This was the first match of a four-game West Coast friendly tour between Aberdeen and Wolves. Wolverhampton had finished mid-table in the English First Division, but a fourth place finish the season prior ensured qualification for a UEFA Cup run. This accomplishment meant their season finished only four days before facing the Dons in San Francisco.
Wolves were just coming off their 3-2 aggregate defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the first-ever all English UEFA Cup Final. They showed no signs of jet lag despite the eight-hour time difference between the U.K. and Pacific Standard Time.
Wolves went one up within 19 minutes as fellow Scot Jim McCalliog was assisted by striker (and Wolves' legend) John Richards. The rest of the first half was a tight affair with Joe Harper getting the bulk of Aberdeen's chances. After 33 minutes he was set up by Drew Jarvie but the shot didn't challenge Phil Parkes. Ten minutes later Harper righted his previous wrong by putting home a Davie Robb pass, levelling the game right before the half.
Robb himself would turn scorer just after the hour mark with a thunderbolt from 30 yards out to put the Dons ahead during a very offensive-oriented second half. Not to be outdone, Harper hit a strike on the run from 25 yards out leaving the 'keeper helpless, putting the game to bed after 76 minutes. Final result: Dons - 3, Wolves - 1.
Despite the one-sided result, Wolves were the more attacking of the two sides with more shots on goal (18-22) and fewer saves by Parkes (8-4). Plaudits were given to Aberdeen's defence and goalkeeper for smothering Wolves' attack for much of the game, notably Willie Young and Andy Geoghegan (Geoghegan was filling in for Bobby Clark who was on Scotland international duty). Both would receive praise for their performances throughout the tour. Harper was highlighted as well, with this game bringing his tally to six goals in four games - raising questions as to why he wasn't with Clark and the Scotland team.
Matthew Boxer, the past president of the California Soccer Association, was perhaps a bit too optimistic about the drawing power of Aberdeen and Wolves. Pre-game he declared "in any other country these games would draw 50,000 to 100,000 people." It was Boxer's contention that the American sports media had no interest in football, therefore a contributing factor to any potential attendance woes. However, Aberdeen's average home attendance in 1971-1972 was 17,068 while for Wolves it was 27,948 - nowhere close to Mr. Boxer's claims. Ultimately, attendance in San Francisco was among the lowest on the entire North American tour, with less than 1,500 people in the stands.
Post-game, one local newspaper called it "a fine lesson in soccer wasted," as one of the best games to be played in San Francisco according to journalists was witnessed by so few.
Aberdeen and Wolves would play once again in three days' time in Seattle.
Author: George Pirie
Wolverhampton Wanderers Teamsheet
Parkes, Shaw, Taylor (Parkin), Bailey, Munro, McAlle, Hibbitt (Sunderland), McCalliog (Daley), Curran (Eastoe), Richards, Wagstaffe.
Aberdeen Teamsheet Geoghegan
43).Unused Subs: Wilson.
Venue: Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, USA
Referee: Hans Strufeneger