question

I appreciate people don’t like negativity. Everyone loves the club, and wants everything to go well, including me. This is arguably the biggest decision in Aberdeen FC’s history. Surely it’s worth looking at. I think we are all aware in a Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson, Theresa May world, there are no journalists anymore, at any rate responsible ones. There are none who would ever question a super rich member of society who has a large advertising account for his company. Doesn’t mean he’s bad, but if he were, don’t expect the press, local or national to point it out.

This very insignificant blog, from this very insignificant supporter (albeit damned talented and a winning smile) can be read by a couple of hundred people, or sometimes several thousand. The two articles on the stadium are into several thousands each, and still being read. (specially for the Afc employee with the Mention account)

Doesn’t mean people agree with my concerns. And also I don’t want to be right. I want the new stadium to be a huge success, something we are all proud of and the match day experience to be so amazing we make plans to enlarge inside five years.

The comments on Facebook. Also interesting. Not one disagreeing with my calculations. Some insults. Some blind hope, some, let’s wait and see (aye cause we can put it back like an M&S jumper if we don’t like it), some beautifully trusting faith in Aberdeen Council and Aberdeen directors to have ‘sorted it all out’. Would you be interested in this snakeskin oil by any chance? And a brilliant, ‘it’s just part of being a real supporter’, as if getting to, or out of a game ought to be like an SAS survival course. Or you’re not a ‘real supporter’.

All I’ve done is tried to point out something that has concerned me all along in this process. I have watched and listened to the Aberdeen FC directors with keen interest. Whereby we got to see the other directors (pre Cormack) as spokespeople for the move for a while, (justifying changing a bulb in a floodlight as reason to move) as I guess it appeared they thought Stewartie fronting it may raise concerns? Then Stewartie was back to front it…

During communications the training facilities kept being interchanged with the stadium as if they were one and the same. Very few football clubs have their training facilities next to their stadium. The word ‘landlocked’ got dished out again and again. As I said in the first article, why weren’t we moving because we were ‘landlocked’ last time? Why has this word only come out of Pittodrie in the last eighteen months? Do a Google search on ‘Pittodrie landlocked’. See how far that phrase goes back. Aberdeen FC under Stewart Milne have been ‘moving’ for twenty odd years.

We’ve all in life spotted a liar when they change their story.

Doesn’t mean it’s a lie, but it could do with explaining. There were other odd comments. ‘Well it’s not the ideal place, but we’ll just have to get on with it’.

From the person who applied for planning permission!? Seriously, is no one else questioning that?!

There was another one along the lines of, in this area we need to be quiet and the building needs to be discreet to respect the neighbours.

Why in the mother of fuck would you put a fucking football stadium there then?! It’s not a new patio. It’s a football stadium. A focal point and place of pride for a city, a region, the whole north east of Scotland.

If you’re all happy great. If you live in Huntly, Inverness, Westhill, Arbroath or wherever and not only does it not affect you, but the journey will be better, brilliant. Fill yer boots. But it appears to me a very loyal, very important section of the Aberdeen FC support, that could be considerably bigger than the 3000 I guesstimated in my calculations are being thrown away.

The biggest decision in the history of Aberdeen Football Club. Location, location, location.

In the words of the late great Doris Day, Que Sera Sera…

I will not mention the new stadium or the decision making behind the new stadium, in any negative context ever again, forever and ever, so help me Willie Miller. Amen.

Part1: Cove Rangers and the end of being a one city team

Part 2: Parking the bus – The new stadium, how many, how long a wait?

bus-stop-sign
bus stop

Following the article on Cove Rangers and the new stadium, a good question appeared in the comments. ‘Just how many buses will be required?’

Let’s presume the same people are going to the new stadium. Let’s say a game against Hearts, Saturday 3pm. Fifteen thousand Aberdeen supporters. How many of those would not have their own transport, and would need to get back to Union Street, either to get to where they live in the city, or get to the train/bus station, or to begin Saturday night. How many might that be of the 15000 Aberdeen supporters?

Might it be 3000? I’d say that’s a conservative guess. It may well be more than double that.

How many people can you get in a double decker bus? I did a bit of Googling, and let’s say 100 people. That’s going to be one very uncomfortable journey for all concerned, but transport is transport, and a handy number for arithmetic.

That would be 30 buses needed immediately after a game, to move that section of the support quickly and efficiently. Are 30 buses going to be waiting outside the stadium after the game? Or more likely in my opinion, ten buses, planning to make three journeys shuttling the support back. How long after the final whistle will that third journey begin?

