Hot Goal Time Machine: Aberdeen

May 6, 2014

For a description of exactly what this series is about and how the idea was formed then be sure to read the open letter at the top of our opening blog. For the rest we’ll summarise: we’ve asked a blogger from every team in the Scottish top flight to recall their favourite goal from every season since 1998. In this edition it’s John Callan remembering the good times from some fairly barren years watching Aberdeen.

1998/99 – Mark Perry v Celtic – 16/08/98

This was an astonishing game. Aberdeen beat the league champions, Celtic missed two penalties (including a brilliant double save from Leighton) and an Alex Miller team scored three times in one game. While hindsight allows the biggest of fools make the right call after the event, football as a whole really should have called it a day after this one.

The finest strike of the game, one that is still vividly remembered many Dons fans, is Perry’s 30-yard thunderclap. He went up for a header and found the ball bobbling on his feet upon his return to earth. Without thinking, he unleashed a powerful, dipping thump into the top corner.

For all that he is remembered for being a little… rough around the edges, the grin on Perry’s face after that hit the net shows he felt like any other Dons supporter would to open the scoring against Celtic with a screamer. Which, frankly, makes it all the more enjoyable.

1999/2000 – Andy Dow v Hibs – 09/04/00

For a hitherto unspectacular left-back, not to mention one who hadn’t scored since a consolation goal for Hibs in January 1997, Andy Dow didn’t half carve out some cult status for himself during the 1999/00 season. He scored the Dons’ first goal of the league campaign (just the seven matches in) and notched in the madcap first league win at Fir Park (three games later). But, with the team unerringly rooted to the league’s foot throughout, his cup exploits that year are even more noteworthy.

Slamming in a late winner in the league cup extra-time defeat of Rangers at Pittodrie ensured that chants of ‘Andy Dow’s Barmy Army’ were heard, and not just due to a lack of anything else to shout about. It was his Scottish cup semi-final beauty against Hibs though, which sealed his alternative hero reputation. With twenty minutes remaining in extra time, Dow blootered an emphatic, right-footed, half-volleyed winner in from the edge of the area, ensuring the Dandies would be going to their first Scottish Cup final in seven years. The less said about which the better.

2000/01 – Eoin Jess v Dundee United – 23/09/00

This goal combines two of my favourite things when I was a loon: fitba trips to Dundee and Eoin Jess. This visit to Tannadice was a refreshing anomaly to another sluggish start to the season, with the Reds in control throughout and even showing the carefree temerity to score five in a single match. The best of the bunch was a masterful Jess free-kick, curled with pace into the top corner in front of the Shed End. It was to be his final goal for Aberdeen.

In a season dominated in goalscoring terms by close-range Arild Stavrum and Robbie Winters finishes, this moment of class just about sticks its head over the parapet. Or over the Dundee United wall, if you’d prefer.


2001/02 – Hicham Zerouali – Hibs – 16/11/01

Aberdeen had taken the lead in this 5.35pm Saturday evening clash (marketed by the club with a poster of midfielder Roberto Bisconti’s head crudely photoshopped onto the body of John Travolta, with the tagline ‘Saturday Night Bisco Fever’) with just two minutes to spare through a Robbie Winters header. Hibs spent stoppage time throwing everything at a stretched defence, with every available Aberdonian limb used to repel the ball from the Beach End goal. Hibs keeper Nick Colgan made his way up for one last corner but, with the ball immediately cleared, he faced a mad hundred-yard dash back to goal, one of football’s obscure delights.

Moroccan magician Zerouali picked up the ball on the half way line and dribbled it full-pelt towards goal. He needed just three touches to take it to the net, the last a casual tap from the edge of the area which sent it trickling goalwards, barely evading Gary Smith’s desperate chase on the line. By the time it was in, Zero was already half-way through his trademark somersault, ensuring that the goal remains testament to the swagger for which the Red Army loved him so much.

The icing on the cake came upon returning home, to see that Hicham’s post-match interview to the Sky cameras included the wonderful Morocco-Doric accented line: “I looked over my shoulder and naebdy was behind me.” Football is there to be enjoyed, and there were few players who made it more fun than our Zero.

2002/03 – Paul Sheerin v Livingston – 05/04/03

Signing Sheerin from Ayr United in January 2003 was something of a masterstroke from Steve Paterson.  Following a gallant exit to Hertha Berlin the previous October, the Dons won just twice before he opened his account in mid-February, after which he scored the seven in the following six games as the Dons shot their way to the 12-pint-dizzy heights of 8th.

The pick of Sheerin’s fine run came at Almondvale, or whatever it was called then. From an angle far more suited to a cross – which is exactly what cynics may argue he intended – that cultured left foot of his curled the ball beautifully into the far top corner to give the Dons an away win and some false hope that Paterson’s reign would be bearable.


2003/04 – Markus Heikkinen v Dundee – 21/01/04

If video footage of this goal exists, it has proved beyond me, so I can only hope my mind hasn’t elevated its quality over time. Anyway, the Finish defensive midfielder was eighty yards out, surrounded by dozens of angry lions and, as I recall, on fire. Or twenty yards out in a Scottish Cup replay at Dens Park, one of the two.

