20 Years On Part 1 - 'So Bye Bye Aberdonian Pie'
Til the Ullevi wis dry
The Beach End Boys were drinkin whiskey and rye
Singin this'll be the day that I die
A wee bit o bastardising o Don McLean's Karaoke classic there. Course the original refers tae the effect o the death o Buddy Holly n'at on the aforementioned Mr McLean as a young pimply youth. The departure of the then simply Alexander Chapman Ferguson to Old Trafford had a similar effect on ma good self.
Now we'd been used tae Fergie bein linked wi every job under the sun...the Buns (twice), Wolves, Spurs, Barca had all come, had a sniff and all been given the Spanish Archer. We had a single Bun in oor class, this being late 1986 and at the time the only kids in the North East who admitted to being Buns were the one in the 'Special Needs' or, as we referred tae them in those un-PC days, 'The Spazi Class'. Though a few months and a title later and ye couldnae move for the f*ckers, and at least you could ask this one who Cammy Fraser and Ally Dawson were and he wouldnae glaze over...but that's another rant.
Anyway the class's resident trained monkey came back fae lunch and declared that Fergie had gone to Man U. He was told in no uncertain terms tae f*ck off (he had previous for declarin Fergie departure) and if I recall correctly given a sound thrashing for his heresy.
I still refused to believe it boarding the bus hame...it was only when I saw the billboard for the Evening (who still employed real journalists in them halcyon days, nae Fat ex-postie scabs pretending tae be) screaming 'FERGIE LEAVES'...even then I managed to convince masel it was obviously something tae dae wi thon Ginger bint who'd just married Prince Andrew and nothing to do wi what the Spazi Hun had telt us.
Alas confirmation finally came on North Tonight...though I have to admit holding out some hope that Reporting Scotland would rubbish it...alas even they had the same footage o Fergie getting out of motor at a ground that didnae look like Pittodrie and holding a Red and White scarf above his head that didnae say 'Aberdeen FC' on it....got tae admit I was devastated. Nae 'death in the family' devastated but probably as near tae it as I've ever been. He was gone never tae return and Archie Knox was to take over in a caretaker position.
Now I'm nae gonna waste ma time detailing Alex Ferguson's achievements wi Aberdeen fitba club...if you need to be told that you really shouldnae be reading this and I'm not gonna spend any time on how he's transformed Man U from the greatest pub team into the word to the money making and trophy winning behemoth it is today.
Suffice to say as Fergie himself said when he arrived at Todders: 'They believed they could climb Everest in their slippers'. Well wi Fergie in charge we not only proved we could, we also went and did K2 in a pair o flip flops and a rather flimsy dressing gown. As Hugh McIllvaney put it, Aberdeen FC under Ferguson was one of fitba's greatest ever fairy tales.
Fergie's greatest gift to us was a mentality, one of his first acts was to remove all the mentions of 'Runners Up' from the club's honours list (to this day you winna find any references to, say, being runners up in a pre-season tournament listed under 'Trophies Won') and that the best way to beat the OF on a regular basis was to do unto them as they'll do unto you, because for all the whingin about Willie Miller being a referee, he and his teammates were only doing what the John Greigs and Billy McNeils had being doing for generations...as Clive Dunn might say: 'They don't like it up 'em!'
Throw in his patented 'Siege Mentality' about the entire Scottish Fitba establishment conspiring against us, which on occasion was not entirely without basis, and growing up being a Red was intoxicating. When we claimed we were 'by far the greatest team the world has ever seen', we meant it and had the baubles to back it up....sure we all had English teams like Man U, Spurs, Leeds, Boro (ok that was just me) but they were all our 'wee teams'...perhaps best proved by the fact that Fergie took a paycut when joined Man U!
Alas, these days I cannae see kids in schoolyards in the Republic and Shire having fisty fights over who was gonna be Darren Mackie in the breaktime kick-about as we once did over who was gonna be Gordon Strachan (this was skillfully resolved by one of us being Strachan in the home kit, the other in the away and the other yin as Strachan for Scotland).
And that's the thing in the North East during the Fergie era: it seemed everyone growing up was Red...I mind our English teacher saying whilst she was happy there were so many Reds in her class (textbooks in her class were to be covered in plain brown paper unless it was AFC related...she had a rather bizarre and some may say perverted obsession wi Willie Miller's knees), she was disappointed with our lack of originality as during one of those 'get the kids to write a letter to someone famous' type competitions, with the exception of the aforementioned Bun every lad's one had begun: 'Dear Mr Ferguson...'
And that for me is Fergie's legacy to our club...US.
An entire generation of fans who grew up without a forelock tugging inferiority complex about the OF...we could kick their asses on and off the park...we to this day refuse to be shoehorned into any convenient 'Mini Hun/Tims' bracket...we're unique with our different mentality...we were and are the famous Aberdeen! Scotland's Number 1! And woe betide any mother f*cker who crossed us. As a result Pittodrie now has the most vibrant and creative terrace culture in Scotland, which, whilst often derided originally, is almost always imitated shortly afterwards by everyone else.
When Willie recently 'sent up the balloon' as they say regarding giving the OF the entire South Stand there was horror and revulsion. Sure we understood the economics and financial aspect of it and yes, while it may be cutting off our nose to spite our face, giving up our Curva to that filth would be the final indignity and completely unacceptable for Reds of my generation...our pride just couldnae handle it.
I don't expect to see us repeat the glories of the Fergie era in my life time...what I do expect though is the team and club to aspire to the standards set in those halcyon days and to do the best they can. Far too often in the past 20 years this has simply not been the case and I make no apologies for telling them so.
Of course this has been misinterpreted and twisted by the Weegia (and on an increasingly regular basis by our local media too)...yep folks, the reason Aberdeen FC have achieved little in the post-Fergie era isnae bad management...it isnae piss poor players...it isnae even catastrophic decisions in the board room....
Naw, it's me and you just turning up on a regular basis and expecting something a little more than passable competence (though for long spells even that's been at a premium).
Now it has often been said that we've judged and hung every single manager who's followed in Fergie's footsteps for failing to match his achievement. That's lazy journalism, because we havenae (and truth be telt Fergie wisnae our greatest loss in 1986 but I'll come back to that later...though an Red worth their salt will ken fah ahm on about already), so just for the sake of argument in Part 2 we'll have a look at the numpties and muppets who've followed our Greatest Ever Boss and attempt to set Bill Leckie and any other tube who bangs on about the 'Pittodrie Poisoned Chalice' straight...though to be honest the website 'MyDonsHell' does the same thing far, far better.
Oh and I suppose I'd better give the usual plug for Stan.D.Fred's Macho Bananas...if ye've got ony memories o the day Fergie left us...or as usual if you think I've bin talkin oot ma Archie McPherson...post your comments on the messageboard.
The Red Avenger