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dons in the european cup

By winning the Scottish League championship ? the Premier Division - in season 1979-80 the Dons, for the first time in their history, qualified to take part in the European Cup. At that time the competition was a home and home knockout competition with none of the complexities of the present-day Champions League. It was designed to be contested by the Clubs who won their respective domestic leagues and not by clubs that were large and wealthy.

Aberdeen opened their season by winning the last of the popular Drybrough Cup tournaments, having won the first one ten years earlier. The European campaign began in mid-September with a hard-fought home match against Austrian champions Austria Memphis. That game saw the Dons take a narrow 1-0 advantage with them to Vienna where they held out to gain a 0-0 draw and progress to the next round.

To say that the Northeast supporters hit fever pitch when they discovered that the next opponent would be English champs Liverpool FC would be to put it way too mildly. Indeed, fans throughout Scotland wanted to be at the first leg of the tie, at Pittodrie on the 22nd of October 1980. Perhaps the most infamous facet of the story of this European clash concerns the ticket arrangements for Pittodrie. A huge queue formed up around the famous old ground many hours before the ticket office was due to open. The first person in line declared himself to be a Hibs? supporter. The ticket office opened ? the queues moved a few feet ? the ticket office closed. Rumours raced round Aberdeen speculating on the fate of the bulk of the tickets which had clearly not found their way out to the queuing masses ? that?s a whole other story.

On the night that Liverpool came to town and presented Dick Donald with this striking cranberry glass vase with the Liverpool FC crest, an official attendance of 23,934 saw the visitors gain a 1-0 victory and John McMaster suffer a horrible injury that put him out of the game for a year. The real attendance at the game was far greater than the reported number, with many people getting in by a vast range of trickery and inventiveness. Two weeks later thousands of Dandies travelled down to Liverpool to sing their hearts out despite a 4-0 pasting ? and they gained the plaudits of the home supporters. Alex Ferguson?s Dons had learned a valuable lesson and the Liverpool vase remains in the boardroom to provide a reminder of just how tough it is to progress in European competition.