ash taylor aberdeen

I don’t have a strong Ash Taylor opinion. We’ve signed a squad player, probably Reynolds replacement. It makes sense if you are a football manager, if you have worked with someone, you know what they are like. There are always unknowns with a new person, however much research you do.

One observation on Ash Taylor, that may be complete nonsense, that relates to McInnes and looking to understand his methods, is Ash Taylor’s physique. He isn’t just big, he’s an athlete. Look at Shay, the fun guy, the joker, look at his physique when he takes his shirt off. Considine, Stevie May is another one, none of them in my exceptionally ignorant opinion, enjoy a pint or six after training. Nor do they enjoy the occasional mock chop supper. They are athletes who take their profession incredibly seriously. All day, every day, to be in peak physical condition.

I guess wherever you are in terms of talent, if you are as dedicated to your job as to always eat correctly and train at 100%, that GPS that’s on their backs means they can never shirk in training, never hide, never quietly nurse a hangover while going through the motions, you bring a certain amount of professionalism to a team than an exceptionally talented but less dedicated person may bring.

What sort of team while performing badly as they did last season would still get to a cup final and a semi-final? A very, very fit, very disciplined one.

Social media watching

But fascinating, to me in the signing of Ash Taylor, has been watching the Aberdeen FC’s support reaction. Football is about opinions, how boring it would be if we all agreed.

There is a fair bit of negativity about Ash Taylor on social media. Where there is negativity it is incredibly strong. There is an element who truly do not rate him, and are very vociferous in their pronouncements. They are as entitled to their opinions as anyone else. As I remember it was the same when he played. A very significant element didn’t rate him.

When I posted this pretty insignificant meme, when he left, it picked up over 500 likes on the Facebook page. That surprised me at the time. The longer working with social media, you get a feel for reactions. What is, and isn’t expected. He was considerably more popular than I thought.

I posted it again when he re-signed, and said ‘this got 500 likes when he left, no pressure’. At time of writing it’s sitting on about 430 likes. Two years on and Facebook’s algorithm has dramatically changed, it’s harder and harder to reach the page’s audience without paying for the privilege, (thanks Zuckerberg, just how many billions do you need?). This makes the new post, much bigger, much more popular than the one of two years ago.

What does that show in this very unscientific study? What I have learned from social media is the Aberdeen support like positivity. A positive post will always be a far more successful post.

I’d say the much more silent majority of the Aberdeen support, either quite like Big Ash the footballer, or will always back an Aberdeen player when they sign.

I also think this is a pretty good general rule on the Aberdeen FC support. Not a group of moaners, but in general a positive and supportive group of people who back their football team. Albeit they don’t shout about it on social media.

Of those criticising Taylor, as I said they are perfectly entitled to that opinion, but some, a minority within that group, I stress again, a minority within the ones criticising Taylor, who are hoping he fails, hoping McInnes fails, who bandy about the phrase ‘happy clappers’ to go after elements in the Aberdeen support, are people who in my opinion, badly need to feel superior to the people around them. This oozing sense of superiority they so need, as they are, as any psychologist would say, just fucking arseholes.

You might like this https://thedandydons.com/the-cup-winners-cup-1983-important-facts/

cup winners cup 1983

Some facts about the 1983 Cup Winners Cup. Maybe you know them all, maybe you don’t.

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.

Not only do I not know if my concerns are correct, I genuinely hope they are wrong. I’d love to love Stewart Milne. 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 (on part 2). 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.

An awful lot of the duplicity and manipulation that is clear in the selling of this project, ought to have far more people questioning it. Aberdeen Journals aren’t going to do it.

I suspect quite a few of the larger social media presences have their eyes on the Chris Gavin Afc career strategy. There may be a job somewhere later on down the line. Or it may be they are concerned at losing an element of their audience. My audience definitely falls on any criticism of Milne.

Why is everyone so trusting of a multi-millionaire? Who’s track record at Pittodrie doesn’t stand up to analysis? This is the biggest decision in Aberdeen FC’s history. The biggest decision, and we are being led off a cliff, like sheep.

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. Also if you think you’ll get out of that stadium in your car inside an hour and a half, well you might be in for a shock. Because none of this is being planned from any sort of transport perspective.

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

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. Because I don’t like upsetting people.

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.

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. 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 (as a serious concern), a football team created specifically to tap into 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 Kingsford 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 first 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.

Landlocked

“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? Try Googling to see when that phrase first came 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.

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

If you are an Aberdeen supporter who also supports Man Utd, well my sympathies. For me I’ve always been a one club man. I don’t judge others who have a liking for Utd, Barcelona, Juventus whatever, it just doesn’t work for me. If as an Aberdeen supporter you have stopped liking Man Utd, and started liking Liverpool recently, then I am judging you…

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

Reactionary managerial decisions

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. Announced in advance before they had found someone. After that, now we’ll have a Scottish manager (again, announced in advance). 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. Would everyone please remember this when an Aberdeen vacancy comes up and the name Eric Black gets mentioned. Love the man to bits, but he’s just another ‘highly rated assistant’. And he wouldn’t be bringing his boots, or be 21 years old anymore.

Back to Fergie

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. (This was written just after he got the Man Utd job in April)

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.

And no, don’t any of you dare mention Eric fucking Black.

__________

The t-shirt shop
The poster shop

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. I can vividly remember having the answer ready in case anyone asked.
‘I am far away from them, but with a zoom lens because I am an a art student. It’s for something arty you won’t understand. I know what I’m doing okay, so leave me alone.’
No-one asked.

charlie nicholas aberdeen training

If ye tuck yer sweatshirt intae yer breeks, yer gonna look a wee bit fat there 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. Even walking through Seaton Park, Willie keeps the defensive line for the offside trap.

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. I just needed to see them developed to know what worked and what didn’t. This is pre-digital.

I think there were two films of 36 photos. I threw loads away. We were told at Gray’s ‘don’t ever throw away your negs’. I did, because it irritated me the bloke with the posh Edinburgh accent said ‘negs’, and not negatives…

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

And that illustration project? Here it is.

27 t-shirts, 25 posters, the Dandy Dons shop.

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.