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Scott Booth: Aberdeen as a club, the only club in the city, have lost their way


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Scott Booth: Aberdeen as a club, the only club in the city, have lost their way

 

Published on Sunday 8 April 2012 01:37

 

The former Aberdeen and Scotland striker tells Paul Forsyth it’s time to turn Hampden red again

 

SCOTT Booth calls it a “wash of red”, by which he means tens of thousands of long-suffering Aberdeen fans providing the backdrop to one of Scottish football’s biggest occasions, a visual reminder, as if it were needed, of the potential just waiting to be fulfilled at Pittodrie.

 

In Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final, their colours will be splashed once again across the Hampden canvas, together with those of Hibernian, another of Scotland’s heavyweights punching below their weight. For both clubs, it will be a vibrant, old-fashioned spectacle, with the Old Firm nowhere to be seen.

 

Aberdeen, of course, have been this far a few times in recent years, only to botch their attempts at rolling back the years, most traumatically when Queen of the South denied them in 2008. Booth, who scored the winner against Hibernian in the 1993 Scottish Cup semi-final, and has recently swapped a media career for a coaching job with the SFA, believes that if his old club is to have any chance of making progress in the long term, it must take advantage of days like these.

 

Booth says that there has been a breakdown in the relationship between the city and its football club, one that no amount of community work will repair unless the team can at some point demonstrate that they are worth supporting.

 

“Aberdeen as a club, the only club in the city, have lost their way,” he says. “I’m hoping that the new stadium will change the dynamic because the connection between the club and its people has been lost. Whether that’s through social issues, with kids not going to football as much, or whether not a lot of effort has been made to connect with the fan base… I don’t know.

 

“A lot of things have meant that the club has struggled in recent years, but the first thing you have to do is find a way of making the team successful. It’s not very easy, if you are an unsuccessful team, to get the public to buy into you. It has to come from the team first, then it becomes reciprocal. It’s silly to ask the fans to do more if you keep coming up with poor performances.

 

“There have been times when I have been at Pittodrie in recent years, working for television, when it has been almost a full house, and there was that feel that it had 15-20 years ago. But the performance in front of an expectant crowd was really, really poor, and everything dissipated again.”

 

Booth believes the club cannot keep squandering these opportunities. Aberdeen haven’t been in a final for 12 years, and haven’t won a trophy since lifting the 1995-96 League Cup. That year, Booth played a key role in their run to the final, but missed the climactic defeat of Dundee through injury.

 

Two years before that, his winner at Tynecastle, when he stole in at the front post to convert Paul Kane’s cross, put them through to the Scottish Cup Final at Hibs’ expense. Booth recalls that goal, as well as several in the earlier rounds, including three against Hamilton Academical, and two against Clydebank in a 4-3 thriller at Kilbowie.

 

It wasn’t the greatest Aberdeen team, but it is one their supporters would kill for now. Some were faintly disparaging of Booth’s career, which they said was unfulfilled, but his nine years at Pittodrie included the famous title decider at Ibrox in 1991 and, despite frequent injuries, enough goals for club and country to attract the interest of Rangers.

 

It is a tale he has seldom told. When his contract was due to expire in 1997, the Ibrox club tabled an offer of “hundreds of thousands of pounds”. Booth said to his manager, Roy Aitken, that if the club did not accept, his only other option would be to go abroad in the summer, a move that would be worth nothing to Aberdeen.

 

As it turned out, the offer was declined, and the deal fell through. “They wanted a crazy price from Rangers because it was Rangers. I went to the manager and said ‘if I were you, I would take the money. It’s the only substantial offer we’ve got. If you don’t, I’ve got offers from abroad’. And I’ll never forget what he said. He said, ‘you’ll never go abroad’. I can still hear those words ringing in my ears.”

 

A few weeks later, Booth was abroad. In hindsight, he is glad it worked out that way, partly because of the baggage that comes with joining Rangers from Aberdeen, and partly because moving overseas was the making of him. He soon signed for Borussia Dortmund, despite Aitken’s refusal to let him play in a trial match. “I could have just played the game and not told them, but I phoned back to ask the manager if it would be OK, and I was denied the chance to prove myself in a team that were about to win the Champions League.”

 

Booth, when he eventually joined, was mainly a substitute for Dortmund, but a couple of loan deals set up the most fruitful period of his career. After spells with Utrecht and Vitesse Arnhem, he made a permanent move to Twente Enschede, with whom he won the Dutch Cup, scoring in a penalty shoot-out against PSV Eindhoven.

 

Booth says that he always wanted to play abroad, thanks mainly to the influence of his Dutch team-mates at Aberdeen. There were a few of them in those days, from Theo Snelders to Hans Gilhaus and Theo Ten Caat. Paul Mason, a Liverpudlian who proved himself at Groningen, also had something a little bit different. “He was an exciting player, a dribbler,” says Booth. “He played with a freedom that you could see he had picked up in Holland. Guys like that maybe opened my mind a bit.”

 

Now 40, Booth works for the SFA, appointed by its performance director, Mark Wotte, who was his coach at Utrecht. He has responsibility for Scotland’s under-15 team, as well as the performance schools programme, where he says the objective is to swap our obsession with the long ball for the kind of patient, passing game made in Holland.

 

Booth believes passionately that if it does for Scotland’s emerging players what it did for him, the country can look forward to a bright future. “I came into football with a certain set of tools, and given those tools, I was astounded that I played for Scotland, scored for Scotland, and went to a World Cup finals, but the reason I was able to do all that was that I took those tools and tried to make them better. I had some good years at Aberdeen and we were fairly successful for a period, but I played my best football abroad.

 

“What Mark is putting in place here is what he experienced in Holland. The way the Dutch did things was different, and in a way, we have to be different too. We have to be open-minded. The fans, the managers, the press... everybody needs to change.”

