It’s the conversation you could have with your pals all day – what is the best Dons goal you’ve seen?
Some of you will think it’s James Maddison’s unsaveably perfect free-kick against Rangers in 2016, others Eoin Jess’ run from halfway and incredible Ibrox howitzer in 1998 or maybe Neil Simpson’s mazy run to score in the rout of Waterschei in 1983.
Over the coming weeks, we’ve decided to try to settle the argument once and for all by crowning Aberdeen’s Greatest Goal via a reader vote.
To be clear, the multitude of features we’ll run on the contenders for Aberdeen’s Greatest Goal, followed by a closing poll to determine the winner, won’t necessarily focus on goals of significance which have secured silverware or qualification.
What we are talking about is goals of technical brilliance, made either individually or as a team, some of which could be meaningless in terms of competitions and silverware.
Today’s contender for the best Dons goal ever scored:
2. Alex McLeish, Aberdeen 4 – Rangers 1, Scottish Cup final (22/05/82)
In recent weeks, more than one member of Aberdeen’s early-80s golden generation has pointed to the 4-1 1982 Scottish Cup final win over Rangers, recently replayed on TV, as a seminal moment in Alex Ferguson’s Dons reign.
The victory in Glasgow kick-started a remarkable period which saw the same group of players also lift the national trophy, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and European Super Cup in 1983, before lifting the Scottish Cup again and the Premier Division title in 1984.
Rangers were in a period of transition in 1982, but had taken the lead in the first half on Mount Florida against the run of play through Gordon Dalziel.
Step up centre-back Alex McLeish, who – after John Hewitt’s corner had only been half-cleared to the left of box – swivelled and sent a sensational curling shot into the top-right corner to restore parity at 1-1. It was a superb display of technical ability from a man more renowned for his ferocious heading and tackling ability.
In the end, of course, it took extra-time to decide the ’82 final, with Gordon Strachan, Mark McGhee and, finally, Neale Cooper, who famously lashed the ball into the empty Rangers net, putting the result beyond doubt. Cooper’s goal may feature in our contenders list over the course of the next month.
What did McLeish have to say about his curling strike?
Speaking on this week’s Northern Goal podcast, McLeish said: “It was quite a significant goal because we were losing 1-0.
“I’d played against Gordon Smith in a Rangers game, and he walked past me and said ‘you never beat us when it matters’. That Scottish Cup final was the game that gave us the belief.
“I know we won it with four in extra-time, but getting the equaliser was very significant for us. We had to nail that, because Gordon was right in a sense on previous years.
McLeish’s goal was one of the moments discussed in this week’s Northern Goal podcast with the Reds legend:
“That for me was the game that cemented the mentality of that group of players. From there we went on to win the league again and won the Cup Winners’ Cup, the Supercup and were at the top in terms of European teams.”
He added: “It was a nice goal in terms of the style, a curler into the top corner, but it was significant for us to get back into the game.
“In the end the guys up front and big Tattie (Neale Cooper) walking in and smashing the ball into the net from a yard was one of these iconic moments.”