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Aberdeen F.C.–Rangers F.C. rivalry

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Aberdeen–Rangers rivalry
  • Aberdeen F.C.
  • Rangers F.C.
First meetingAll time:
Rangers 1–0 Aberdeen
(26 August 1905; 116 years ago (1905-08-26))[1]
Modern era:
Rangers 1–0 Aberdeen
(4 October 1975; 46 years ago (1975-10-04))
Latest meetingRangers 2–2 Aberdeen
Scottish Premiership
(27 October 2021)
Next meeting29 December 2021 (19:45)
Scottish Premiership
StadiumsPittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Meetings totalAll time: 349[2][3][4]
Modern era: 191[5][6]
Most winsAll time: Rangers – 174
Modern era: Rangers – 90
Top scorerAlly McCoist – 14
Largest victoryAll time: Aberdeen 6–0 Rangers,[7]
10 April 1954; 67 years ago (1954-04-10)
Modern era: Rangers 6–1 Aberdeen,
5 October 1977; 44 years ago (1977-10-05)
Rangers 5–0 Aberdeen,
22 January 2000; 21 years ago (2000-01-22)
Rangers 5–0 Aberdeen,
31 October 2004; 17 years ago (2004-10-31)
Rangers 5–0 Aberdeen,
28 September 2019; 2 years ago (2019-09-28)

The Aberdeen–Rangers rivalry refers to football matches and related activity involving the Scottish football clubs Aberdeen F.C. and Rangers F.C.

Unlike Rangers' Old Firm rivalry with Glasgow neighbours Celtic, the feud with Aberdeen is a comparatively modern phenomenon which developed from the 1970s on a competitive sporting basis but escalated into hostility on the pitch and in the stands, with the animosity continuing into the 21st century.

The rivalry was at its peak during the 1980s and early 1990s when Aberdeen became a force in Scottish football. The two clubs battled for the national championship and met in several cup finals, with various incidents occurring on and off the field. The intensity diminished from the late 1990s as the fortunes of the clubs diverged, with Rangers dominant and Aberdeen unable to match them, as had been the case for much of their history, although the behaviour of players and supporters on occasion showed there remained some animosity between the clubs.

In mid-2012, Rangers ceased to be a member of the top division of Scottish football due to serious financial issues, and in their absence Aberdeen emerged as the main challengers to Celtic. When Rangers returned in 2016, they and Aberdeen were again on a more equal footing with the matches between them being of great significance to their league fate; the clubs' fortunes gradually diverged until the 2020–21 Scottish Premiership season, when Rangers won the title for the first time in a decade[8] with an unbeaten campaign including four wins over Aberdeen, who accumulated barely half as many points and finished fourth.


Map of Scotland showing the locations of Aberdeen and Glasgow
Glasgow (Rangers)
Glasgow (Rangers)
Aberdeen and Glasgow are on opposite sides of Scotland, 150 miles apart.

Since the introduction of nationwide football in Scotland, the relationship between Rangers and Aberdeen had been unremarkable. In addition to being based in cities of different size and character 150 miles apart[9] on opposite sides of Scotland, their stature did not bear comparison; Rangers, backed by a huge fan base, were dominant in the domestic game along with their rivals Celtic almost from the inception of the Scottish Football League in the 1890s, with the rivalry between the Glasgow clubs, which became known as the Old Firm fuelled by elements involving religion, national identity and ethnic background,[10][11][12][13] while Aberdeen (who joined the league in 1905) were only one of several smaller clubs across the country who occasionally enjoyed good league runs or reached cup finals.[14] The Reds had secured just one national title by 1975 compared to 36 for Rangers, with two Scottish Cup wins to Rangers' 20 and one League Cup to Rangers' seven.[15][16]

The clubs had met twice in finals: the 1947 League Cup Final which was won 4–0 by Rangers,[17][18] and the 1953 Scottish Cup Final which Rangers won after a replay in front of a crowd of 113,700.[19][20] They had also contested the final of the wartime 1946 Southern League Cup, won by Aberdeen,[21] which although taking place after the conflict ended, remained unofficial. The match was watched by a crowd of 135,000 at Hampden Park.[22][23]

The established situation changed somewhat in the late 1970s when Aberdeen began to offer a major challenge to the Old Firm[24] under managers Ally MacLeod, Billy McNeill and then most significantly Alex Ferguson.[25][26] At the same time, the introduction of the new Premier Division format – a smaller number of clubs playing one another four times[24] – provided double the number of direct confrontations as before.[27]

1970s battles[]

