Date: 6th June 2008 at 1:24pm
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12.04.08 was the date that made history for Queen of the South, and later on, Aberdeen. It was Queen of the South’s first Scottish Cup semi-final in 58 years. Queens supporters had travelled from as far as New Zealand for this one. I myself had travelled from Dubai. One-hundred-and-seven buses, 15’000 Aberdeen fans, made their way to Hampden for the 12.30 kick off. I unfortunately found myself sitting in the family section, and was sitting in front of a woman who knew nothing about football. She would shout things like ‘take him on’ and 3 seconds later when the player would take his opponent on and lose the ball she would shout ‘arrghh Foster you should have passed to Maybury’. Not only this, but I was the only one standing in the family section, right in the centre of it, and I was trying to get everyone else to do the same. She kept telling me to sit down and when we went one nil down and I shouted something that rhymed with chuck cough, she had a go at me for that as well. Yes, in the 22nd minute ex-Aberdeen Steve Tosh put Queens ahead. Aberdeen were playing terribly, but Andy ‘semi-final’ Considine scored an equaliser in the 36th minute with his head. Aberdeen were rightfully booed right off the park at half-time. Come the 50th minute, Mystic Meg wouldn’t have been able to tell you what would happen in the next ten minutes. Burns scored for Queens. Two minutes later, Barry Nicholson blasted the ball in from two yards. Another two minutes past before O’Connor made it 3-2 Queens. And another two minutes went before Andrew Considine came out of nowhere at the back post to make it 3 apiece. But, in the same minute, ex-Aberdeen John Stewart had come on as a sub and scored what proved to be the last of the afternoon. In the last few minutes, Zander Diamond hit the crossbar and then the post within the space of 3 seconds. Barry Nicholson’s point blank header was also saved by the keeper who knew nothing about it. As Scott Severin recently said, had we scored Queens probably would have gone up the park and scored again. The players had disgraced the Aberdeen shirt. Everyone of them. No excuses, they were all a pile of crap. This time, thousands of scarves and shirts made their way onto the Hampden turf, with a damp red and white bar scarf laying on the grass filling the back page of the Evening Express that Monday. That day, Aberdeen lost a lot of fans. Not just stay-aways, but hardcores too. I really felt like packing it in there and then and becoming a full time tartan army footsoldier – a follower of a team that gave 100%, fought for their colours and played half decent football.

But for some reason, I’m one of those people that just doesn’t do that. I was one of the 150 or so that made the trip to Parkhead the following week for the game against Celtic. I happilly helped hold up one of the three banners saying ‘LAST WEEK WAS PATHETIC’, ‘RESTORE SOME PRIDE’, ‘FIGHT FOR OUR COLOURS’. Calderwood made the players go right up to the fans before they went down the tunnel to get ready for the game and made them applaud our efforts, which made up for the theirs. We did just what the banners said. In the first 10 minutes or so, the ball fell to Severin 25 yards out. He hit it on the half-volley and the ball cannoned off the left post, trickled across the line, hit the right post, and Boruc picked it up. It was 0-0 at half time but 10 minutes into the 2nd half Samaras gave Celtic the lead with his head. It really papered over the cracks that he was crap. With 5 minutes to go, Nicholson fought for the ball on the edge of the box, he found space, played it across the face of the goal. Lee Miller had to make contact, and he missed the ball. He hit the ground about a yard before it. I could hardly take it. I felt like walking out right there and then. But in the last minute of stoppage time, we had equalised. Or had we?! Foster played a long ball up to Diamond who headed it on to Nicholson. He played it to Diamond who smashed the ball past Boruc and we were going crazy. But somewhere in that play, the referee had blown his whistle. It later turned out to be for handball, against Diamond?! When Diamond jumped TV pictures show his hands were actually by his side, not even in the air! We were cheated. And Iain Brines mistake had cost us a place in Europe. Well, not yet it hadn’t.

The way we bounced back from Queen of the South was good to see. The week following we met Hibs at Pittodrie. In the 54th minute, Dean Shiels put Hibs ahead. But Darren Mackie got his first league goal of the season 9 minutes later to level it. Lee Miller then won a penalty with 20 minutes left on the clock and smashed the ball past the keeper. Motherwell’s draw with Dundee United meant we were still in the race for 3rd.

One week on, we played Dundee United. In an end to end encounter, Ricky Foster of all people gave us a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. In the 3rd minute of the 2nd half, Dutchman Karim Touzani, on his first start in the SPL in yonks, got his first ever goal for the club. His backwards diving header proved to be the winner, as a minute later Danny Swanson made it 2-1 after being allowed to dance through 5 Aberdeen players. But Aberdeen held on and the dream was still alive.

But, a week later, the dream ended at Motherwell. Controversially. With 5 pounds entry for all, the stadium was packed and there was a large Aberdeen support. In the 61st minute, one of the Smith’s put Motherwell ahead. Four minutes later, Jimmy ‘I hate Josh Walker’ Calderwood, substituted Josh Walker, who had been Aberdeen’s only attacking threat the whole game. Again, Calderwood was verbally attacked by the Aberdeen support. Why he had to replace Walker with Aluko is what we don’t know. But with his first touch, Aluko scored one of the best goals the SPL has ever seen. Darren Mackie curled the ball up and over the whole ‘Well defence and Aluko ran in at the backpost and volleyed it with his left foot into the far right corner of the net. That glorious smack when the ball makes contact with the boot was clearly audible on TV. Goals like them are just something you don’t see in Scottish football. And five minutes later, it should have been two one Aberdeen. The ball was flicked on from a throw-in to Barry Nicholson at the far post who volleyed softly into the top corner of the goal. The goalkeeper scooped the ball out when it was more than a yard over the line and the referee never gave it. The fact that the whole Aberdeen team and support were celebrating gave that away at the time. And in the 81st minute, Aberdeen paid for that when Motherwell went 2-1 up through Porter, and sealed 3rd spot and European football.

Our last game of the season was still meaningful though, because Rangers were visiting Pittodrie. They could have lifted the league trophy on our soil. In a fiery end to end game, we took the lead in the 63rd minute through Lee Miller. Lee had just signed a new contract mid-week, and you get all those conspiracies about players playing well when their contracts are running out, but it was obvious it was otherwise with Miller. Because 14 minutes later, Miller set up Aberdeen’s 2nd. He flicked the ball on to Mackie, who poked the ball past Alexander and made it 2-0 on the Thursday night. Pre-match, Jean-Claude Darcheville claimed Rangers could win 6-0 and win the league on goal difference. Him and Cousin had been substituted for being rubbish in general the whole game. And his replacement, Novo, didn’t really turn the game around as planned. Stuart Duff slid in and won the ball, albeit after the whistle had gone for an offence seconds earlier, and Novo came in and studded Duff’s knee. He was immediately shown red. Leaving the park he gave some sort of x sign with his fingers to the Rangers support and for some reason they applauded him back. I don’t know why because he’d just ruled himself out the Scottish Cup final. Results elsewhere meant we’d stopped Rangers winning the league and we’d finished 4th.

On paper, it was obviously a fantastic season. Fourth in the league, two domestic semi-finals and the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. But that would be judging a book by its cover. When you open the book you’ll realise we threw away 3rd with stupid results like 1-1 Gretna, 3-3 Hibs and 1-1 St Mirren. That we were totally embarrassed in both semi-finals. The results against Celtic, Dundee United and Queen of the South is something that the players and us will have to live with forever. But as the guy sitting next to me against Queen’s Park last season said, ‘there’s always next season’. Next season we should be aiming high. Europe, a cup and some bloody decent football please.