On the 16th of May 1984 Aberdeen should have played in The Cup Winners’ Cup final in Basel against Juventus. This didn’t happen as Aberdeen were cheated by Porto in the semi final. Porto bribed the referee, and were later convicted and punished for it.

Fernando Barata, the former coach of first division side Farense, admitted this week that he acted as a go-between to bribe a Romanian referee when FC Porto beat Aberdeen in the 1984 semi-final of the competition when Alex Ferguson was in charge of the Scottish holders of the title.

The Irish Times 1996

That would have been Aberdeen’s third European final in a row. Up against the mighty Juventus managed by Trapattoni, with Michel Platini in his prime. France would a short time later win Euro 84 with Platini as top scorer. Would Aberdeen have won? Would they have made it three European trophies in a row? That would also have gotten them a place in their fourth European final in a row in the 1984 Super Cup, against Liverpool. A chance for revenge.

Who knows. Highly unlikely I’d say. About as likely as them beating Real Madrid in 1983.

In the second week of November, Fernando Barata, currently president of third division club Imortal, announced that on behalf of FC Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa he ‘bought’ the Romanian referee, Ion lgna, before one of the semi-final legs of the Cup-Winners Cup tie against Aberdeen in 1984.

When Saturday Comes

One thing we do know for sure is, had the Aberdeen support descended on Basel, and The St Clair found a way to port in a land locked country, (the Rhine does flow through it…) there would have been a familiar sound all over the Swiss capital. The same sound that echoed around Gothenburg the previous year, the sound of exasperated Aberdonians saying ‘How much for a pint?!’.

Porto clearly learned their lesson from the scandal. Until they were caught doing it again in 2003. And they are still in football.

European soccer’s governing body UEFA excluded Porto from next season’s Champions League on Wednesday, saying the Portuguese club had tried to influence the outcome of matches by allegedly bribing referees in the 2003-04 season.

France 24

The free Gothenburg 83 book of fans’ stories.

Gothenburg map

I wasn’t in Gothenburg, I don’t have any good anecdotes, but just a few silly memories I’ll share here.

I was 15 at the time.

Number 1.

Involves my dear old Dad, who passed away last year. Me and my Dad were maybe going. I really didn’t think we could, times were exceptionally difficult, it was the worst time in my life. He had a business that was struggling and I was psychologically, barely surviving as an exceptionally unwelcome guest in the home of the step mother from hell.

But out of all that, there was the fitba! So as the day is getting closer, in the kitchen of his restaurant, he took me to one side. We aren’t going. And then he said the most brilliant thing. ‘We will try and go to next year’s final’.

That was all I needed. And what is so lovely about that, not just a great Dad, being a great Dad, but our team was so flipping good, we could make plans for the following year’s Cup Winners Cup final!

And if you know the history(!) only a bribed referee stopped that final happening.

Number 2.

The ten year anniversary. I lived in London in 1993. The Cup Winners Cup final was at Wembley. I went along as our unofficial representative. Serie A team Parma with Sweden’s Thomas Brolin beat Royal Antwerp. I thought a lot of Aberdeen during the game. Trying to put them into that spectacle. It was already a world away. Wondering at the achievement from a decade previous.

Number 3.

Gothenburg. I did the pilgrimage.  In the nineties. Interrailing in February alone, like a madman. It was fab. Travelling between Stockholm and Hamburg. Quite the train journey, with a planned hour and a half break in Gothenburg to see the Ullevi. 

Tourist information at Gothenburg train station, the most beautiful blond Scandinavian stereotype I’ve seen in my life is at the desk.

How do I get to the Ullevi Stadium?

No you can’t go. There is no game, it is closed.

No you don’t understand. And, I don’t have long, my train is leaving shortly. I want to go to the Ullevi.

No there is no game today. No Ullevi today.

In a hurry, just want to see the stadium.

Not today. Bored blond goddess, keeps explaining, there is nothing happening there.

Eventually I explain the whole Aberdeen, Real Madrid, by far the greatest team, Johnny Hewitt and my next train is soon. I just want to see the empty stadium.

Not for the first or last time in my life, an attractive blond woman’s eyes glaze over as I explain something important.

With a cold dead stare, she points in the direction of the Ullevi. (within walking distance of the train station!!)

At the stadium. Oh yes. Just wow!

Would you believe, but it was closed. But the floodlights were on, the electric green pitch was in view.

High on, I don’t know, Gothenburg fever, Ullevi magic dust, Fergie’s pre-match talk still lingering in the Swedish air, I come up with a cunning plan.

If I get stopped by security, then explain the whole Johnny Hewitt thing, they’ll take pity on me, before ye know it I’ll be at the centre circle. May even get to kick a fitba on the turf.

