Remembering Aberdeen hero Derek ‘Cup-tie’ McKay nine years on

Derek McKay scores the only goal in the Scottish Cup semi-final as Aberdeen beat Kilmarnock in 1970.

It’s doubtful if there will ever be another Don with a Scottish Cup fairytale as magical as Derek McKay’s.

Macduff loon Derek made just 19 appearances and scored only four goals during his brief Pittodrie career.

But what four goals!

Derek, who died in 2008 aged just 59, earned the nickname Cup-tie McKay, because all his goals were scored during the club’s glory run to lift the Scottish Cup in 1970.

Signed from Dundee at the start of the 1969-70 season, he netted the only goal in their quarter-final win away to Falkirk.

Derek did it again as they overcame Kilmarnock 1-0 in the semis at the now long demolished Muirton Park, Perth.

The perfect end to his fairytale came when he also netted a double as the Dons beat Celtic 3-1 in the final at Hampden.

Joe Harper was Aberdeen’s other scorer that day. He’s delighted Derek will never be forgotten by the Red Army for his contribution to their triumph in 1970.

“Derek was one of my best pals as well as a team-mate,” said Joe, who went on to become the club’s record scorer and now writes a weekly column for the Evening Express.

“I joined Aberdeen from Morton on the same day Derek arrived from Dundee.

“We hit it off instantly. We shared a flat and a caravan in Aberdeen and had a great time in what were our bachelor days.

“Neither of us could drive so we used to get the bus down to training every day. We got lost a wee bit on the way home sometimes, but we always had great fun.”

While Joe became an instant hit at Pittodrie, Derek found it hard to make the breakthrough into manager Eddie Turnbull’s team.

He only featured in the game at Falkirk because the Dons squad had been hit by a flu bug.

Turnbull asked the SFA to cancel the match but when they said no he turned to Derek, who was the leading scorer in their reserve side with 15 goals in 14 games.

Derek, who emigrated to Australia after leaving the Dons, returned to Aberdeen in 2005 for a reunion of the 1970 cup winning team.

He spoke to the Evening Express then and agreed if the flu bug hadn’t swept through the club he would never have played in that cup campaign.

Derek said: “I was so far out of the picture I was already making plans to move on again that summer.

“I was delighted when Eddie took me aside and said I would play at Falkirk.

“I played fairly well and managed to score the only goal, so that persuaded him to keep me in for the semi-final as well.”

Derek was always confident he could do well at Muirton, which was the home of St Johnstone before they moved to McDiarmid Park.

“Muirton had the biggest playing area in the whole of Scotland, which suited me to a tee,” said Derek.

“I always found plenty of space and it was great to get the only goal again.”

Aberdeen’s celebrations had to be curtailed because of a riot between the two sets of fans at the final whistle.

Derek said: “The bottles and cans were flying everywhere.

“It failed to dampen our celebrations, though.

“The game was pretty dire, but we scrambled through and that was all that mattered.”

Turnbull, not surprisingly, kept Derek in the team for the final.

His double in that sealed a famous win and ensured Derek is still remembered fondly by the Dons fans nine years after his untimely death, from a heart attack while on holiday in Thailand with his family.

Derek’s hopes of building on his cup heroics in 1970 were wrecked when he asked Turnbull for a pay rise.

Derek said: “Eddie told me I wasn’t going to get any more money and that he would sit me in the stand to teach me a lesson.

“He did, until my contract ran out.

“That was the end of my Aberdeen career.”

Derek then had spells with Crystal Palace and Barrow before playing in Hong Kong, South Africa and Australia, where he eventually settled.

He became a window cleaner and also worked as a hospital porter.

Derek survived serious injuries suffered when he was involved in a car accident near Perth in 2003 and always kept in contact with Joe.

The former King of the Beach End was devastated when Derek died. He tried to pay his respects at Derek’s grave during a visit to Australia earlier this year but couldn’t find it.

Joe said: “The graveyard where he was laid to rest is huge and there was no one there able to tell us where the grave was.

“It was upsetting because I still think about Derek a lot.”

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