Nineteen Eighty-Three

There are many defining moments in our lives, some change the entire world and some, no less historic events for ourselves, that no one else will ever know about. This is somewhere in between.

It’s Aberdeen and it’s 1983. If you were there you probably already know what I’m talking about, if you know Scottish football then you really should know. To set the scene I’ve never been a big follower of football myself, in fact the closest I’ve come in many years now is only the retelling of an old, old joke of mine when asked: “Who do you support?”, self-deprecatingly I’ll reply “I’m not really a football fan – I follow Aberdeen”.

Despite this seeming disinterest one of the most memorable set of events during my childhood was football related. It’s difficult for me as a non-fan to convey the level of success Aberdeen FC had during the early eighties — in my memory it feels similar to if Scotland had won the recent World Cup. They kept winning games against teams and in tournaments that felt far grander than the wee small town I lived in tucked away up in the chilly North East corner of Scotland.

European Cup Winners Cup

European Cup Winners Cup Aberdeen FC on an open top bus heading down King Street with the European Cup Winners Cup.

Photo Credit: HT Mitchell

I don’t recall much about the football itself, what I remember vividly is living in a city that was almost entirely behind the local team when they were doing well. Aberdeen was fortunate in this respect with a single top league team there was no division, no rivalry within the city itself and I guess things were different back then, people simply followed the local team: there was no marketing of “superclub” brands from down South to buy into and “steal” support from the local teams.

This all meant that the success of the football team infused the entire city (Helped no doubt by plentiful oil money at the time!) but for me as a young boy it was Aberdeen FC that were responsible.  The city, our city, my city felt like it was the best in the world, the sense of achievement was tangible, the sense of optimism was everywhere, anything seemed possible. There was a real sense that the world was going to be a great place, we were going to make sure of that. But then maybe all children feel like that for a while when they’re growing up?

Also Scottish Cup Winners

Also Scottish Cup Winners Alex Ferguson and the Aberdeen footbal team on an open top bus to parade the Scottish Cup along Union Street in 1983

Photo Credit: HT Mitchell

This blog post is the first in (hopefully!) a series about Aberdeen: local history, favourite places and personal memories.

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