Twenty years have passed since goals from Fergus Tiernan and Scott Michie earned Aberdeen their first Scottish Youth Cup since the Alex Ferguson era.
Drew Jarvie’s class of 2001 are still the last Dons team to defeat either of Glasgow’s big two in a Hampden final.
Here, we look at how the young Reds dismantled a much-fancied Celtic side — which contained future Scotland stars Shaun Maloney and Stephen McManus — and how they fared in football afterwards.
It was the Tiernan-Michie goalscoring axis responsible for earning the Dons their final say in the first place.
Both found the net in a 2-1 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park with a future Pittodrie stalwart, Darren Mackie, setting up both goals. Ross Forsyth scored a consolation for the Saints.
Yet the match was far from routine, as Michie recalls: “St Johnstone had a really good side, with Keigan Parker playing up front.
“They had loads of chances and really should have beat us but we snatched it.
“I remember after that game Drew kind of read us the riot act, saying if we played like that in the final we’d get hammered. But obviously he was still happy we’d got there.”
Some of the Dons squad were regularly playing under-21s football that season, too. The week before the final, 10 of them featured in a 3-1 defeat to Rangers.
This doesn’t seem that notable until you have a look at some of the names in the Gers line-up: Tony Vidmar, Jesper Christiansen, Allan Johnston, Peter Lovenkrands.
That’s three fully-fledged internationals and a guy who, a year on, would play upwards of 30 matches as the Ibrox senior side won a cup double. All of them, save Johnston, joined the Govan club for more than £1million.
“We were surprised to see all those big names on the teamsheet, guys who were full internationals,” said Michie. “But that was the season we’d run them really close in the under-21s. It was a league decider at Pittodrie so they brought up all the big guns to get the result.”
The Light Blues also threw in Marcus Gayle — a £1million signing from Wimbledon just a few weeks beforehand — for good measure. He scored one and set up another. Rachid Belabed nicked a goal for the Reds.
At the time, Dons coach Drew Jarvie had no doubt Rangers’ decision to play so many first-teamers had made the difference, telling the Evening Express: “The strength of Gayle in particular caused us a lot of problems. We had a few 17-year-olds out there… but the experience of facing some bigger-name players will have done them a lot of good.”
The Hampden roar
Maybe Jarvie was on to something.
A week later, over a thousand members of the Red Army travelled south to roar on their young heroes. They were not left disappointed.
The Reds came flying out the blocks at Hampden, going 1-0 up after less than two minutes when Celtic keeper Allan Morrison flapped at Bob Duncan’s in-swinging corner leaving Tiernan to poke home.
In contrast, Dons custodian Mark Peat repeatedly displayed his dexterity as the sturdy Reds backline repelled Celtic’s attempts for an immediate leveller.
Star Celt Maloney, brought up in Aberdeen and already with Old Firm game-time under his belt, struck the woodwork while Anthony McParland and Peter Flynn also went close.
The Dons had a shout for a penalty turned down when the marauding Mackie was clattered by a combination of Morrison and future Parkhead skipper McManus. Referee Charlie Richmond saw fit to book the Don for simulation instead.
But the Reds rearguard’s refusal to be beaten proved to be the perfect platform for a sensational second.
After another Hoops foray had been snuffed out, Stephen Payne launched the ball forward.
Mackie showed great strength to win the flick-on just over the halfway line before immediately setting off in support down the right.
YOUTH CUP | With the Final of the Youth Cup taking place at 7.30pm tonight (you can watch LIVE right here on the Scottish Cup Facebook) let's throwback to the last time Aberdeen Football Club lifted the Youth Cup trophy – a 2-0 victory over Celtic in 2001.
Posted by The Scottish Cup on Thursday, April 26, 2018
Michie controlled the ball with his chest and, spotting his partner in crime’s overlap, deftly hooked the ball over the Celtic defence into his path.
Mackie, bearing down on goal, slid a left-footed pass back through to Michie, who beat the onrushing Morrison to it in the nick of time to slot home with his left.
It was, Michie says, merely Jarvie’s gameplan executed as instructed.
“We were set up to catch them on the break,” Michie added. “We could definitely play football but we were out to be solid in midfield and at the back, then use our pace up front.
“Darren was absolutely lightning, Bob Duncan was on the left and I was up front — and a lot quicker than I am now — so we were a pacey team.
“We knew Celtic had tremendous players so we’d have to sit in and take our chances.”
Seeing it through
The killer blow may have been struck with just 20 minutes on the clock but the disposal job was completed over the next 70.
The granite-like Reds rearguard, granted occasional reprieve by some spirited counter-insurgency from the Dons attack, managed to stand firm in the face of Celtic’s relentless bombardment.
Michie has no doubt Jarvie’s decision to recruit Dons first-teamer Kevin McNaughton played a decisive role in seeing out the match.