 

Aberdeen, you have been warned.

 

I never knew the Huns tried to sign him, thank fuck he never signed.

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Paul Mason, a Liverpudlian who proved himself at Groningen, also had something a little bit different. “He was an exciting player, a dribbler,” says Booth. “He played with a freedom that you could see he had picked up in Holland. Guys like that maybe opened my mind a bit.”

 

Booth was always a thinker, you could see that in his play. Never as dynamic or inventive as Jess but he made the right runs and played as a team player and Jess didn't necessarily do either in his early years despite his devastating brilliance at times.

 

Paul Mason... my favourite player after Brian Grant probably (after the obvious ones, obviously...  ;) ).  Mason could have played football on the ridge of a razor blade and not only that he'd have looked cool as fuck, he'd still have the ball.... A player I enjoyed  watching immensely and when he left for Ipswich I was gutted.  Much like Scott Booth, I don't think he was fully appreciated until he was gone.  Guys like that leaving really signalled our decline.  Painful.

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Yes I would argue it is. How many other non old firm teams have won the league cup or Scottish cup since we last won it? Most of the spl is it not?

Not sure if yer being sarcastic or not but for your information

 

League cup

1995 - Aberdeen

2004 - Livingston

2007 - Hibernian

2012 - Kilmarnock

 

Scottish Cup

1990 - Aberdeen

1991 - Motherwell

1994 & 2010 - Dundee United

1997 - Kilmarnock

1998 & 2006 - Hearts

 

 

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Is this exclusive to Aberdeen though? I very much doubt it.

 

Certainly, the relationship between football fans and their club is pretty much the same all over - but it is good to hear an ex-player like Scott Booth having a go at the club as opposed to the usual target of the long suffering fans!

 

Every club wants to compete and to win, not just one-off games against the OF, but actual silverware. Supposed 'lesser' teams have managed to do it in recent years and I think that is what makes it even more difficult for those associated with AFC to bear when we watch the likes of Killie beating one of the OF in a cup final - I mean, can you imagine the atmosphere and buzz that would be generated at AFC following that?!

 

A lot is said about the level of support that AFC gets in the city and shire, that we should have a larger support than we currently draw - however our track record in the league and cups, performances against lower league opposition and just general shiteness have us where we currently deserve to be...some may call it underperforming or that it is simply just our level.

 

We all know that as a club we have the potential to be a better team and support, however he's right in that the supporters always seem to turn out in the big games only to be let down by the team!

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Not sure if yer being sarcastic or not but for your information

 

League cup

1995 - Aberdeen

2004 - Livingston

2007 - Hibernian

2012 - Kilmarnock

 

Scottish Cup

1990 - Aberdeen

1991 - Motherwell

1994 & 2010 - Dundee United

1997 - Kilmarnock

1998 & 2006 - Hearts

 

I think I might of got confused with actually reaching a final. Pretty sure that's the case?

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Booth was always a thinker, you could see that in his play. Never as dynamic or inventive as Jess but he made the right runs and played as a team player and Jess didn't necessarily do either in his early years despite his devastating brilliance at times.

 

Paul Mason... my favourite player after Brian Grant probably (after the obvious ones, obviously...  ;) ).  Mason could have played football on the ridge of a razor blade and not only that he'd have looked cool as fuck, he'd still have the ball.... A player I enjoyed  watching immensely and when he left for Ipswich I was gutted.  Much like Scott Booth, I don't think he was fully appreciated until he was gone.  Guys like that leaving really signalled our decline.  Painful.

 

Booth and Mason were my favourites from the post-Fergie era.  I too was gutted when Mason left, he was such a brilliant footballer.  I was gutted when Booth left but very pleased when he came back for his final spell and was a much more cultured player after his European experiences.

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I think I might of got confused with actually reaching a final. Pretty sure that's the case?

 

Yeah, that list is rather embarrassingly long:

 

Scottish Cup:

 

2000: Aberdeen

2001: Hibernian

2003: Dundee

2004 & 2007: Dumfermline

2005 & 2010: Dundee United

2006: Hearts & Gretna

2008: Queen of the South

2009: Falkirk

2010: Ross County

2011: Motherwell

 

League Cup

 

2000: Aberdeen

2001, 2007 & 2012: Kilmarnock

2002: Ayr United

2004 & 2007: Hibernian

2004: Livingston

2005: Motherwell

2006: Dunfermline

2008: Dundee United

2010: St Mirren

 

 

 

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Booth was a great player,absolute quality, and he speaks a helluva lot of sense in his article.He calls it how it is and is a Dons fan through and through like the rest of us.It is hurting him aswel just like the rest of us too.

But if Killie etc can do it then so can we.

We have to believe,2 games(only 2 games!!) away from bedlam and making Aberdeen go berserk again.It's what the city needs,the spin off's would be immense and it would give everyone a massive lift.

It's going to happen again someday,I firmly believe that so why not Saturday 19th May again??

C'mon u REDS!!!

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Crikey, that is embarrassing. A club of the size of killie has been to 3 finals since we have and been successful in one of them :(

A 3-0 defeat

A 5-1 defeat

A 1-0 win

 

The only one that matters is the last.

Personally I dont see what people get so hung up with other clubs reaching cup finals. It means fuck all unless you walk away with the trophy (Especially with the League cup since it has no European place)

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A 3-0 defeat

A 5-1 defeat

A 1-0 win

 

The only one that matters is the last.

Personally I dont see what people get so hung up with other clubs reaching cup finals. It means fuck all unless you walk away with the trophy (Especially with the League cup since it has no European place)

 

Fair enough but its the old saying where you need to be in it to win it. Which quite frankly, we haven't been and its pathetic.

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