In a new series, Aberdeen Mad contributor CalumGilhooly goes back in time to share his view of some classic Dons matches.

Dons_Ipsw_progAberdeen vs Ipswich Town
UEFA Cup 1st Round second leg
30th September 1981

Back in 1981, Aberdeen returned to European competition after being given a bit of lesson the previous season by then English champions Liverpool.

The task wasn't made any easier when the draw was made for the 1981-82 UEFA Cup first round and the Dons were paired with holders Ipswich Town.

Ipswich back then were one of the top sides in England, with Terry Butcher, John Wark, Paul Mariner and the Dutch double act of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen amongst the talent manager Bobby Robson could call on.

Aberdeen had the advantage of playing the away leg first, and came away from Portman Road with a very creditable 1-1 draw, thanks to a goal from young Hewitt.

For the return at Pittodrie, Ipswich manager Robson had made it clear that Alex Ferguson's side could not repeat their first leg efforts and the Scots side were there for the taking.

Ferguson had other ideas though and picked a full-strength side, with Hewitt up front alongside McGhee in a 4-4-2 formation.

In front of a sell-out crowd, both sides started well but Aberdeen made the breakthrough thanks to an error from Scotland cap Wark, who brought down Gordon Strachan inside the box after the Ipswich man had lost possesion in a dangerous area. Strachan, so deadly from the spot, made no mistake to put the Dons 1-0 in front.

Just after the half hour mark, the English side were level.

Ipswich striker Gates won a penalty after being fouled in the box and Wark made up for his earlier mistake by equalising from 12 yards. 1-1.

The tie was now perfectly placed at the half time break, Ipswich knowing that one more goal would be enough. Unfortunately for them, they didn't count on Peter Weir.

To be fair, Weir hadn't set the heather on fire since his record-breaking move from St Mirren in the summer, but his time was now. 10 minutes into the second half, Weir went on a 'mazy' down the left hand side before cutting in and firing low into the corner of the net.

Sensing something special was about to happen, the packed out stadium roared the Dons on. It was a new experience for me, as a 10-year-old the season before, the full house for the visit of Liverpool was subdued early on thanks to McDermott's goal, and the remainder of the game seemed a bit flat. This time though, a year on, and the outcome was to be oh so different.

The Dons played confidently, Watson and Cooper in the middle of the park in particular not giving the more experienced midfield of Ipswich a moment's peace, and with just five minutes to go Weir again took the roof off. In what was a carbon copy of his first, he turned England international full back Mick Mills inside out before firing the all-important third goal.


No way back now for Ipswich, but there was still time for more drama, as the Dons were awarded another spot kick in the final minute only for Paul Cooper to save Strachan's retaken effort.

It was the night that Alex Ferguson's team had finally arrived on the European stage. From that point on, nothing would be quite the same.

Dons line-up: Leighton, Kennedy, Rougvie, Watson, McLeish, Miller, Strachan, Cooper, McGhee, Hewitt, Weir
Subs used: Simpson, Bell