Forty years later, the memories burn as fiercely as the northern lights of Aberdeen.
Four decades have passed since the glory of Gothenburg, when Alex Ferguson and his conquering crusaders beat mighty Real Madrid 2-1 to lift the 1983 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
About 12,000 Dons fans followed the team in every way possible, boarding ferries, chartering flights, even crossing the North Sea on Peterhead fishing boats.
These are the memories of five supporters who made this joyful pilgrimage.
A message in a bottle
Jill McIntosh, 57. Took the St Clair ferry from Aberdeen to Gothenburg.
My dad had gone to Munich for the Bayern Munich quarter-final and I was a bit upset because I wasn’t allowed to go, so he promised me that if Aberdeen reached the final we would go. .
When we arrived at the ferry terminal, even though there were only 500 people on the boat, there seemed to be many more. Fergie came over to say bon voyage, so that was amazing.
There was a keeper competition, I can’t remember how many people participated, but how they managed to do it with the boat going back and forth, I’m not sure.
There was a talent contest – I don’t remember much talent – and the resident band was playing.
I just knew we were going to win. John Hewitt has always been my favorite player and for him to win was just beyond my wildest dreams.
We had to find the bus to go straight back to the St Clair so we didn’t hang around. I don’t know if everyone came back to the boat, there are stories that some didn’t.
We were sitting in the living room and there were glasses and bottles everywhere, and my dad said, “I’m going to put a little message in this bottle and see where it ends up.” I think he wrote the result and the date, and “we were there”.
We threw it overboard and three months later my father received a postcard. A German couple had found it while walking along the beach in Denmark.
A fountain, a Saab and a Swedish busker ransacked
Andy Lyall, 59 years old. Took his first flight from Aberdeen.
We went to a mall in Gothenburg because the mug was on display and there was a busker.
Every time he started with a Swedish folk tune it was about 15 seconds long because he was just drowned out by “Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Aberdeen”.
So he didn’t go anywhere, but he got tons and tons of money, so he was happy with how it all turned out.
After the game we didn’t drink because we didn’t have money for it. We had a blast anyway, there was a fountain outside which I believe was brand new, just built that week, and we all crowded through the fountain.
We had all been soaked by the rain earlier so it didn’t matter, everyone was dancing in the fountain like crazy.
Our flight home was at 3:30 that evening. There was a Saab on a revolving stand in the middle of the airport and I just remember four sleeping mannequins, two in the front, two in the back, because there was nowhere to sit, the place was absolutely tidy.
It was just a fantastic atmosphere when we came back, people who had never seen a Dons game, and probably never since, everyone was out.
My wife’s grandmother went to Pittodrie to see the cup arrive and she had never been there before and never been there after.
“We came back, landed our fish and nobody was talking about Aberdeen”
Drew Mair, 59 years old. He went to Gothenburg on the fishing boat he was working on.
Many of us on the boat were Aberdeen supporters. If we were at sea, we listened to games on the radio and if we were at home, I was at the games.
The Bayern Munich match, we were in the wheelhouse listening. There was an eruption when we won and someone had the idea: we have to go to Gothenburg, if we make the final.
We landed taking this trip and it was discussed in the office. The boats were going through the Don Fishing Company at the time, I don’t know who was in charge but he told the skippers he would manage to get tickets to Gothenburg. The rest is history, the boys are gone.
Before the game, we had some photos of the crew sitting in their seats. I noticed Jock Stein coming down the stairwell to the park, and I yelled at him ‘Can I have your picture, Jock?’ He says, ‘don’t bother’. It was an occasion I will never forget.
The game went on and on, getting more skittish, but when Mark McGhee crossed it for Hewitt, everyone headed the ball that night.
Everyone was going crazy, the team was everywhere, fans were screaming and dancing everywhere, it was a magical moment.
We were back on the boat after the game, it was just sitting around the kitchen, having a few beers with the guys, looking back at the great times, and then that was it, away from our beds, we were from back to work mode when we were on that boat.
We got up in the morning, it was back to normal, there was no time to party. It was just a matter of putting on our sea clothes and heading back to sea.
We had another week of fishing, catching cod and haddock. We went back to Peterhead and landed our fish and no one was talking about Aberdeen winning the cup, that was already history, everyone had moved on.
I could not believe it. There was nothing, everyone had had a party. Fergie and all her men had been to Pittodrie, met the St Clair ferry and we had taken a trip and missed it all.
I can’t thank the skippers enough for taking this on their heads and going there, it would have been an expensive trip for the boats. But we have this memory and we loved every moment of it.
“My husband had to work – I went to Gothenburg instead”
Barbara Johnson, 75 years old. Took a charter flight from Orkney.
It was my husband’s turn to go to the game and he was really looking forward to it. He was a firefighter at the airport, and coincidentally, when the game was supposed to happen, his boss was away and he was next and had to work.
Well it was obvious that I was going to go instead but it was a bit complicated because we had two young boys, so we had to have a babysitter there until he got home from gig.
He nearly smashed our coffee table when the last goal went in.
After the game, there were tears, I remember sitting on the bus later, and everything just hits you then because you were so excited.
Some of them are like a dream, you thought ‘was I really there?’ and that was the kind of thing we wanted to do again so we could really soak it all up.
I wasn’t well after that, couldn’t speak, hoarse from the screaming and the voice was gone, with the soaking and all. I remember lying in the living room with the TV watching endless replays of the game, trying to bring it all back again.
“I had to go offshore that day. I did not do it. I went to Gothenburg’
John McRuvie, 64 years old. Took a charter flight with friends from his golf club.
We practically bounced off the runway because by the time the plane left we were all singing.
I think we were one of the first flights to leave Aberdeen so most of us emptied the duty free.
My friend Patrick’s uncle George walked around the plane with a sock and we got a kick out for the pilot which was a big surprise for him and all the flight attendants .
We walked into Gothenburg, it was raining and because there was a huge mall there, we all went inside. And in the jeweler’s shop there was the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and I remember being there with Patrick and telling us ‘we won’t leave this town without it’.
I was to leave offshore at 10 a.m. that day by helicopter. But I didn’t, I went to Gothenburg at 10:30 on the flight.
We watched the helicopters leave but I was a maintainer so I wasn’t really needed, I didn’t have back to back guys who should have stayed.
I wasn’t the only one who did this, out of the 12,000 Dons fans you would have had a few thousand who didn’t tell the boss they were leaving that day, they just decided to take some holidays in Torrybank, as we say.
I phoned my boss within days and said, ‘I went to Gothenburg’, and he said, ‘Yeah, I saw you on TV’.
My overriding experience and recollection is that I consider myself a very lucky Aberdeen fan who saw a unique generational thing in their lifetime. I don’t think we will see that again.