I am prepared to act like a nuts loner, to get inside the Ullevi. I’m not even sure myself at this point if I’m acting.

So in an effort to alert security to me being there, I attempt to climb a very large gate. Very unconvincingly. Again and again I try to get in, and again and again I slip down after getting about a third of the way up. 

Where’s the effin’ security?! (By the way, Swedish police carry guns – didn’t know that then).

Nothing. After close to an hour of this fuckwittery ’shenanigans’ I head for my train. 

I reached the Ullevi. I saw the hallowed stadium, the beautiful Swedish curves. I touched the walls. I could see inside through the gate. I saw the pitch lit up. I slid down the gate loads of times. There’s probably an amusing CCTV video somewhere. I beamed a huge smile passing the tourist information desk at the station. She blanked me.

So that’s me and Gothenburg. Without me even delving into my Zlatan anecdote which is kind of, almost related.

The free Gothenburg 83 book of fans’ anecdotes (an awful lot better than mine) is available here.


The finished book is here and free.

As those who were in Gothenburg and experienced the glory of 1983 are not getting any younger, this is to collect as many stories, anecdotes, good, bad, funny, serious whatever as possible. Those that were there, the journey, the day after, those that were on an oil rig, back in Aberdeen watching on telly, at the day they came back with the trophy, everything Gothenburg. Stories from Munich, Sion, all that led to and became The Glory of Gothenburg documented permanently. Not match reports, not about the games or players, about the supporters, by the supporters.

Stories can be shared publicly in the comments, or can be messaged, or emailed to The Dandy Dons. They could be in as anonymous, or by name.

The collected stories will be released as a free to download PDF. I have had a brief look at other places for free content, perhaps ISSUU, Amazon and iBooks appear a bit tricky with free content.

Originally I’d thought about making it for sale with all proceeds going to the Afc Community Trust, but don’t think you should have to pay to read your own stories.

If a company is interested in sponsoring it. Logo on the front, a full page advert inside, obviously you’d get to read it first to check it was okay, in return for a donation to the community trust. Then get in touch if interested. You would be paying directly to the Community Trust.

There is still time to get your stories in. It could be just a couple of sentences, a whole page or a chapter if you have something to say. Middle of July is when I’d like it in. As deadlines concentrate the mind!

If you want to get in touch directly, do it here

It’s just a book for supporters, nothing else. No one will make money out of your stories.

The finished book is here and free.

plane aberdeen

plane aberdeen

I saw Ronaldinho play for Barcelona in the Nou Camp, Camp Nou (make up yer feckin’ minds) while he was the best player in the world. Rijkaard had taken over as manager, it had started badly, then *Bartha* went on a run of about eleven wins in a row, the beginning of the little bit too short window of Ronaldinho being the man.

It was about game seven of that run, Davids got sent off. Athletico Madrid they were playing I think. Ronaldinho was just incredible, unstoppable. I was with a Danish girlfriend (number 3 in a series), the loveliest, coolest Scandinavian chic you could ever meet (of course I’d go on to self destruct it)  but for that magical weekend in Barcelona, with that football match, with Ronaldinho at his prime, I was in heaven.

Best footballer I ever saw, the greatest footballing experience of my life, Peter Weir in an Aberdeen shirt.

Everyone connected with Gothenburg is a legend. Everyone worthy of unending gratitude. But it was Weir and Willie Miller who had their own special stratosphere. My greatest footballing privilege. To see Peter Weir play.

I have a late memory, a sad memory. Can’t remember who we were playing. Mystified at Peter not getting a game. For Gary Hackett? This had been going on for a while, before a game all the players warming up, Peter started doing this incredible bit of skill by himself. I can’t remember what it was, but the crowd got behind it. Were watching him, were with him. He was making a statement. I think he was gone within a few weeks. Our next decent left winger was Jonny Hayes. Three decades later. Jonny is a lovely guy by all accounts, and was a great Dandy, but not a tenth of Peter Weir. Porterfield you blundering thundercunt.

We can’t end with that. I will badly paraphrase a story left on the page a couple of years ago. Apologies to whoever left it, if you recognize it, want your name on, want it revised, let me know.

A plane full of Dandies flying to Gothenburg for the final. A wee bit fired up. The stewardess starts doing the safety instructions, before take off. Every time she mentions the rear of the plane, the whole plane keeps bursting into a round of ‘Peter Weir, Peter Weir, Peter Weir’ (to the Here we go song). The safety instructions take quite a while. Finally the plane takes off, literally bouncing up the runway to the sound of Peter Weir, Peter Weir, Peter Weir…

I put it forward, Peter Weir is not just a legend, not just a Gothenburg Great, perhaps, the greatest of them all.