We also got a bit of luck but sometimes you deserve that. We took our chances, they never. Ultimately that’s what it comes down to.”
He said: “Drew drafted in Kevin for the final, who was a big difference on the day. He was quality at the back, making sure everyone was organised to keep Celtic out.
“We also got a bit of luck but sometimes you deserve that. We took our chances, they never. Ultimately that’s what it comes down to.”
“It’s never easy playing the Old Firm in cup finals in Glasgow, no matter how old you are.”
Jarvie said that — and he had the right of it. This match is still the last time an Aberdeen team defeated either of Celtic or Rangers in a Hampden final.
The Dons boss was particularly pleased to send the travelling Red Army contingent back up the road thoroughly enthused about the club’s future.
It carried a special significance as the Dons fans had endured double Hampden heartbreak one season prior, watching the senior side reach the final of both the Scottish Cup and League Cup before falling to Rangers (0-4) and Celtic (0-2) respectively.
Jarvie said at the time: “There were around 1,000 of them but it seemed like 10 times more judging by the amount of noise they made. They roared the lads on from start to finish.
“The victory is for them because we know how desperate the fans are for any type of success.
It doesn’t matter what level it is, I know a lot of people will get a lift from seeing the lads do so well at Hampden.”
“It doesn’t matter what level it is, I know a lot of people will get a lift from seeing the lads do so well at Hampden.
“We got a special satisfaction out of knowing they went back home happy last night.”
Likewise, Michie remembers: “There was quite a good crowd at the semi-final in Perth as well but it was great to see over 1,000 Aberdeen fans come down for the final — between players’ friends and families and just genuine Dons supporters there to cheer on their youth team.
“It was brilliant for us to win it but it was just as good for them to see the young team win — it’d have made it an easier journey up the road! It was a brilliant day.”
What happened next: the starters
Mark Peat. Signed for Arbroath. Had spells at various clubs including Albion Rovers, Montrose and Stirling Albion.
Stephen Payne. Signed for Queen of the South as well as turning out for Stranraer and Broxburn.
Scott Morrison. The defender, from Kemnay, joined Dunfermline then Ross County, where he won the First Division title and the Scottish Challenge Cup. He also played for American sides Arizona and Phoenix before moving into coaching.
Terry Kidd. The Macduff-born midfielder spent time at Peterhead before moving to Dubai in February 2006, where he now runs a football academy.
Kevin McNaughton. Made over 200 appearances for Dons and almost 300 for Cardiff City. Won four Scotland caps while he also played for Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Caley Thistle and Forfar Athletic. Has since gone into coaching.
Murray McCulloch. Played for various Highland League clubs including Cove, Huntly, Keith and Inverurie Locos.
Darren Mackie. Went on to make more than 350 appearances for Dons. Mackie scored some important goals (although, despite what his Wikipedia article states, not 500-plus of them). His diving header against Dnipro which sent the Reds into the Uefa Cup group stages will live long in the memory. Spells in America and the Highland League followed.
Darren Mackie v Dnipro, October 2007. pic.twitter.com/ksnqaUUqv6
— DonsXtra (@DonsXtra) May 17, 2019
Ross O’Donoghue. Played for Elgin City on two separate occasions and turned out for a few central belt sides.
Scott Michie. Enjoyed fruitful spells at Montrose and Peterhead. Also spent time with Inverurie Locos. Now a business executive.
Fergus Tiernan. Turned out for Ross County, Dumbarton and Queen’s Park.
Bob Duncan. Donned the blue of Peterhead after leaving Pittodrie.
What happened next: the subs
Allan Carella. Spent time with Auckland City FC in New Zealand as the club won the 2009 OFC Champions League.
Duncan Jones. A Fort William boy, Jones also played for Montrose and Caley Thistle as well as Highland League sides Nairn County, Forres Mechanics and Clachnacuddin.
Murray Watson. Turned out for junior sides Shotts Bon Accord and East Kilbride Thistle.
Calum McHattie. Jailed for his involvement in a race-hate attack in Aberdeen. Appears to have left football after his release from Pittodrie.
Calum McKenzie. The Inverness-born defender went on to lift the Aberdeenshire Cup before leaving the Dons.
Almost double delight
Six of the squad – McCulloch, Morrison, Jones, Watson, McKenzie and Carella – returned to the youth cup final two years later against a Hoops side featuring soon-to-be Celtic regular Aiden McGeady, future Staggies legend Michael Gardyne and eventual Scotland internationals Charlie Mulgrew and David Marshall.
Richard Foster netted an equaliser for the Dons that day before Celtic pulled away to win 3-1 after extra time at McDiarmid Park in Perth.
Sean Martin is a digital sports journalist for The Press & Journal