Football and reading, two of my favourite things. Combining them together makes me a contented fellow. Then when I add the team I support into the equation its this super amalgamation pastime. I have read over sixty Dons related books in my life. Still have them all too, all sitting proudly in a bookshelf in my living room. I have sixty-seven and the seven Aberdeen Football Historians in my collection. To my knowledge I am only missing (The Worst of the Red Final).
By Dons related I mean from out and out Aberdeen FC books like Jim Rickabys Aberdeen- “A Complete Record 1903 – 1987” or Kevin Stirlings Aberdeen- “A Centenary History 1903-2003”. But I also include Jocky Scotts – “Jockys Journey” where we have large chunks devoted to his time at the club , same as Eddie Turnbulls highly enjoyable “Having a Ball”. Then there are the less content type autobiographies by such ex Dons as Gordon Strachan, Ben Thornley, Alex Ferguson, Charlie Cook among others. We also have been treated to specific periods in history covered “Numbers on the Front” by David Innes and obviously Gothenburg related experiences such as Richard Gordons “Glory in Gothenburg”. There are even the two pavement dancing books which I suppose count aswell.
There are some great pieces out there and to pick ten was actually harder than I expected. Some were automatic picks and some were in then out then in again. Some were also never getting near for varying reasons, possible fiction, bitterness, pushy with certain subjects.But I think I have got there.
I think it would be rude not to give special mentions to the books that just about made it but found themselves teetering on the cusp. “Numbers on the Front” by David Innes is a good well researched read about the summer 1967 and the escapades of the Washington Whips over the pond. Another under rated tale is “Begg To Differ” from ex Pop Star and eh……… former celtic employee Ally Begg. Don’t hold the latter against him as his love for the Dons is clear here. I read his book in a one sitting, I was that into it. I have a lot of time for books from a fans point of view and thats definitely worth a read. Fergie has many a book on his life but his own first autobiography is a good read. A big read which I did in a day, but at the time of reading I was laid up in Woodend Hospital after reconstructive surgery to my ankle, there wasn’t much else to do. The best version of his life I would say, despite being missing a chunk of his down south career(but that’s not the important bits anyway). Pittodrie Idols by Paul Smith is a good read too. Exactly what it says on the tin. A book on the Idols to grace the Pittodrie pitch from man mountain Jock Hutton to ……..well Zander Diamond but its the good info on older players such as Graham Leggat, Doug Rougvie, Henning Boel and many others that make this good. Worth a read that’s for sure. Pretty much any book on the Dons is worth a read in all honesty. Then again there may be a couple of duffers.
So here they are, in my own humbl opinion in no order, the ten best books on by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen…………
The Dons:The History of Aberdeen Football Club
Jack Webster -1978 , revised 1990, revised 2003
Any Dons fan will agree, there is only one place to start. The magnificent “The Dons” by the equally magnificent late great Jack Webster. With out looking to offend anyone else who has written histories the Dons this the ultimate must for every Dons house hold. Comprehensive and very well researched. The detail found in it is awesome. I love imagining watching heroes of yesteryear like Jock Hutton, Benny Yorston and the 1954-55 Champions at the old Pittodrie and this book(s) made me do that. It is actually the only book I have read more than once. This being due the fact I have read all three versions. Its a shame the great man will not be around to revise again for the 125 years anniversary. Jack Webster and his books are integral parts of the clubs history.
The Aberdeen Men Can’t Play Football: An Early History of Football In Aberdeen 1881-1903
Fraser Clyne 2012
Is this cheating as its not strictly an AFC book? It’s worth putting in as it is a cracking read. I didn’t know about this book until well after it was released. I am very glad I do know about it now. A very in depth history despite being written by an Arbroath fan. Based mostly around Orion, Victoria United and Aberdeen (the original) . However it does cover the likes of Bon Accord (36-0), Aberdeen Rovers (35-0), Aberdeen R*****s, Britannia, Black Diamond and a host of other now defunct clubs from a bygone era. “Come on you Tartans” wouldn’t really have worked. This was talked about during the original talks for the new club. Also Hibs sniffing about renting Pittodrie to accommodate an NFL franchise type move? Well worth a read for any Dons fan.
Fergie Rises :How Britains Greatest Manager Was Made At Aberdeen
Michael Grant 2014
Written by journalist and Dons fan Michael Grant, this is the story of how Alex Ferguson started on his journey to becoming Sir Alex by working miracles over his 1978-86 reign at the Dons. Arguably the most impressive period of achievements than at any other stage of his career.(Anyone who thinks otherwise is an eejit). Good chapters on siege mentality, 1979 Cup Final, Ipswich, The
Gutte.…..I mean Glasgow press. Every chapter is good. My favourite thing about this book is Grant has dug deep with the detail and clearly dedicated an immense amount of time to perfectly document one of the most remarkable spells in Scottish….. if not European fitba. My favourite Dons related book bar none (if you discredit the Fraser Clyne book above as non Aberdeen)
Here We Go!
