Aberdeen is the third most populous city in the Scotland. It is a lively urban center and from character strong, forged by one of the most important ports of North Sea. It is no coincidence that it is nicknamed the City of Granite, also thanks to the material (extracted from local quarries) with which many of his are built buildings. At the end of the seventies you need just one innovative personality and granite to break the duopoly Rangers-Celtic which is in force in the Scottish league (twenty titles of the last twenty-four have gone to Catholics or Protestants of Glasgow). And this is precisely the figure that the Aberdeen executives identify and choose in the summer of 1978. He is a former forward who coached the club. St. Millen in the last three seasons, born almost 37 years earlier (December 31, 1941) a Govan, a small district of the city of Glasgow. Is called Alexander Chapman Ferguson.
Big things are not asked of him. Among the leaders of the Dons there are no “big claims”. But Ferguson is ambitious and eager to write history. He wants to overturn that roll of honor that Aberdeen only occupied in 1955. The first season is acclimatization (fourth in the standings at -8 from the top), but the second is already the turning point. It is 1979/80. The year was lived under the radar and in pursuit of Celtic Glasgow. Constantly waiting for the screw to turn the right way. The decisive moment comes with four days to go. At Celtic Park the Dons dominate three to one thanks to goals from Archibald, McGhee e Strachan. The theater of the festivities instead is Edinburgh, against the Hibernian. The final classification reads: Aberdeen 48, Celtic 47.
The terrain of conquest, however, becomes another. And the Scottish Cup, the third national competition. Two consecutive victories solidify the cycle of Ferguson. Both arrived against the Rangers Glasgow. In 1981/82 the Gers are beaten four to one. Twelve months later for one to zero, at the end of an uncertain challenge, blocked, suffered, resolved only in the last seconds of the additional from the header of Eric Black. One of the great protagonists of the first seasonal title, obtained ten days earlier in the most unexpected setting, the European one.
It is 11 May 1983. At the stadium “Ullevi” from Goteborg the atmosphere couldn’t be more Scottish. Heavy rain, humidity and a field on the edge of practicability. It is in this context that Ferguson’s team is called to play its first European final in history. And the Cup Winners’ Cup. In front of an opponent apparently out of reach: the Real Madrid say Camacho, Juanito, Santillana and led by Alfredo Di Stefano. Aberdeen is the revelation of manifestation. Sion, Dinamo Tirana, Lech Poznan and Waterschei Thor (in the semifinals) were overcome with relative ease. The real feat is accomplished in the quarter-finals against Bayern Monaco. After zero to zero in Bavaria, the Scots manage to win three to two at Pittodrie Stadium after being twice behind. A match full of twists and turns and decided in the space of 120 seconds, between the 76th and the 78th minute. Before McLeish find the par, then Hewitt (entered just three minutes) pounced on a weak rebound from the German goalkeeper Muller and takes Aberdeen to the semifinals.
But Real Madrid is something else. It is a club that already has 20 leagues, 6 Champions Cups and 1 Cup on its showcase Intercontinental. To beat him you need to raise the bar further. We need a perfect match. That’s what Alex Ferguson asks of his folks. It is the one that the Scots they put before the eyes of the 18,000 who arrived on Swedish soil. The beginning is indeed a surprising dominance in the sign of Black. The number ten first hits a crossbar and then scores the one to zero with a close touch after a mistake by Juan Joseph. Just eight minutes of play have passed. The draw of Juanito on a penalty seven minutes later it’s just a flash in the pan. The Dons are well placed on the pitch and concede nothing more, controlling and dominating Real Madrid with one safety anomalous, worthy of a veteran team of international football. When McGhee he goes to the left with only seven minutes left in extra time. His cross for John Hewitt is perfect, the exit of Agustin no. It’s the final two to one.
All finished? Not at all. Seven months after the captain Willie Miller also raises the sky to the sky Super Cup European. This time it’s theHamburg (winner of the Champions Cup against Juventus by Trapattoni e Platini) to yield by two to zero. Simpson and McGhee have made Aberdeen into Scotland’s most successful international team. A label still valid today. Successes across borders turn into a impulse uncontrollable. Ferguson’s Aberdeen becomes the home team of Scotland. The city of Glasgow it is no longer the center of Scottish football. In the league, in 1983/84, the points advantage over Celtic are seven. In the Scottish Cup comes the third consecutive success. Opponents: again the Catholics of Glasgow. The rivalry between the Dons and the Celts is renewed also the following year, always with the same outcome. Still with seven points of advantage.
By now Ferguson is one of the most in demand coaches in Europe. But he doesn’t want to leave without the only national trophy he misses: the League Cup. The void is filled in the 1985/86 season. Against theHibernian Eric Black (with two goals) and Billy Stark take care of it. The last absolute success, however, is once again in the Scottish Cup. Three to zero at theHeart of Midlothian. It is the number 10 title in just eight years of management. For Ferguson it is the last act. The time has come to leave. The Manchester United he’s waiting for him to make him one of the biggest and most influential coaches ever. But that’s another story.