Saints victories over the Dons in the League Cup

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Aberdeen, 28th November 2020)

On the opening Saturday of season 1949/50, St. Mirren met Aberdeen at Love Street in League Cup Division A / Section A (as it was then called) before a crowd of 25,000. St. Mirren dominated an under-strength Dons eleven, which was further tested when both inside-forwards, Hamilton and Glen, were injured in the first half. In those pre-substitution days, the visitors therefore had to play much of the match with only nine men. First half goals by Saints’ Alfie Lesz and Johnny Deakin, either side of an Archie Kelly counter for the Dons, and a further goal from Gerry Burrell six minutes from time made the final score 3-1. Unfortunately, both sides ultimately failed to progress from the section, which was topped by Rangers, with Celtic in second place.

St. Mirren v Aberdeen LC 1949

St. Mirren v Aberdeen LC 1949

The eight-page match programme, issue no. 20, continued the format which had been introduced at the start of the previous season. The “Club Notes” extended a hearty welcome to Aberdeen and remarked that, although there were few new faces in the two teams from the previous season, Dons’ manager (and former Saint) Davie Halliday had made great efforts to strengthen his side’s defence by signing a new back from Ireland.

Mention was made that the teams were being paired again in the same League Cup section (in fact it was for the third season in a row). Saints had only achieved a draw from the previous season’s League Cup encounters, but the fact that they had triumphed in both League games against the Dons was seen as cause for optimism.

The centre pages consisted of adverts from local businesses, surrounding the proposed team line-ups. The relative consistency of selections in those days meant that the only change from the printed 2-3-5 formation was that Saints’ centre-forward Alex Crowe replaced Arthur Milne.

More Club Notes appeared on page six and congratulated the Chairman and workers on the close season ground improvements, and also groundsman McAulay for his hard work in tending to the playing surface. More adverts and the obligatory Half Time Score Board brought the issue to a close.

This programme is quite difficult to obtain for a variety of reasons and can easily fetch a high double figure sum when a good condition copy does appear.

Sixty-three years later, on 30th October 2012, an entirely different programme experience welcomed the 7,610 fans as they headed to Pittodrie for the League Cup Quarter Final clash between the sides.

Aberdeen v St. Mirren LC 2012

Aberdeen v St. Mirren LC 2012

Aberdeen’s 64-page publication, with a cover illustration by Paine Profitt, was stuffed full of contemporary and historical reading material and contained very few adverts. At least nine pages of text and photos covered previous League Cup clashes between the Clubs, including the 1955 Final, and further articles detailed many of the Dons’ other League Cup successes. Two pages were devoted to profiles of the St. Mirren squad and there were features on former Aberdeen players, the European scene, and even about other sports! It was no wonder that this programme topped that season’s Scottish Premiership Programme of the Year awards, as indeed it has done for the past two decades.

In the match, the home side created a few chances in the opening stages, but it was St Mirren who took the lead after 6 minutes when Sam Parkin nodded in a rebound from a Steven Thompson header. The Dons drew level on 22 minutes when Scott Vernon took advantage of some slack goalkeeping by Craig Samson to head home and the teams went in all square at the interval.

St Mirren regained the lead on 69 minutes with a stunning Kenny McLean strike from just outside the box. Aberdeen responded, but Steven Thompson almost put the game out of reach when his header struck the post. Just as it looked like Saints would hold on for the win, Josh Magennis equalised in the second minute of stoppage time to take the Quarter Final into extra time.

With no further scoring during the extra 30 minutes, the match went to penalties. St. Mirren scored with their first four spot kicks, whilst Aberdeen missed their first. With the scores at 4-2, Craig Samson then saved Cammy Smith’s effort to put Saints through to meet (and beat) Celtic in the Semis, and subsequently to defeat Hearts in the Final.