Words by Keith Anderson 1983
“Here We Go” by The Scotsmans Keith Anderson is fantastic. The photos and emotion through that book absolutely makes me wish I was born in the 60s so I could have been a part of it, instead I was born the following year and missed it all. The book could have no words and still be superb given the quality of the photos. I used to work with a guy who was in Sweden and every time I asked him about it he went into a dreamy state and this book shows me why. Best collection of photos in a fitba book? High possibility.
Aberdeen: Champions of Scotland 1954-55
Kevin Stirling 2004
A very underrated period in the clubs history that I have always thought Dave Halliday and his crew aren’t heralded to the extent they more than deserve to be. Considering it was the first time the pot made its way to Pittodrie. I find it a bit strange the lack of celebration made of the occasion. Kevin Stirling does a fine job of honouring Halliday and his bunch of merry men including the famous names of Archie Glen, Paddy Buckley, Jackie Hather, Harry Yorston et al . To think these men were robbed of being the first Scots to score in the European Cup through shenanigans allowing fifth place and fifteen point trailing Hibs a place in the inaugural tournament stinks to this day. However I digress. Its a good thing we have a guy like Kevin Stirling about to keeps the important history alive and this book is proof of his impeccable dedication to the cause. Never forget
A Light in The North: Seven Years With Aberdeen
Alex Ferguson 1985
Same subject as Michael Grants book but from the horses mouth. One chapter that makes it way in to Grants book twenty nine years later is one dedicated to Liverpool in the European Cup in 1980/81. This learning curve was huge in the building of the mans character. I would go as far as saying one of the main turning points in his management. But the book as a whole is good an we all know the start and the not so happy ending. What does shine through is the love Fergie has for his time at the club. I like the way book is written too. No fancy words, just straight out of the mouth of the man with what seems to be very little editing giving it a rawness and honesty. What ever happened to him once he left I wonder?
Behind The Goal
James Addison 1998
A sign of a good book is when you get through it is very little time. This meaning you have struggled to put it down. A book by a fan, right up my street. From his first game v Hibs in 1955 this is part his own memoirs but it also doubles up as a who’s who of the players the great players of the club over the years. From Fred Martin between the sticks to King Joey banging them in up top. But also in amongst is a couple of his old school teammates Colin and Blacklaw which brings him back to childhood. And for good measure he throws in local legend Denis Law and Hungarian goal machine Ferenc Puskas. Most importantly its also a guy getting his own story down and reminiscing about growing up in the 50s and 60s and loving fitba and especially Aberdeen FC . What’s not to like?
Never Again: 1994/95 A Season In The Red Zone
The Count, Bloo Toon, Nervuz, Old Beach Ender, Mainly Standing, Sparky and Gordon Reid 1995
The Red Final is one of the most underrated institutions in Scottish fitba. This may come across as completely biased for obvious reason but I genuinely believe this to be true. As I said earlier in regards to James Addisons book, I am a great admirer of books written by fans. Well how about a book about the one of the biggest horror show seasons in the clubs history written by fans. The season that you would not like to relive ever again. However it is worth it for a couple of hours to read funny takes on Stenhousemuir, the media taking us to bits , Willie Millers sacking and all the harrowing stories that accompany that grim year written by the TRF old guard. Which is of course backed up with the unmistakeable doodling skills of Gordon Reid. Then once you finish you can forget all about it again.
Part of a poor era in our clubs history but that doesn’t take anything away from this being a great read.You can’t knock honesty and this is very open and he does not hold back on the details. I have a lot of time who don’t try to sugar coat and go warts ‘n’ all. This is a great example of the latter. Reminds me of Paul McGraths excellent effort. He knows he had it sorted for life but made a mess of it and blames nobody but himself. (Unlike some other bitter autobiographies I have read).Fair play to the man from Mosstodloch as he’s very candid about the booze gambling, poor parenting etc. Well worth a read
On Fire With Fergie : Me, My Dad and the Dons
Stuart Donald 2010
I saved this one for last as it definitely struck a chord. More so now as I have my own kid which I didn’t when I read it.A fantastic book about Stuarts memories of following the Dons with his late dad. Something I did when I first went to Pittodrie and wherever and have a mountain of memories from those days. Now I’m aiming to create the memories for my Wee Man like Stuarts Dad and my own did for us. This even though my wee ankle biter wants to watch lower league just now and not the Dons. But my sentiments the same. This book is ace. Simple as. The best personal experience fitba book I have read and hopefully an inspiration for me to get my own father/son stories down on paper