One of only three clubs in Scotland never to be relegated from the top flight and the only club in Scotland to win two European trophies it’s fair to say Aberdeen Football Club stands on its own two feet when it comes to history, honours and success.
Managers have come and gone, form has swung back and forth and players have been bought and sold throughout Aberdeen’s history but one thing has remained the same – Pittodrie stadium. The 22,000 now all seated stadium has been there every step of the clubs journey. A faithful fortress, a home to the ghosts of time, an eternal witness of the astounding highs and the all too often lows but most importantly a home that Aberdeen Football Club may be leaving behind for pastures new.
If a new proposal is to be accepted the Dons may be playing their matches at a new stadium on the shores of Loirston Loch. The £38 million development proposal which includes a 21,000 seat stadium, which will be lit at night with a red glow, has been recommended for approval by the council’s head of planning Margaret Bochel who insisted the stadium “would bring significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the whole community of Aberdeen and the North East.”
There is no doubt the idea of a new state of the art stadium is one that excites the supporter. However amongst the glamour and excitement there is the tough decision of ending the old alliance with the stadium that has raised the club from birth. For many supporters an emotional farewell to Pittodrie looms large. The new replacing the old, but the glorious history of Pittodrie will never be forgotten.
The original Aberdeen Football team was formed in 1881 when a meeting was organised by three local teachers, the meeting was a success and a new club was born. The newly appointed club secretary was instructed to buy a ball, an inflator and eleven maroon jerseys – a far cry from the £38 million stadium proposal.
It was not until 1903 that the Aberdeen F.C we know today was officially formed when a proposed merger between three local clubs was accepted – this new side would play their games at Pittodrie Park. Over the years those who went to watch the “Dons” at Pittodrie would be treated with plenty of domestic success and European glory unrivalled by any Scottish club. Perhaps the most notable era is that of Alex Ferguson – who enjoyed a managerial career with Aberdeen which brought in an astounding 11 trophies in the space of seven years, including the European super cup, three league championships and four Scottish cups.
But it wasn’t just the managers who brought this success. The crowds who witnessed the Aberdeen glory years at Pittodrie watched as their team entertained week after week thanks to some of the best players to ever grace Scottish Football.
It’s fair to say the nostalgia can serve the Dons supporter in two ways. On one hand it can take them back to a time of trophies and champagne where they can bask in the memories of years gone by. However it can also serve as a reminder of just how far they have fallen from grace – an unforgiving reality.
The league cup win in 1995/96 may seem like a lifetime ago, the reality being that for a club with such potential and history they should be competing for more trophies, which sadly is not the case. The recent spell under the managerial guidance of Mark McGhee is one which is regarded as a case of “sooner forgotten the better” for Aberdeen Football Club. The appointment of Craig Brown and Archie Knox has shown to provide a drastic improvement on the pitch and off as club Captain Paul Hartley insisted “the mood has been lifted”.
As the club enters a new era under Brown and Knox it is important to mention that Aberdeen bosses do not want to leave Pittodrie stadium. They would rather have stayed put and developed the already existing building. However they eventually accepted the fact that this was not possible due to the age of the building and the restrictions posed by surrounding areas. The ball therefore began to roll on the idea of a new stadium, in a new location.
Plans for the new stadium look superb. I’m sure opinion is divided between supporters. Clichés such as “we have to move with the times” will no doubt be countered by stubborn loyal to Pittodrie supporters. Both parties have a strong case for either outcome but if the proposal goes ahead Aberdeen fans will have the newest, perhaps best looking stadium in the country that they can all be proud of.
Opinion among a lot of the Aberdeen supporters is that Pittodrie is on its knee’s and it is as drab as the football has been there for a number of years. For many it is time to revitalize Aberdeen Football Club and get behind the move.
With League form this season lacking any consistency Aberdeen will be looking to emulate their Scottish cup glory of yesteryear this season and treat Pittodrie, its faithful servant, with some silverware before the turnstiles close forever.