Google puts a car journey between Westhill and Union street at about 17 minutes. So enough time after the full time whistle to get to the buses, the first shuttle buses leave at 5pm. Let’s presume, rather optimistically, this bus doesn’t stop between the stadium and Union Street. Call it 20 minutes. A 5 minute turnaround, twenty more minutes, back to the stadium. Fifteen minutes to fill up that bus, 6pm the second shuttle buses leave, 75 minutes after the full time whistle. Same journey, back they come for the third shuttle journey. Leaving Kingswells at 7pm arriving on Union Street at 7.20pm. After you’ve waited in line (or you’ll lose your place) for how long after the match?

Now take all those figures, drop them into a midweek twenty thousand capacity game finishing at 9.15pm, in the dark, below freezing, and someone underestimated the crowd. How many buses will be there?

They gonna go back to the shiny new stadium? Would you ever run that risk again? As I said here, this element of the support is being thrown away, under the bus. A new stadium will have shiny new object syndrome for a bit, geographically it will be easier for others to get there, and get out. But the solid block from the city will be difficult to replicate. As will their loyalty. One nasty downturn in league form, a poor managerial choice, those new supporters going to hang around?

Only a fool would trust a multi-millionaire. There is a reason these people got so wealthy.

Part one here: Cove Rangers and the end of being a one city team

Part three: Questioning the narrative.

heart broken

I am of mixed North Eastness. I am an Aberdonian by birth, but also grew up in Huntly and Buckie, and watched a fair bit of Highland League football as well as visits to Pittodrie as a kid.

This far from unusual geographic background gives me a loyalty to the Dons, and to the Highland League, and gives me a pathological loathing of Cove Rangers that is possibly a little irrational.

When Cove applied to The Highland League I so hoped they wouldn’t get accepted. A team from Aberdeen wasn’t what The Highland League was about. They were clearly only going to use it as a stepping stone.

And here we are all those years later, Cove appear to be about to join the league. Just as Aberdeen are about to move their stadium. More than twice the distance that Cove’s stadium will be from Aberdeen city centre.

I came up with the slogan One City, One Team… Not that it matters, but if you look at the Facebook timeline of The Dandy Dons it appears about four years ago. One city, one team, two European Trophies. Just me arsing around.

But the one city, one team concept is incredibly important. Particularly when you see how Dundee is divided with their two teams. And here we have Cove Rangers, what began just a few years after Gothenburg, a football team created specifically to split the Aberdeen support, and coming to fruition just as the decades of mismanagement of Aberdeen FC are coming home to roost.

A swift search on Google Maps has a walk from Cove’s stadium to Union Street, at 56 minutes. And there are pubs on the route. It’s not going to games that is an issue. People arrive at staggered times. It’s leaving stadiums that needs to happen quickly and efficiently, where it may be very cold, and very wet.

Stand at the corner of King Street and Merkland Road after a game at Pittodrie and watch the crowd dissipate into the city after a match. Follow the crowd up to Union Street. Watch it thinning out bit by bit, until you get to Union Street and it merges into the city, into Union street, with all the bus stops, close to a train and bus station and disappears as if by magic.

Now at Kingswells there will not be enough buses waiting at the new stadium to transfer the city based crowd to Union Street. (or those who need to get to the train or bus station). There will be panic, there will be considerable numbers leaving the match early to get on those buses, there will be considerable numbers waiting for the buses to return for the next journey, or the one after. As the bus company needs to make money. It needs to have fewer drivers and buses ferrying people over a long period of time. A whole shift. And you can’t leave the queues as you’ll lose your place, and you can’t start the journey walking as it’s too far. You will only be overtaken by full buses.

Aberdeen FC are throwing a considerable section of the Aberdeen based support, under the bus.

Pittodrie is landlocked. Strange because when we were moving twenty years ago to Loirston, we were not landlocked. We were moving, much like St Mirren, St Johnstone and a number of English teams at the time, as our city centre property, had such high value. To sell that land would generate enough money for new land, AND the stadium build. Or close to it.

Well that changed. Pittodrie is worth less than twenty years ago. And may still be falling in value. Retail is dying, city centres no longer highly sought property areas. So they needed a new reason why Aberdeen FC had to move. And landlocked was, hmm, not sure what word to use here. When did you first hear the phrase ‘landlocked’ out of Pittodrie?

The falling value of Pittodrie also means the land around Pittodrie is falling in value. To purchase the land wouldn’t be expensive. Who wouldn’t AberDNA a Pittodrie rebuild stand by stand over a number of years. Because all property becomes available again eventually.

It’s as if some people watched Aberdeen V Real Madrid in 1983, and thought, how do I royally fuck that up.

