Following a poor showing in Vancouver, Aberdeen were hoping to right the ship and end the four-game series against Wolves on a positive note. The final match against Wolverhampton benefited from a generous amount of pregame excitement among both the Los Angeles football fanbase and the media.
Perhaps that enthusiasm and interest were due in part to memories of the game played between the two clubs in the City of Angels five years earlier.
On July 14, 1967, Aberdeen (playing under the banner of the Washington Whips) and Wolves (as the L.A. Wolves) played in the final of the United Soccer Association. Washington (a.k.a. Aberdeen) finished top of the Eastern division in a group with Stoke City, Hibs, Glentoran, C.A. Cerro (Uruguay) and Shamrock Rovers. With Wolves finishing top of the Western division, the final was played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before 17,842 spectators. It was a wild game: 1-1 HT, 4-4 FT, 5-5 1OT and finally finished with a 6-5 Wolves victory after a sudden death second OT.
The Sunday matinée was a chance for double retribution for the former Whips.
A unique twist to the game was an added incentive (in case revenge wasn't appealing enough for the Dons). The California Soccer Association South offered $1,000 to the winning team to avoid the two teams playing for a draw. That scenario could not be discounted considering the 1967 Los Angeles final needed 126 minutes to crown a winner. However, based upon the one-sided results these teams had played to in their previous three matches on the tour, the association might have concluded the $1,000 would not need to be dispensed. The "stimulus package" was also a tad odd as the teams had already agreed to extra-time rules, so a draw after extra-time seemed unlikely.
The support was not at the same level as five years earlier, with only 4,070 fans in attendance, even though the amount of promotion for the game was among the heaviest of all the cities on the tour. As was also demonstrated in San Francisco, the state of California had seemingly not clicked with professional football, or at least not enough when it came time to watching two foreign teams.
Like the Vancouver game, the "Dynamic Dons" (as they were being billed) started well, especially for the first 25 minutes. Joe Harper hit the back of the net after 23 minutes, but the referee ruled him offside. This was the wakeup call Wolves needed as three minutes later a John Richards header from a Dave Wagstaffe corner gave Wolverhampton a 1-0 lead. The score would remain that way through to half time.
Shortly after the break, Davie Robb had one of Aberdeen's better chances but put one just over the bar. In the 64th minute, Francis Munro put Wolves two to the good with a deflected shot. And when it rains it pours, as one minute later Richards got his second of the day putting Wolves up by three with 25 minutes left. Thirteen minutes later Richards put the game well and truly to bed, securing his hat-trick.
Davie Robb stated after the game that the Dons' defence had a tough time handling crosses and balls in the air, and this was the source of most of Wolves' attack. Perhaps the loss could also be chalked up to fatigue or the heat. Regardless, the bottom line was this portion of the tour was now complete. A pessimist would say the four games represented an 8-6 aggregate win for Wolves, while an optimist would declare it was a tied series at two wins apiece and not to forget that Wolves were UEFA Cup finalists. The Los Angeles game featured plenty of goals for the neutrals and Wolves' fans in attendance to enjoy, but the biggest cheer heard in the afternoon was when the score of the baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros was announced over the public address system. Full time: Aberdeen-0 Wolves-4. (And it was Los Angeles Dodgers-6 Houston Astros-5, in case you were interested!)
Injuries had started to pile-up after the quick succession, and intensity, of the games played: Joe Harper had pulled ligaments in his knee and pulled muscles in his leg, but still managed to see out the full 90 minutes (albeit his performance in the last couple of games had dipped compared to the earlier games in the tour). Perhaps he was a victim of the decision to only bring a small squad across the water to North America.
The Dons would head to Disneyland on their day off, as the next game would be played three days later rather than the two-day breaks that had been the norm for most games on the tour.
Next up for the team was a return visit to Canada to face the Toronto Metros. Willie Young would get to enjoy a break from the tour, as he was headed back to Aberdeen to get married, but that also meant the Dons would now be down two centre halves. The good news was that first-choice 'keeper Bobby Clark would be joining the squad in Toronto after his Scotland duties concluded.
Author: George Pirie
Wolverhampton Wanderers Teamsheet
Parkes, Taylor, Parkin (Shaw), Sunderland (Bailey), Munro, McAlle, McCalliog, Daley, Richards, Curran (Eastoe), Wagstaffe.
Aberdeen Teamsheet Geoghegan
Venue: Los Angeles memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, USA
Referee: Toros Kibrijian