Find Joe. A heated debate on social media last week swirled around the Aberdeen defender Joe Shaughnessy who found himself at the centre of a prank from his team-mates.
While Shaughnessy was enjoying a first date his Pittodrie team-mates had taken it upon themselves to spread the word of his dinner engagement.
A signed Niall McGinn shirt was offered to anyone who could provide photographic evidence of the Dons player’s whereabouts and the prizes on offer escalated as match tickets, a frame for the shirt and a free meal joined the list.
Defender Mark Reynolds even roped his son Lucas into the teasing, with bathtime becoming an ideal photo opportunity for Lucas to spell out Find Joe on the bathroom tiles.
Somehow, despite the growing clamour, Shaughnessy and his mystery woman escaped unscathed – but with Jamie Langfield claiming the prizes are being rolled over for the next date, Shaughnessy knows he is on borrowed time.
He said: “I didn’t tell anyone, I think Nicky Low dropped me in it. We went to an Italian and I couldn’t believe how much it got out of hand. I’ve had a lot of people coming on to me about it as the news spread back to Ireland quickly. It was very funny.”
The camaraderie at the club is clearly strong and Shaughnessy credits manager Derek McInnes in creating a strong bond on and off the pitch among the players.
Shaughnessy said: “The dressing-room is the best it has been in my time here.
“The manager is the main one who wants us to socialise together so we become a really tight group.
“We also go for lunch every Thursday after training and it certainly seems to be working out on the pitch. We all stick together regardless of the situation we are in.
“You can rely on your team-mates and you know they will also watch your back.
“We have a few golf days. I was out on Sunday with Jonny Hayes watching the All-Ireland Gaelic football final between Mayo and Dublin.
“We do lots of things together and we also have a day out at the races planned.
“We do quite a lot together especially during the international weeks. It is good to get all the lads together.”
With four clean sheets in a row and the Dons winning back to back matches, the positive atmosphere is clearly working at Pittodrie, but resolve will be put to the test when they swap league duty for a tricky League Cup tie at Falkirk tonight (7.15pm).
The cup competitions have not been kind to the Dons with the club’s last final appearance coming in 2000. Exits to lower league opponents have become so regular an occurrence that they are no longer regarded as shocks, a grim statistic Shaughnessy is all too aware.
He said: “I have been sitting in the stands, watching, when we have lost to so-called lower teams.
“It is a big thing for the supporters to get a run in the cup.
“We saw that in the two seasons when we got to the two semi-finals, where we lost to Celtic on both occasions in 2011.
“It is a huge thing and the aim is to get a run in both the cups.
“We have already beaten Alloa in the League Cup and hopefully we can keep it going.
“The higher division team is always going to be the favourite going into any cup tie.
“Falkirk are also a good side and they play good football. We know it won’t be easy and we will need to play it as a cup final.
“We have to approach it like that or we will have no chance of actually getting to the cup final.
“Hopefully the result will then follow.”