A fascinating article here from 442 magazine on football clubs moving stadium. https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/how-build-new-stadium-those-who-have

Part 2: Parking the bus – The new stadium, how many, how long a wait?

Part 3: Questioning the narrative

Old Firm colt teams to be allowed to start in the SPFL.

Extra income, extra publicity, extra ‘golden fixtures’ The Old Firm derby 2, the sequel. 8 page Daily Record specials, boasts of ‘colt’ teams getting higher attendances than Premier League teams. An expansion of the franchise. Profits, profits, profits. Religious division. Anti football, anti sport, anti Scottish, anti society.

Scottish football: go right ahead.

Ah but football. It’s all about football. These players in our over inflated squads, being paid over inflated wages need a game. A competitive game. Because our squads are uncompetitive, because our philosophy of greed, greed, greed, means we must purchase all the talent around us. Now we demand the game is changed for us to maximise our already enormous income so we can always dominate. A fixed market. Neoliberalism.

No problem then. All proceeds from these games, to be re-distributed to grass roots football. ALL proceeds.

‘Hello league of Ireland. We have two colt teams looking for a league…’

‘We’ll only play away from home’, ‘we’re only doing it for football’. ‘The Scottish media are responsible enough not to allow them to get all the publicity…’

They will say anything to get it started. Stealthily moving the goalposts as it suits them.

Since when has football ever been of interest to either of the Old Firm.

*Old Firm – it does exist. If you accept there are three teams in it. One of them dead.

alex smith northern light

A look at the Alex Smith years, and The Northern Light fanzine.

ole wheel

In life you should learn from your mistakes. If possible, learn from other people’s mistakes. We are currently in the joyful position of watching others, make the same mistakes we made.

Years of watching Sir Alex Ferguson led to years of watching Man Utd. Now we get to see Man Utd post Ferguson.

One of the mistakes Aberdeen FC made repeatedly during the decades of trying to find a football manager was making a decision based on the previous football managerial appointment.

Alex Miller was probably the first of these reactionary decisions. We’d just gone through Willie Miller and Roy Aitken (young inexperienced managers) and that didn’t work, ‘we needed an older, experienced manager’. Hello Alex Miller. Anyone who saw his Hibs team (he was sacked after Hibs supporters campaigned to have him removed) knew it was not just a mistake, it was a shocking decision.

Now we’ll have a foreign manager. After that, now we’ll have a Scottish manager (they were literally announcing this stuff before finding a candidate). Followed by any old crap in desperation, usually from Motherwell, until finally, and definitely not sheer blind luck, definitely not, Aberdeen got a managerial decision correct. (I’m sure we’ll be getting them all right in future, now they’ve got the hang of it, that’s how these things work).

So Man Utd, on the back of internationally renowned, experienced managers Mourinho and Van Gaal not working, what went through someone’s head at Old Trafford. ‘We need a young manager, with Utd in his blood’. The exact opposite of an older experienced outsider manager. Reacting to what was perceived to be wrong before. A reactionary decision.

As opposed to, say, the best person available.

And then there’s the assistant. We know the manager’s not good enough, so we’ll bring in an experienced, big name assistant manager. As everyone knows a not quite good enough manager, with a great assistant, adds up to a brilliant managerial team. Sadly they didn’t announce Solskjær and Phelan as co-managers. Then we’d really be through the looking glass.

A reminder of the series of ‘geniuses’ who were Ferguson’s assistants down the years. Brian Kidd, Steve McClaren, Carlos Queiroz (twice), Archie Knox, and Mike Phelan. All of them praised to the skies while at Utd. It was regularly implied not only were these people crucial to Ferguson’s success, it may all have been down to them.

Weirdly when they left for jobs to do their own thing, the magic seldom, almost never, went with them, yet even more weirdly, pretty much always, stayed with Sir Alex. Funny that.

The ‘highly rated assistant’ is a bit like a recommendation on Linkedin. Worthless.

When Alex Ferguson got the Man Utd job, he’d won the Cup Winners Cup and Super Cup with Aberdeen. He was nearly sacked in the beginning at Utd, but if a manager has done something special, something exceptional, they deserve a little more time. It wasn’t that brave a decision to have kept him in the job.

Solskjær did well at Molde in Norway, and failed badly at Cardiff. One of the world’s wealthiest clubs taking a hell of a risk. I don’t bet, but if I did, I’d be looking at the odds on Solskjær being sacked before Xmas.

