On Tuesday, it will be 30 years since Aberdeen last lifted the Scottish Cup, famously defeating Celtic on penalties at Hampden to complete a domestic cup double.
There have been near misses since the Reds lifted the old trophy for the seventh time, none closer than when current manager Derek McInnes’ team lost 2-1 to the Hoops in 2017.
Although members of the Red Army who weren’t even born by 1990 will have likely seen Theo Snelders’ shoot-out save from Anton Rogan before Brian Irvine fired himself and the 1989/90 squad – bossed by Alex Smith and Jocky Scott – into the history books, there will be some who don’t know the full story of the Dons’ run in the competition that year.
Here are the five Scottish Cup games which led to silverware:
Round three – Partick Thistle 2 – Aberdeen 6 (20/01/90)
The League Cup-winning Dons started their Scottish Cup quest away to eventual First Division mid-tablers Partick in what would turn out to be goal bonanza.
There was no Willie Miller, Theo Snelders, Hans Gillhaus or David Robertson due to injury, while midfield maestro Jim Bett was suspended, meaning the likes of Michael Watt, Ian Robertson and Willem van der Ark all started.
Callum Campbell scored for the Jags after two minutes, after the ball squirmed under Watt, before big Dutchman Van der Ark levelled from Alex McLeish’s low cross.
In what was an underwhelming start to a thrilling cup campaign, centre-back Irvine – Miller’s heir apparent – then chopped down Campbell to give away a penalty, and Chic Charnley put the home side back in front.
However, an angled finish from Brian Grant before the break made it 2-2 and seemed to extinguish any Thistle fire.
In the second half, Van der Ark lashed home another, Jim Kerr headed Paul Mason’s cross into his own net, before Skol Cup hero Mason made it 5-2 – despite being brought down in the build-up to his lofted finish – and Van der Ark completed his hat-trick with a perfectly-placed low effort from the edge of the area.
Round four – Aberdeen 2 – Morton 1 (24/02/90)
Smith and Scott’s charges got off to a shocking start at rain-soaked Pittodrie in this one, gifting the First Division strugglers (and their assistant manager, Gothenburg Great John McMaster) an opener from a free-kick hoofed from half-way which Tommy Turner turned past Bobby Mimms.
Both sides hit the woodwork chasing the second goal of the game, with Charlie Nicholas also seeing a one-on-one effort saved.
The Dons must have been given a rollicking in the Pittodrie dressing room at half-time, though. Hans Gillhaus headed the equaliser from Mason’s cross soon after the break, and – after a few close calls – Nicholas eventually smashed home from close range after the ball was poked through to him by Bobby Connor. Phew.
Quarter-final – Aberdeen 4 – Hearts 1 (17/03/90)
Long-time skipper Willie Miller was again missing for this last-eight clash, during what was a frustrating season for the great one, and didn’t play again in Aberdeen’s Scottish Cup run. He had suffered a knee injury on Scotland duty against Norway in November 1989, which would ultimately end his career.
Still, the Dons – in what would become a procession to the final – made light work of the Jambos.
Midfield dynamo Jim Bett scored the opener, cutting in off the left and sending an early shot past Henry Smith. The Reds were in charge, but John Colquhoun would later equalise after a stramash at a corner.
After the break Aberdeen ran away with it, Stewart McKimmie, Nicholas and Gillhaus combining for their second, before final hero Irvine lashed home to make it 3-1.
The fourth saw Gillhaus nutmeg Walter Kidd out wide, before repaying the favour with a cutback for Nicholas to finish.
Semi-final – Aberdeen 4 – 0 Dundee United (14/04/90)
Smith and Scott surprised everyone by including full-back David Robertson in their line-up for the last-four meeting at Tynecastle. He’d been out for months with a serious foot injury.
Keeper Snelders also returned from a knee complaint. These returns and sense of things coming together were perhaps, in hindsight, a sign Aberdeen’s glory day at Hampden was meant to be.
In what turned out to be a rout, final hero Irvine opened the scoring when he turned home Nicholas’ cross from close range after Alan Main had saved his first effort.
Just before half-time, future Don Mixu Paatelainen headed a high ball into the Tangerines’ area past his own goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
The Reds’ third was another nightmare for United, when Freddy van der Hoorn – under a little bit of pressure from Mason – comically hoofed the ball over Main from the edge of the area.
There was no fortune about the goal to make it 4-0, however, Dutch wizard Gillhaus taking down a long ball on the left of the box and thumping it low beyond the United goalie. Aberdeen were in the final at a canter.
Final – Aberdeen 0 – Celtic 0, Dons win 9-8 on penalties (12/05/90)
The part of story even the Dons fans who weren’t around to see it know.
After a goalless 120 minutes, there was no other way to settle the Hampden showpiece other than penalty kicks. Dariusz Wdowczyk missed the Hoops’ opener, before Grant failed to score with penalty number four for the Dons.
Aberdeen’s Nicholas – set to join Celtic after the summer – was notably successful with his effort to level things at 4-4 and send the shoot-out to sudden death.
On the unbearable tension of the moment from that point onwards, captain and penalty-taker number six McLeish told the Evening Express in January: “God, aye. (I can recall) the penalty, the penalty I had to take.
“It wasn’t the winning penalty, but it was a pretty important one. It was number six.
“Celtic had taken five, we had taken five and one player from each team had missed.
“I remember (co-manager) Jocky Scott saying ‘who’s taking the next one?’ and I said ‘I’ll take it’.
“He asked ‘are you confident you’re going to score?’ and I said ‘not really, but I don’t see anyone else volunteering’.
“So I took the long walk up, decided to stick to my favourite position, hitting to the goalkeeper’s left as hard and accurate as I could. If I did that I knew he wouldn’t save it.
“I scored. But I didn’t jump up and celebrate. I walked back thinking ‘thank … goodness’.”
Eventually, Rogan’s penalty was saved by Snelders, before Irvine blasted the winner to secure the trophy.
McLeish added: “By the time we got to 9-8 and Brian won it, the goalies were diving the wrong way and people were mis-kicking it and it was going in.
“We thought it was never going to end.
“Then Theo Snelders, as he said at his hall of fame induction, said he knew it was coming close to him taking one, so knew he had to save one – that was Anton Rogan.
“It was a great, great save. Theo timed it really well.”