The Gothenburg Greats, Aberdeen FC’s most successful and storied team, are to be awarded the freedom of the city.
The honour will be presented next May – 40 years after they felled footballing giants Real Madrid and claimed the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Alex Ferguson’s men went on to win the Super Cup seven months later, and the Dons remain the only Scottish club to have captured two European trophies.
A weekend of celebrations to mark the anniversary will surround the presentation of the top civic honour, lasting from May 12 to 14.
And as a sign of the esteem in which Aberdeen FC is held by city residents, councillors have agreed to also give the freedom of the city to the club itself.
It will be the first time it has been awarded in more than five years, and only the fifth presentation since 2000.
End of council clash over freedom of city
Aberdeen City Council voted to honour the Gothenburg Greats and their club during a meeting earlier today.
The decision came after months of bickering over who deserved the freedom most.
For a period last year, it looked likely to be awarded to NHS Grampian out of gratitude for the hard work of staff during the Covid pandemic.
That effort was spearheaded by Liberal Democrat leader Ian Yuill, now the co-leader of the council, and supported by the SNP.
However, that campaign had been quiet for a while by the time the Conservatives announced a plan to give the freedom of the city to Aberdeen FC on the 120th anniversary of the club’s creation.
It soon emerged the SNP – the largest party in the administration following May’s election – had independently decided it should go to the Gothenburg Greats.
Who will be honoured in weekend dedicated to Dons?
In the decades following the 1983 victory, two of the Gothenburg Greats went on to manage the Scotland national team.
A further two – goalkeeper Jim Leighton and club legend Willie Miller – later received MBEs for services to football.
All but one of the relatively young squad are still alive. Midfielder Neale Cooper died aged 54 in 2018, with a memorial event at Pittodrie drawing a large crowd.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary manager of the Gothenburg Greats, was awarded the freedom of Aberdeen in 1999.
Dons chairman Dave Cormack said: “We initially approached the council about recognising the phenomenal achievements of the players who brought European glory to the club in the 40th anniversary of their most memorable victory in Gothenburg.
“We did not expect the whole club to receive the freedom of the city but are obviously honoured.
“We will look forward to celebrating this accolade with all those who have contributed to the club’s success over the years including our incredible supporters.
“However, the focus of the weekend of May 11 next year will very much centre on the celebration of our Gothenburg Greats.”
Club clash set aside… For now
Meanwhile, the club has been honoured for its massive contribution to city culture since it was founded in 1903.
Relations between the club and the council administration have frayed in recent weeks, amid a disagreement over funding for a potential new stadium at the beach.
Mr Cormack said councillors were “missing the point” of the project and its potential benefits to the city.
But co-leader Ian Yuill declared to the P&J: “We are not in the business of funding football stadiums.”
Any underlying animosity was set aside for a few minutes at the meeting, though, as members paid tribute to the impact of the club on them and the city.