And for Aberdeen, when McInnes goes. Do they already have their eyes on possible replacements? They should always be ready, and they should always have back ups, and they should always be updating their monitoring of prospective managers. It’s literally the only job they need to get right.

game day aberdeen

A look at Game day. The rituals and details that make it special.

mcinnes heart

On the sixth anniversary of Derek McInnes arrival at Aberdeen FC.

dandy af
The original Dandy AF

With Ole Gunnar Solskjar getting the Utd job and McLeish floundering at Scotland, I found the years of observing and trying to understand the genius of Alex Ferguson back in my head. He appears to be back at United, and inspiring and teaching as he always did.

Ferguson has said he encouraged his players to become students of the game, so a future in football after their playing career ended was possible. There has always been a lot of former Ferguson players in football management, and the phrase ‘student of the game’ comes up regularly in various players’ autobiographies.

I remember a very revealing comment from Willie Miller (as pundit) when Ally McCoist was venturing into football management few years back. Wullie subtly interjecting with a note of surprise ‘he was never a student of the game when we were players together’.

Ferguson instilled into his players self belief. If you believe you are as good as, or better than Real Madrid, you will have a far better chance of beating them. And anyone else in front of you. It’s not blind belief. He got the maximum out of everyone, ensured everyone knew their jobs, the unit was set up to win. There were ball carrieres to get the ball to the creatives. Finishers in the box, and the best penalty box defender in Europe sweeping up…

But what does that belief make you when you are no longer a player? It can lead to over confidence and a delusional belief in your own ability.

The prime example Gary Neville at Valencia. I have never managed before. I will bring my brother as my assistant. I do not speak Spanish. Spain will learn Gary Neville. Because I believe I will make it work, it will work.

A very important lesson in life, those that are successful are seldom the most talented or deserving, it’s the ones who want it most, believe they are the best, irrespective of ability. Because unlike football, where Neville was quickly found out, most places of work are not a meritocracy.

And Ole Gunnar Solskjær? This time next year, sacked or on the verge of it. Unless Sir Alex is doing a bit more than is being let on. And spare a thought for all those former players of Ferguson who must be sick with jealousy that they didn’t land the Utd job. Neville, Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, McClair, Strachan, McGhee… because their self-belief tells them ‘they could have done a job’. And who put that belief into them?

El shop

alex mcleish aberdeen training

A shy, anxious young art student wrote to then manager Ian Porterfield for permission to photograph the players in training for an illustration project…

I appear to be looking down upon God here…
Despite borrowing a zoom lens for the occasion, I used it to stay further away from them as I was very shy and uncomfortable in their presence, so they are not as sharp as they should be.
charlie nicholas aberdeen training
Charlie
willie miller aberdeen training
The coolest man in the world.
aberdeen fc training
Wullie none too impressed with the anxious looking art student in the torn denim jacket, desperately trying to hide behind the camera. Tom Jones, Paul Wright, Peter Nicholas, I think Ian Robertson, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish.
john hewitt aberdeen
Aye is it.

When I got back to art college with the photos, I thought they were terrible. Looking at a few of them now, a couple were okay with a little Photoshop cropping, all I needed to have done was go back the next day, and I’d have gotten them so much better.

Youth, like an education at Gray’s School of Art, is wasted on the young…

And that illustration project? Here it is.

Graeme Shinnie

As we’ve known for a while, Graeme Shinnie is off. If there is one thing that exemplifies Graeme Shinnie, it’s in his last game for Aberdeen a very important game v Kilmarnock, he picked up an injury. With all our subs used, despite not having a contract for next season, with literally millions at stake for his own career, he stayed on the park (risking further injury) to ensure Aberdeen got the three points.

One can only guess from body language, but after the game McInnes appeared to approach Shinnie to acknowledge what he’d done. Shinnie just shrugged it off. Little or nothing said about what he’d done after the game.

Like his serious health condition. Almost never mentioned. Never ever used as an excuse. Shinnie was a captain, a real Aberdeen captain.

Here’s hoping we see him again in the red of Aberdeen.

Acknowledgements to Scott Baxter, Stephen Dobson, SNS Group.


dandy art

The Dandy Dons shop is open. Lots of posters, lots of t-shirts. I just thought I’d explain a bit about what I was doing for some of it, and a bit about me and my art.

I have an Afc art history, a heritage as it were. Cartoonist on The Northern Light fanzine, The P&J (mainly the back page), The Absolute Game fanzine, When Saturday Comes, and the pinnacle, the ultimate, doing some illustrations for Aberdeen FC themselves back when Ebbe was manager.

Quite the fitba CV. Which completely makes up for the lack of earnings during those jobs.

So while the Facebook page and the blog are now approaching four years old in their current format, and thousands of memes and illustrations have been published during that time, I thought I’d do something more substantial. Something artistic to express my thanks to the club and the city of my birth.

I also wanted to empty my head of all the ideas that were rattling around in my head, some of which had been there for years.