In a league of sclaffed finishes and wild punts though, his first-time hit of a blocked shot was notably crisp and venomous, with Heikkinen striking the ball so cleanly that it didn’t rotate once on its way past Julian Speroni, as if suspended by strings. It was representative of a player whose technical ability regularly outshone that of the side he was playing in. On this occasion, his goal spurred the Dons on to a 3-2 win.

2004/05 – John Stewart v Celtic – 27/10/04

In a season which saw a long-awaited turnaround in fortunes, Budgie’s goal victory was as memorable a moment as any. Although a Zdrillic-inspired win at Parkhead the previous season ended Celtic’s enormous unbeaten run at home, this had less of an element of fluke about it, and was still against a notably strong Celtic side.

After surrendering the two goal lead that the Reds had forged in the first five minutes, the match was poised at two apiece as it went into stoppage time. With seconds remaining, a clearance found Stewart isolated midway into the Celtic half. He made light work of Stan Varga, looping the ball over the Bulgarian and collecting on the far side, before nodding it down into his own path and drilling past David Marshall. It was a tremendously well-taken individual goal, worthy of the result it inflicted upon the champions.


2005/06 – Russell Anderson v Rangers – 14/08/05

Possibly the least aesthetically pleasing goal on this list. In fact, probably not even the best goal of this match, not when compared to Jamie Smith’s driven winner. But Russell’s diving header to open the scoring in this early-season tussle is one of my favourite goals any Aberdeen player has ever scored.

With the ball bouncing free in the Rangers penalty area following a free-kick, Anderson disregarded any personal safety and threw himself head-first at it, putting his skull where dozens would blanche at dipping a toe. He forced the ball over the line, but took a hefty boot to the chops from Julien Rodriguez in the process. After being mobbed by team-mates, Russell remained at the side of the Merkland Stand goal to receive treatment for a good few minutes after the restart. The home support were noticeably concerned; such was Anderson’s imperiousness at the time, taking the lead against Rangers at the expense of the captain wasn’t a favourable trade.

Eventually he made his way back onto the park and put in a heroic, possessed performance, as the Dons collected a tremendous 3-2 victory. Though I’d be surprised if he remembers it, that goal and the subsequent display from Ando is the perfect example of the desire and courageousness which has made him the most important Dons player of the last twenty years.


2006/07 – Barry Nicholson v Hearts – 06/05/07

Were I conceited enough to believe that former international midfielder Scott Severin would care about my opinion one way the other, I’d imagine he’d a be a little miffed by exclusion for this season. Seve’s belter against Hibs won Goal of the Season, while his thunderbolt against Rangers on the last day was crucial. But I doubt he’s too bothered about what I think, so let’s crack on.

My favourite strike in this campaign though, was the goal which all but secured Aberdeen’s highest SPL finish a week earlier. Aberdeen went to Tynecastle to face European-spot rivals Hearts, where avoiding defeat would leave at least a four point cushion with two games to go. As a veteran of several huge Dons games where the Reds had failed to live up to the big occasion, their performance that day was tremendous. They chased, harried, created and pressed, playing with the intensity that the game required. And yet, with a minute to go, they were still 1-0 down. This was all very troubling. Maybe this is why we always fail to show in big games. Maybe there’s no point in ever trying. Maybe there’s no such thing as a meritocracy. Maybe we’ll never get to win at anything.

In the dying seconds though, the ball was worked out wide to 40-year-old Craig Brewster. He slid a low cross along the six yard line. The ball moved at what seemed to be a snail’s pace, bobbling agonisingly along that line like a hubcap rolling down a hill. Christos Karipidis tried to hook it clear and Craig Gordon grasped at the air in its wake, but the ball looked like it was going to trundle harmlessly beyond the back post. All of a sudden though, Barry Nicholson surged into the goalmouth and slammed it in, causing utter pandemonium in the Roseburn. Maybe everything would be all right, after all. It was a goal so definitive, so important, that Nicholson dropped the mic and walked straight off the park. Or was sent off for removing his shirt, I can’t remember.

2007/08 – Jamie Smith v FC Copenhagen – 20/12/07

Frankly, every goal scored on that European run could stake a veritable claim. It took a heart of steel to omit the Dnipro Juggernaught, while both goals to take the lead against Bayern at Pittodrie were as momentous as they were composed. But Jamie Smith’s first against the Danes, far from his only spectacular finish for the Dons, was probably the best of the bunch.

Needing a win to progress from one of Uefa’s preposterous five-team groups, the first half was nervy and tight. The second half was a rout, and it was this goal which started it. With the ball bouncing loose in front of Smith, he leant back and swung out a perfectly straight right leg, in the style of a Subbuteo corner kicker. The lob found the far corner perfectly and, perhaps more importantly gave Pittodrie the hope that progress was well within our grasp. The team never looked back. During that game anyway, they looked back plenty in the years thereafter.


