Local players who play for their local clubs will have you believe that they had it tough. An ever-demanding support would perhaps be more critical of local lads than any others. Every so often some players will dispense that myth and carve out a career that brought remarkable success and ultimately cult status with the support. If there was ever a story of the local boy made good then it would have to be Neil Simpson. Although born in London, Neil was brought up in Newmachar and joined Aberdeen in 1978. A product of local youth team Middlefield Wasps, Simmie was a Scotland Youth cap before injury to both John McMaster and Gordon Strachan opened the first team door for Neil in 1980 and he seized the opportunity given to him by Alex Ferguson.
From that point on Neil Simpson became a vital part of the Aberdeen side that would go on to unprecedented success at home and abroad. 'Simmy' formed a resolute and youthful partnership alongside Neale Cooper in the Aberdeen engine room that contributed so much to the success Aberdeen achieved during the golden era of the 80's. As the winners' badges began to increase Neil earned the first of his five international caps when he played for Scotland against Northern Ireland at Hampden in 1983, suffering the 'embarrassment' of being replaced by Gordon Strachan in the second half. Simmie reversed the roles a year later when he came on for the 'wee man' against France in Marseilles. Neil's strengths as a player were his commitment and stamina once described as Alex Ferguson as one of the best 'box-to-box' players in Britain. There were also some vital goals along the way - who could forget that memorable night against Bayern Munich when Simmy hammered in to the heart of the German defence before scoring in front of the old Beach End.
That goal paved the way for a famous victory in what was Pittodrie's greatest ever night. Later that season of course Aberdeen enjoyed their finest hour in Gothenburg and Neil was once asked where he was positioned when John Hewitt headed home that magical winning goal. "Well inside their half" was the response, and what about Cooper? "Don't know, but he would have been well behind me, that's for sure!" That typified the appetite Neil Simpson had for the game and for the club he loved. Neil moved away from Pittodrie and joined Newcastle in 1989 and after returning to Motherwell for a short spell he came back to the north east with Cove before retiring. Simmie returned to Pittodrie in 2002 to take up his present role heading up the Dons community coaching initiatives, which were rewarded nationally with recognition for his teams' efforts by the league sponsors. Later became head of the Aberdden FC Youth Academy.