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tommy pearson

While the stepping down of Dave Shaw as Aberdeen manager on November 17, 1959, may have taken the fans by surprise, the event had obviously been planned behind the scenes as the appointment of new boss Tommy Pearson came into effect almost immediately the same day. Pearson, a well-liked and respected former player, had only rejoined the club a few months earlier as youth team coach, and there were those who reckoned that the replacement of Shaw by Pearson had been the plan all along, and the few months that Tommy had spent with the youngsters was to test his mettle as a future boss. In any case, there appeared to be no acrimony surrounding the moves, and a new chapter in the Dons history was opened.

Pearson began his playing career with Murrayfield Amateurs in Edinburgh before joining Newcastle United for the princely sum of £35 in 1933. At St James Park he developed into one of the true characters of his era and he regularly enthralled the Geordie public with his dazzling skills on the left flank. Like all players of his generation, many of the best players were lost to World War Two, but it earned Tommy a notch in history as the only player to have played for both Scotland and England at international level. Pearson was capped twice by Scotland in the immediate post-war period but by then he had already turned out for England in a war-time international, when the English left winger was injured following a road accident on the way to the game, and Tommy stood in for him.

In February, 1948, Tommy was transferred to Aberdeen for £4,000 and despite the fact he was 35, quickly became a personality player at Pittodrie. His trademark was his famous "double-shuffle" - a technique he developed during the war years while he was in the forces. His ability could draw thousands to watch him even in the reserve matches.
Tommy, or "T.U.P." as he was fondly known (after his initials), was primarily brought to Pittodrie by Dave Halliday as a seasoned professional to add experience to the youth element that Halliday was seeking to introduce to the Aberdeen side of the late 1940s. Pearson did Halliday proud and proved to be a wonderful example to the young Dons players and seemed to relish his teacher role. In 1953 he decided to call it a day, hung up his boots and turned his hand to sports journalism with the Scottish Daily Mail. He was still a writer when Aberdeen took him on as youth coach in 1959.

The situation facing Pearson as manager was not dissimilar to the one that had faced Pearson the player back in 1948. In both instances the Dons had enjoyed relatively recent trophy success, and again in both instances, the sides that had achieved that success had become pretty long in the tooth. The main difference, however, was that while as a player Pearson had several talented and experienced team-mates - such as George Hamilton and Archie Baird to share the burden, Pearson the manager had few survivors of the Dons 1955 championship side to build on.

Archie Glen and Fred Martin were still at Pittodrie but both were forced to retire from the game within a year of Pearson taking over. Accordingly, "T.U.P." gave youth its fling and that became the hallmark of the Pearson era at Pittodrie. The role of the manager at the club, for the first time, began to take on the characteristics of the modern manager's job, as Tommy, assisted by trainer Dave Shaw, preached the importance of ball skills and tactics and was actively involved in the application of both in a way that was unknown to former managers such as Paddy Travers or Dave Halliday.

At the outset of the 1960-61 season, Pearson's first full campaign in charge, the signs looked good. A new young-looking Dons side, with the likes of Dave Bennett, Dave Fraser, Ian Burns and Charlie Cooke, challenged hard for a championship itself up to the point where a 6-3 home defeat by Dunfermline in the third round of the Scottish Cup in late February 1961 seemed to knock the stuffing out of them. However, an unprecedented 6-1 thrashing of Rangers at Pittodrie late in the season seemed to indicate to the success-hungry Dons support that, given time, Pearson's youngsters might be the genuine article after all.

Unfortunately, the following season proved to be a big disappointment, and things seemed to go downhill for Tommy Pearson from then on. Inconsistent league form became the norm: one week the Dons would win 7-0 at home and the next they would go down 4-1 away. Attendances began to suffer but nothing did more harm to Pearson's standing as a manager than a disastrous run of Scottish Cup exits over the 1963-65 period. In 1963 the Dons went out to relegation certs Raith Rovers after beating them 10-0 in the League earlier in the season, and the following year second division Ayr united came north in the third round of the Cup to record a bigger upset.

On February 10, 1965, following a 0-0 draw at Pittodrie, East Fife beat Aberdeen 1-0 in a replayed first round tie at Bayview, and no one was surprised when Tommy Pearson followed that up with his resignation. In retrospect, Tommy Pearson was in many ways a man ahead of his time as regards to his ideas and methods. But he lacked the ruthless qualities that the modern game required of its managers - that just wasn't "T.U.P.'s" style. After his Pittodrie experience he could have been excused for turning his back on football, but instead he became Newcastle United's Scottish scout.

Tommy passed away on the 2nd of March 1999.

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AFC Competitive Managerial Record

Competition Played Won Drawn Lost For Against GD
League 180 66 42 72 326 343 -17
LeagueCup 30 10 9 11 54 63 -9
ScotsCup 19 8 5 6 49 37 12
Total 229 84 56 89 429 443 -14

AFC Appearances

Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Reserve Youth
  App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub
1952-53 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0
1951-52 20 0 4 0 4 0 0 0 28 0 0 0 0 0
1950-51 19 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 23 0 0 0 0 0
1949-50 19 0 6 0 5 0 0 0 30 0 0 0 0 0
1948-49 15 0 6 0 1 0 0 0 22 0 0 0 0 0
1947-48 9 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0
Total 84 0 17 0 14 0 0 0 115 0 0 0 0 0


Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Reserve Youth
1951-52 1 1 0 0 2 0 0
1950-51 3 0 0 0 3 0 0
1949-50 3 1 2 0 6 0 0
1948-49 2 1 0 0 3 0 0
1947-48 1 0 1 0 2 0 0