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Aberdeen legend Steve Archibald lifts the lid on why he booted a ball in anger at Sir Alex Ferguson

Pittodrie legend Steve Archibald in action for Aberdeen.
Pittodrie legend Steve Archibald in action for Aberdeen.

Aberdeen legend Steve Archibald has revealed why he once booted a ball in anger at Sir Alex Ferguson.

Goalscoring great Archibald netted a memorable hat-trick in a 3-2 League Cup quarter-final defeat of Celtic in 1979.

As was tradition, Archibald kept the hat-trick match-ball.

Sir Alex had other ideas and demanded he return it to the club.

Furious, Archibald obliged.

The next morning he opened the door to Fergie’s office and blootered the ball off the roof – as the manager drank his tea.

Goalscoring legend Steve Archibald in action for Aberdeen .

He said: “When I scored three goals against Celtic, I think I merited taking the hat-trick ball home.

“The next day I came in and Teddy Scott had told the manager I had taken the ball.

“Teddy was on top of everything and a fantastic man. I loved Teddy.

“The manager said: ‘where’s the ball?’

“‘What do you mean?’

“‘You took the ball.’

“‘I scored a hat-trick against Celtic,’ I said.

“‘Aye. And so?’

“‘It’s the hat-trick ball,’ I said. ‘I get to keep it.’

“‘Get the ball back in here.”

Steve Archibald scores in a 3-2 defeat of Rangers at Pittodrie in January 1980.

‘I was raging and went home to get the ball’

In the hat-trick game, Aberdeen had fallen behind after only one minute to a goal from Icelandic defender Johannes Edvaldsson.

However, Archibald came to the rescue with the perfect hat-trick.

He scored the first with his left foot, the second with his head and rounded it off with a right-footed strike.

Davie Proven netted to make it 3-2.

Steve Archibald in action in the 2-1 League Cup semi-final defeat of Morton at Hampden in the 1979-80 season

Despite his scoring heroics, Fergie would not let Archibald keep the ball.

He said: “I was raging and went home and got the ball.

“I came back into the club in the morning and he was sitting having his tea in the wee office beside the first team dressing room.

“Pat Stanton (assistant manager) was sitting there as well, drinking his tea.

“I opened the door and booted the ball in. It hit off the roof.

“Pat just looked, lifted his cup and saucer, so it didn’t spill and kept drinking.

“He just ignored it. But Fergie jumped off his seat.

“Anyway, he got his ball back.

“I think I deserved that ball.”

Strike partner Joe Harper congratulates Steve Archibald after he had opened the scoring at Hampden in the 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Hibs in the 1978-79 season.

Cup final heartache but title joy

Aberdeen would go on to finish the job by beating Celtic 1-0 in the second leg at Parkhead to triumph 4-2 on aggregate.

They would lose the League Cup final 3-0 to Dundee United in a replay at neutral Dens Park following a 0-0 draw at Hampden.

In the Scottish Cup semi-final that season, the Dons lost 1-0 to Rangers.

It was the first time in seven attempts in the 1979-80 campaign Rangers had beaten Aberdeen.

However, there was silverware joy that season because Sir Alex led Aberdeen to an historic league title.

It was Aberdeen’s first league title since 1955, with Archibald’s goal haul pivotal.

He netted 22 times in all competitions that season, and it was a goal tally that prompted Tottenham to sign him for £800,000 at the end of the season.

The start of an era of dominance

Archibald has no regrets about coming so close to adding even more silverware to the league title in his final season at Pittodrie.

He said: “It was a shame we didn’t win the League Cup final.

“We tried to win it – but there is no regret because we got the league title.

“Through that season we did as much as we possibly could.

“It would have been great to win the cup final, but sometimes circumstances go against you.

“We did our best. All of us. We got the league title and that was the start of a team that went on to achieve fantastic things.”

Pittodrie goalscoring great Steve Archibald nets  in a 4-1 defeat of Celtic in October 1978.

Trophies with Spurs and Barcelona

Winning the league title was the first landmark in what would be a stellar career for Archibald.

He won two FA Cups with Tottenham (1981, 82) and the UEFA Cup (1984).

Spanish giants Barcelona then signed the striker in a £1m move in 84.

He was to take on the No.10 jersey of legend Diego Maradona.

Archibald’s first goal was in a 3-0 win over Real Madrid in El Clasico in the Bernabeu,

He would go on to win the Spanish title and play in the European Cup final in 1986, losing on penalties to Steaua Bucharest.

Special players at a special time

Archibald retains a close affinity for Aberdeen and will be back in the Granite City in March to relive the highlights of his career.

He will be at the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen on March 16 for a Q and A session.

Archibald said: “That Aberdeen team was fantastic, as they went on to prove.

“They built on what we had achieved in winning the league title.

“Alex Ferguson was the man who took us to the title and pushed us over the line to do it.

Steve Archibald playing for Barcelona against Juventus.

“He did a fantastic job and was able to motivate people and give us the right mentality.

“That was absolutely vital.

“When you have to go to Glasgow and beat Rangers and Celtic on a regular basis, it’s not easy.

“It’s not easy now and was more difficult back then.

“It was a real feat to win the title.

“We had a fantastic team and great manager.

“The players worked really hard, but there was also a lot of determination, desire, mentality in that team

“They were special players at a special time.”

Steve Archibald in action for Aberdeen during the 1979-80 league title winning season.

ABERDEEN: Clark, Kennedy, Considine, Garner, McLeish, Miller, Strachan, Archibald, Harper, McMaster, Scanlon. Subs Jarvie, Bell.

CELTIC: Latchford, Sneddon, McGrain, Aitken, MacDonald, MacLeod, Edvaldsson, Provan, Conroy, McAdam, Doyle. Subs; Lennox.

Scorers: Aberdeen; Archibald (6, 29, 61). Celtic: Edvaldsson (1),  Provan (70).

Attendance; 24,000

Referee; G Smith

For tickets to see An Audience with Steve Archibald in Aberdeen at the Tivoli Theatre on 16 March, visit

Meet-and-greet VIP packages available.