i remember these new year derby games well,thanks to the writer for the memories
The Dons have been playing Dundee FC in top League football since November 1905 when the two met at Dens Park in front of some 12,000 fans. The game didn't go well for Aberdeen who managed to succumb to the tune of 6-0. In fact it took until February 1908 for Aberdeen to overcome the Dens Park side in any competition (and there were many: East of Scotland League; Inter City League; High Cup and the odd friendly. That win was in the ever popular Scottish Cup when at the third attempt the Black & Gold finally overcame the Dee in a second round replay at neutral Hampden Park with a scoreline of 3-1 and a crowd of 24,000.
The fixture was growing and club officials were clearly realising the value of it to both sides and so Aberdeen's first Derby fixture had arrived. In the January 6th edition of the Bon-Accord weekly magazine, their sports' columnist wrote: "The newarrangement arrived atbetween Dundee and Aberdeen whereby New Year's
Day fixtures in the League to be played alternatively at Dens Park and Pittodrie has come to stay. No onewho was at Dundee on Saturday will deny this, for some 12,000 spectators were crammed into the enclosure, and they gotsplendid value for their money. It only remains for the Aberdeen spectators to patronise the venture in the same numbers when their turn comes, and the fixtureis assured for all time."
August 1912 saw the first occasion when a crowd of 20,000 was reached at either Pittodrie or Dens, the latter being the venue on this occasion with the crowd witnessing a comfortable 3-1 victory for the Aberdeen men. Pittodrie didn't see a crowd of that size against their inter-City rivals until after the Great War, when 20,000 turned out for a dour New Year's Day goalless draw. A few weeks later the Scottish Cup third round tie at Dens Park drew an impressive 30,000 with special trains ferrying many from the Northeast. It took a further two matches for Dundee to overcome and progress to the next round.
So Aberdeen's true Derby Match, against their greatest rivals was well established and the fixture was reliably there season after season. The crowds fluctuated according to how the two teams were faring in the League but the
y were always amongst the healthiest on the card. Dundee United first appeared as a fairly regular opponent in 1925 but were seen as a far less attractive fixture by Aberdeen supporters and, indeed, they were seldom in the First Division. By the 1930's it was Pittodrie that tended to host the larger crowds for the meetings and in season 37/38 Dundee were relegated for the first time leaving the Dons without a Derby match to look forward to in 38/39. After that the Second World War ended the possibility of the Derby resuming as Dundee FC shut up shop for most of the duration. Of course there was football during most of the War period and Dundee United became regular opponents in the Eastern League.
By 1947 Dundee were back in the First Division and although there had been a few cup-ties in the preceding couple of years, "hostilities" could now be resumed. Dundee were entering a strong period of their history under the guidance of one-time Aberdeen goalie and Club Director, George Anderson, and of course David Halliday was building a competitive force at Pittodrie. Results ebbed and flowed but the fixture remained hugely popular and it was only cup-tie crowds, or occasionally those for Celtic or Rangers, that could exceed the home attendances between these two historic rivals.
Through the 1960's, with the decline of the Dons' onfield performances, the Pittodrie crowds fell away although the rivalry with Dundee was no less intense and whenever there was a New Year's Day fixture the crowds would eagerly turn out irrespective of form. Meanwhile Dundee United were becoming a more regular opponent but crowds tended to be smaller when the Dons played them up until they met at neutral Dens Park for a Scottish Cup semi-final in 1967 when 41,500 crammed in to see the Dons win by a single goal.
After that Dundee seemed to weaken gradually as Dundee United came to the fore, especially under Jim McLean, and the arrival of Alex Ferguson saw that rivalry grow and intensify, leaving Dundee in the shade. Indeed, Dundee were relegated again in 1976 and have had something of a yo-yo existence between Premier and First Divisions ever since, sadly rendering the Bon-Accord's prediction of the fixture being assured for all time a little wide of the mark.
Since 1903 we have played against Dundee in a total of 318 matches of all types with 138 wins, 91 draws and 89 defeats. There have been 521 goals scored and 416 conceded so the Dons definitely have the edge but that is all the more reason to keep focussed on trying to win the next one. There have been a couple of other clubs that Aberdeen have played more often and with more of the games competitive fixtures rather than friendlies and minor tournaments, but they are not local rivals and those matches have a rather different complexion to them.
Dundee are back in the SPL this season, albeit in difficult circumstances, and Red Army traditionalists will be hoping that they can secure a more regular place in the top flight so that our most traditional of rivalries can be restored. For this week, though, with a traditional Saturday fixture played at 3:00 o'clock, it would be fantastic to see a tip of the beanie hat to history and a bumper crowd turning out for the true Derby Match.
Source: Dundee Mad