Finale – Destination Glasgow

Aberdeen v Rangers; Rangers v Aberdeen; The Dons versus Glasgow Rangers.

The historical and cultural significance of a Cup final has never been more important whatever the tournament.

Just getting to a final is a sign of success and often a day of celebration for both sets of fans.

Some call it over-hyped and others call it a feisty affair but on this occasion it was part of a national narrative. While for Aberdeen supporters there are few positive sentiments expressed to the blue half of Glasgow where Rangers are concerned its fair to say that there is really only one club Rangers fans want to see lose every week and its not Aberdeen.

This was not, of course, the first time these two teams have ever met in a final but it was the first meeting for a while.

On a warm Saturday during May 2000 Aberdeen travelled to face Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final. This was to be goalkeeper Jim Leighton’s final game before retirement.

A veteran of three World Cup tournaments – 1986,1990 and 1998 the experienced goalkeeper was to last barely two minutes after a clash with Rodney Wallace. In goal went the Dons striker Robbie Winters and the final would be lost by 4-0.

On this particular Sunday the players came out of the tunnel into the open air, and the scene is just unbelievable.

Rockets and flares go off in both ends – some are thrown. Red, blue, red and white the smoke turned the cold evening air thick leaving a trail that would take some 8 minutes to clear.

Present day Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos thankfully lasted more than 5 minutes.

The Scottish League Cup is a knockout cup competition organised by the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) and is currently known as the Viaplay Cup. Despite being considered to be the second most important domestic cup competition in Scottish football after the Scottish Cup, its prestige has never diminished.

It is open to all 42 members of the SPFL as well as invited sides from the Highland League and the Lowland League.

The competition was established in 1947 and the first final was played in by both of today’s finalists – Aberdeen and Rangers.

Then 82,000 post war fans watched on at the same venue, some 30,000 more than in 2023, but still as powerful and as intoxicating for fans as it was at the first final.

The early exchanges were tight if for some far too attritional.

The Aberdeen side had reached this final on an ultra defensive ticket and manager Robson would no doubt shrug his shoulders at the lack of shots at goal. For him the first half was all part of the plan.

Aberdeen’s containment policy had worked in both the semi-final against Hibs and in European competition just a few days earlier when Eintracht Frankfurt were defeated.

The Dons did though lack a match winner unlike Rangers from Glasgow. James Tavernier proving to the thousands watching that one chance would be enough to seal the League Cup Trophy.

A Croatian to an Englishman who scored past a Dutchman and that was it.

Headers had sailed over the bar but Aberdeen’s only real moment of the match arrived nine minutes after the restart as Nicky Devlin’s perfect cross somehow evaded everyone inside the Rangers six‑yard box.

Concession of the goal did spark Aberdeen into some sort of attacking life but it was all too much of a goalmouth scramble and far too late.

To those of us who have seen it all before it was far from perfect a final. But to the hoards of day-out fans who follow on at Cup Final’s it all felt rather unsatisfactory.

Talismanic North-Macedonian striker Bojan Miovski was given scant opportunity to shine and he might not get another final – at least in Aberdeen red.