2008/09 – Darren Mackie v Hearts – 14/02/09

Chronicling Aberdeen goals over the last decade or so without mentioning Darren Mackie would represent impoliteness on an abominable scale. Whether he’s charging down Rab Douglas, standing in front of Alan Combe, back-post-loitering at Celtic Park or flying magnificently through the muggy Ukrainian night sky, his goals are normally a beautiful embodiment of human endeavour, of a desire to be in the exact place where no-one else can be arsed to go. Conversely, this goal isn’t really about effort or tenacity, but was probably the most technically challenging goal he ever scored in red.

A pre-competence Charlie Mulgrew launched a hopeful ball from left back which, by rights, should have gone through to the ‘keeper. Mackie raced forward to meet it on the edge of the area though and watched it float high over his left shoulder, before catching a perfectly-timed side-footed volley into the top bin. Chapeau, Dazzler.


2009/10 – Fraser Fyvie v Hearts – 26/01/10

In the highlight of an otherwise forgettable season, 16-year-old Fyvie’s performance in a dominant 3-0 win at Tynecastle was capped with a tremendously well-taken goal. He played on the right of midfield, tucked in narrowly and finding plenty of space with it. It was a performance befitting a 27-year-old at the peak of his powers, with the Hazlehead loon looking strong, composed and inventive, while he was frequently seen barking orders at club captain Mark Kerr. He burst into the box from deep and finished coolly to Marian Kello’s left to become the SPL’s youngest ever goalscorer.

It narrowly edges out Derek Young’s free-kick, the third goal from the same match. That it had enough managed to trickle over the goal line, let alone evade the clutches of Marian Kello, is something that still makes me question everything I’ve seen with my own eyes.

2010/11 – Paul Hartley v Hamilton – 14/08/10

The first day of the season is a beautiful time to be a football supporter. Unblemished hope, cheerful faces and beautiful sunshine are never so ubiquitous as week one. If only someone had cared to mention that the 2010 curtain-raiser was the best thing we’d see all year.

I doubt I’ll ever witness another hat-trick of penalties in my time on the planet and, as such, Hartley’s third remains the most positive memory from this season. And that includes runs to two cup semi-finals. Even when winning, McGhee’s team felt joyless.

While I can see how it may be perverse to choose a penalty – not least one which came at 3-0 up – as a favourite goal from an entire season, it’s either this or a Scott Vernon tap-in against St Mirren. Your move.


2011/12 – Kari Arnason v Dundee United – 02/01/12

While it would seem a touch daft and counter-intuitive to eschew the PFA Goal of the Season winner in favour of this strike, Rory Fallon’s semi-final howitzer against Hibs gave me very little pleasure. Goals are invariably defined by their context, and given the utterly appalling game which enveloped it, Fallon’s spectacular equaliser made me more indignantly angry than happy, like a customer who’d finally got a refund for a faulty kettle after months and months of dialogue with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Arnason’s goal however, came amidst a tense New Year’s derby match with Dundee United. After 5-minute-hero Mo Chalali equalised with 20-odd minutes left, both sides fumbled their way towards a winner. With some neat passing in midfield showing a typical lack of penetration five minutes from the death, Arnason collected the ball a good forty yards out. Clearly fed up with a move going nowhere, the Icelander unleashed a rocket from a virtual standing start, crashing in off the bar over a bemused Dusan Pernis’ head. And, as you and I both know, goals that go in off the bar are miles better than any other type of goal. Fact.

2012/13 – Niall McGinn v Hibs – 24/11/12

When he’s on form, McGinn is capable of seemingly winning matches on his own. For months last season, he seemed untouchable. At the peak of his powers, he was running at opponents, teeing up teammates and, more importantly, scoring all manner of goals.

While perhaps not his most picturesque, this one embodies the creativity and energy he showed at the time, in an important match that looked beyond Aberdeen. The November tussle with Hibs at Easter Road was, incredibly, a top-of the-table affair, and he started and finished a winning move just 13 minutes from time. Dropping deep to collect the ball, he laid it wide for Jonny Hayes. Hayes’ cross broke for McGinn in the box, and he somehow had enough composure to touch it past the last line of defence and place it beyond Ben Williams, giving the Dons what felt like an important win. In the end it wasn’t even remotely important, but how were we to know?


2013/14 – Peter Pawlett v St Johnstone – 01/02/14

Dons supporters have been spoilt by this season, to the point where it almost feels churlish to pick one goal out. If it were the best technical goal of the season, you’d probably have Willo Flood against Hibs, or Jonny Hayes against Celtic. Most important, then perhaps Peter Pawlett’s at Parkhead, or even Rooney’s penalty.

In terms of a favourite though, I’m going for Pawlett’s semi-final goal against St Johnstone, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is a perfect example of the surging, change-of-pace run for which he will be so fondly remembered this season, picking up the botched clearance and bursting into the box. At the time, I could have sworn he’d overran it too. Moreover, in such a crucial match, after a spell of sustained St Johnstone pressure, it provided a moment of sheer relief and unbridled joy, the like of which this challenging vintage of Dons supporter has seldom experienced.



If you’d like to hear more from John Callan then be sure to follow him on twitter.