Created on 14-02-2008 at 00:00 AM
Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan, Willie Miller, Neil Simpson, John Hewitt and their team-mates rate as household names in Aberdeen. In 1983, young Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson led this special group of players to the greatest triumph in the near 105-year history of Aberdeen Football Club, victory in the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup. In the quarter-finals, the Dons drew 0-0 in Munich before famously sending Bayern tumbling from the competition with a 3-2 home win, still regarded as a legendary night at Pittodrie. Now, the Bavarians are back for the biggest match at the ground in quarter of a century
“If we draw or even manage to beat them, we’ll have written a little bit of history ourselves,” declared manager Jimmy Calderwood (pictured), the man guiding the Dons through their first European campaign in four years. The recent 4-1 defeat to Dundee and a 5-1 home reverse against Celtic are already forgotten. “It won’t be difficult getting the lads ready for a game as big as this,” Calderwood remarked.
“We just have to move on from the last two results,” urged striker Lee Miller, the Dons’ leading Scottish Premier League scorer with eight goals. The chance to play against a top European club did not present itself very often, the 24-year-old continued, “so we should enjoy it right to the final whistle.“ Bayern know Thursday’s opponents are ready to battle until they drop.
“We’re complete underdogs,” offered Calderwood, who spied on Bayern’s away Bundesliga trip to Rostock. “I was very impressed by the first half. Bayern played Rostock off the park,” he reported. However, the Aberdeen coach was encouraged by Munich’s second-half struggles. “I saw enough to know they won’t have it easy when they come to us.“
Calderwood is battling a crop of injuries which has deprived him of Richie Byrne, Jamie Smith, Derek Young, Jackie McNamara and Richard Foster on Thursday. Furthermore, Stuart Duff is ineligible, as UEFA rules permit a maximum of three of the Dons’ four winter signings (Josh Walker, Alan Maybury and Dave Bus) to be selected. There was better news for the Scottish boss on Wednesday when Barry Nicholson, Zander Diamond, Darren Mackie and Andrew Considine reported fit.
“But we’re still without five of our best players,” remarked Calderwood, hoping home advantage could compensate. “With our passionate crowd behind us, it could be a memorable European evening.” The Scots are unbeaten in five UEFA Cup home fixtures. The current campaign has featured one home win (4-0 against FC Copenhagen) and two draws (0-0 against Dnepropetrovsk, 1-1 against Locomotive Moscow).
Recapturing former glories
Maintaining that form at home to Bayern would provide the Pittodrie faithful with their most memorable evening in 25 years. “People here still talk about the glory days,” revealed Calderwood, “if we win, a new generation will be able to tell their grandchildren about the night Aberdeen beat Bayern.“