‘One city, one team, two European trophies’ has been in my head for decades. Adding a lobster to it, because, well there are reasons, is quite new.

Bottles and food (still life) appear in a few of the illustrations, as they often do in other aspects of my art. The son of a chef, a hotel manager and publican, I grew up in that industry.

The Dandy logo

The Dandy logo. The essence of Dandy. It’s an extreme simplification of the official Aberdeen FC, Donald Addison designed logo. A laughing face. The mouth represents where the 1903 sits in the official logo.

There’s a small nod in the symbol to acid house. Aberdeen supporters eh, stuck in the eighties. Needing drugs in the nineties for the Roy Aitken, Alex Miller years.

I only discovered Donald Addison had designed the official Afc logo from Wikipedia recently. He taught me during my brief spell at Gray’s School of Art, and I lived next door to him for years. If he’s still with us, all the best there Don.

More designs will follow. Visit the shop here.

shay logan

To celebrate Shay Logan being, Shay Logan, here’s the memes and illustrations of The Dandy Dons on Shay down the years.

The fox in the box. Which if I remember rightly from Red TV, Dave and Andrew said it’s a nickname he gave himself!! You’ve got to love someone who gives themself a nickname!

The Shay man. Move any mountain. The band, the song. Interesting fact (to absolutely no-one) in my first full time job, I worked with a member of The Shamen, Allison. Albeit she wasn’t in the band when they got famous. But she’s on their Wikipedia page. Still counts.

The shop is open

Didn’t think it possible, but the last few weeks the Glasgow media have reached a new low in their coverage of Scottish football. And this isn’t just the tabloids, not just the usual suspects. BBC Glasgow, on your licence fee.

Brendan leaves Celtic. A very successful manager, a very skilled manager, he left as, well it was time. It is sad for supporters when a player or manager moves on to better things, but it happens. You get sad and or angry about it for a day or two, you pick yourself up, and get on with it. The king is dead, long live the king.

Not if you support The Rangers or Celtic. You get nursed through the whole sad/angry experience by a succulent lamb media, as they offer twenty four hour psychological care. As if the prospect of dealing with the reality that their teams, aint all that, is simply something these emotional wrecks couldn’t deal with.

Attack after attack after attack on Brendan Rodgers. “How could he leave when he could have been a hero?”

Two things; he singularly shoots ‘the treble treble’ in the back of the head at very close range, as if it is any sort of an achievement. It’s not, whatever the media say, it’s a perfect example of how ridiculously skewed Scottish football is financially. A small reminder, Celtic with all that money, all those resources, will be playing Aberdeen, from the North East of Scotland, at ‘neutral’ Hampden soon, which is in Glasgow. Because it’s just not fixed enough for them in advance already. We will be sneered at, and belittled for not taking enough supporters.

Secondly, in the absence of any actual journalism in Scotland, why did Brendan leave when he left?

Anyone remember when McInnes arrived at Aberdeen? Lovely man that he is, I’d doubt very much Craig Brown wanted to retire five games before the end of the season. McInnes wanted in early so he could coach the players. Find out what their personalities were like. Who was open to learning, and following his instructions, and who wasn’t. So he knew what to bring in in the summer. That first full season we got off to a flyer. That momentum helped transform our club from the mess it had been in for years to now generating probably more than double it’s previous turnover. But nowhere in the Scottish media is the fact these two, reputed to be friends, have done exactly the same thing when starting a job.

Then there is the recent defeats of The Rangers by Aberdeen. I’d be surprised if there is anywhere outside of a dictatorship where a far smaller team, with regard to resources (though crucially not history or European trophies), would get such reluctant praise for beating a team with the budget of The Rangers. The media narrative all over the world of the giant killer, the underdog being a great story. Not in Scotland.

Just pumping out the laughable whataboutery of investigating Aberdeen supporters for sectarian chanting, and allowing the narrative of appealing Morelos yellow card (the narrative is ‘they were cheated’) just diversion and dishonesty all over your licence fee funded BBC.

Only a few weeks ago, Steve Clarke had a public melt down at his treatment from supporters of The Rangers. He went into great detail as to how shameful it was, how embarrassing it was for Scotland and how glad he was he’d left Scotland when Chelsea signed him when he was young. That was exactly when the media ought to have gone into overdrive into this cancer in Scottish football and Scottish society.

Instead the media have been very deliberately trying to tar every Scottish club. Everyone is a problem. A diversion. The establishment working together. The Record, Scottish Sun, Sky, BBC all ‘coincidently’ doing exactly what Traynor wants them to do.

I’d put money on Steve Clarke going back to England in the summer.

The shop is on fire.