For Dougie Bell, reflecting on Aberdeen’s hat-trick of Scottish Cup successes in the 1980s stirs up happy memories during difficult times.
The midfielder played in the 1982 4-1 final victory over Rangers and 2-1 success against Celtic in 1984 and watched the 1-0 win over the Gers a year earlier from the sidelines because of an ankle injury.
The anniversary of the first success in 1982 is tomorrow as goals from Alex McLeish, Mark McGhee, Gordon Strachan and Neale Cooper defeated Rangers.
Bell, 60, said: “I had been injured in the lead up to the final and didn’t think I’d make it but Fergie put me as sub and I came on for John McMaster after about an hour.
“Having not been fit and only expecting to last half an hour, I ended up playing an hour because of extra-time.
“That was a great win beating Rangers 4-1 and it was a big thing for the young players that had come through, they all did great and it was their first trophy, guys like Neil Simpson, Neale Cooper, Eric Black and John Hewitt.
“It was great times for Aberdeen and for those players that came through it was their first success really and they all went on to have great Aberdeen careers.”
Bell sat out the 1983 final 37 years ago today because of an ankle injury. Eric Black’s goal late in extra-time won the game.
It has become famous for Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary rant about a “disgrace of a performance” and claiming Willie Miller and Alex McLeish had played Rangers themselves.
Bell added: “That was a tough one for me because I played every game in that run except the final because I broke my ankle in the semi-final against Celtic.
“I sat on the bench during that final because I remember before the game John Greig and John McClelland spoke to me and said ‘really unlucky missing the Cup Winners’ Cup final’ because that was 10 days before and I’d missed it as well with the injury.
“It was disappointing but I can’t complain because Fergie used to involve me in most of the big games as a starter or a sub so I played in a lot of our big cup games over the years.
“When he (Ferguson) came into the dressing room after the game he started shouting and said the same thing as he had on the TV, he went nuts.
“I remember after the game at St Andrews we were sitting having our dinner and on the TV they were showing the highlights and it wasn’t the most entertaining game you’ve ever seen.
“The thing is years later nobody remembers how you did it, they just remember that you won the cup.
“I understand why Fergie was angry because we were on the high of winning the Cup Winners’ Cup and I think he was looking for the same performance, but he didn’t quite get it.”
Looking back on the 1984 final, and one particular memory, is poignant for Bell after his wife Hazel lost her battle with cancer aged 62 last month.
He almost scored the winning goal when his shot cracked back off the angle of post and bar and fell for Strachan to set up McGhee to find the net.
Bell said: “I curled that shot and I thought it was in, but it hit the juncture of post and bar and came out.
“At least we scored after that with Gordon Strachan setting up Mark McGhee. I would have loved to score, but the most important thing was always winning.
“We were on the bus with the wives after the game going to St Andrews and everybody was excited and Hazel said to me ‘that was great you scored the winner.’
“When I hit the shot everybody had jumped up and she hadn’t seen and everybody was still up on their feet when the ball went back across and Mark scored.
“She hadn’t seen so she just assumed I’d scored. So we had a laugh about that and it’s a great memory for me, particularly now, and so is that whole era.
“Looking back at these finals are good memories. After the first Rangers final we got married and then she was pregnant over in Gothenburg with our first daughter.
“I’m not sure if it was 100% true but there was the story that Fergie told her she couldn’t give birth before the final.
“They were great memories and Hazel was from Aberdeen so she went to all the home games with her Dad and her brother they loved it when Aberdeen were doing well.
“I suppose we were lucky because it was great time to be involved with Aberdeen, the best in the club’s history.”