An early indication of Aberdeen's improvement was their victory in the 1976–77 Scottish League Cup[28] under Ally MacLeod (who was soon to become Scotland coach)[29] after earlier beating Rangers 5–1 in the semi-final.[30][31][32][33] They had also won a Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox for the first time ever in March 1975,[34] but went no further in that competition, whereas Rangers recovered to finish as league champions in the league title in the last season of the old format, signalling an end to Celtic's decade of dominance, and in 1975–76 lifted all the domestic trophies in a treble, the third in their history.[24]

In 1977–78, new manager Billy McNeill led Aberdeen to runners–up spot (two points behind Rangers) in the Premier Division,[35] and to the final of the Scottish Cup where they lost 2–1 to Rangers,[36] contributing to another treble for the Light Blues.[24] This strong performance under McNeill contributed to the former Celtic captain being recruited by his old club during summer 1978, leaving Aberdeen searching for a new manager once again.[37] McNeill's replacement, Alex Ferguson, was a boyhood Rangers fan from Govan[26] who had played for the club for two years in the 1960s before being shown the door abruptly after a poor performance in the 1969 Scottish Cup Final.[38][39][40][41] Like McNeill, Ferguson came with a growing reputation; however, he had also been fired from his previous role at St Mirren for misconduct.[42]

At the same point, Rangers manager Jock Wallace, who had been at the helm for six years and led his side to both of those treble wins, resigned unexpectedly after serious disputes with the previous boss Willie Waddell who had become the club's general manager.[43][44] Rangers turned to their retiring team captain, John Greig, to take the reins in his first managerial role.[43][44]

Aberdeen's rise[]

The clubs met in the 1978–79 Scottish League Cup Final which Rangers won, scoring the winner in the last minute after Aberdeen had earlier been controversially reduced to 10 men;[45][46] Doug Rougvie was sent off after a clash with Derek Johnstone – Alex Ferguson backed Rougvie's version of events that Johnstone had used simulation to have him dismissed.[47] Ferguson felt a sense of injustice at the outcome in what was his first major final as a manager, and from that point on he instilled a siege mentality in his players,[48][26] many of whom were from the Glasgow area including defensive stalwarts Willie Miller[49] and Alex McLeish.[50][51] He stated publicly that Aberdeen were unfairly treated compared to the big Glasgow clubs[26][45] while also deflecting attention and pressure onto opponents (a trick learned during his time as a Rangers player from Celtic manager Jock Stein)[41] and onto himself prior to big matches.[52] Ferguson was particularly determined to conquer his old club.[39][26]

Alex Ferguson played for Rangers and managed Aberdeen.

Aberdeen eliminated Rangers from the next edition of the League Cup (although they lost the final to another emerging power, Dundee United)[53][54] and went on to become champions of the 1979–80 Scottish Premier Division[55][56] after Ferguson took the decision to drop the club's top scorer Joe Harper from the team.[57] Rangers gained some revenge in the semi-final of the same season's Scottish Cup, but when the teams next faced off in the League Cup it was Aberdeen who prevailed; Rangers would win that trophy the following year,[58] in addition to the 1980–81 Scottish Cup,[59] overcoming Dundee United in both finals.

Ferguson's Aberdeen were then beginning an unprecedented spell of success,[60] with two further league titles and three consecutive Scottish Cups among the trophies won,[15] including victories over Rangers in the finals of 1982 (4–1)[61][62] – a week after a 4–0 victory in their final league meeting, a futile effort to snatch the title from Celtic on goal difference[63][64] – and 1983 (1–0).[65] In a post-match television interview following the latter fixture, played just ten days after Aberdeen had defeated Real Madrid to win the European Cup Winners' Cup,[51] Ferguson publicly criticised his players for their level of performance and continued in the same manner back in the dressing room, such were the high standards he demanded against Rangers – he later apologised.[41][66][67]

By contrast, Rangers were struggling financially[68] and endured one of the worst runs in their proud history under managers John Greig and the returning Jock Wallace (having tried unsuccessfully to tempt Ferguson back to Ibrox).[57][40][26] They failed to win the league from 1978 until 1987,[69] finished below Aberdeen for seven successive seasons,[40] and collected only four domestic cups from sixteen available in the period. One achievement of Wallace's second spell was utilising the talents of Ally McCoist more effectively than Greig had done,[43] and the striker would go on to become the club's all-time top goalscorer (including 14 in matches against Aberdeen).[70]

At that time the previously quiet city of Aberdeen was also experiencing an economic boom relating to North Sea oil whereas most of the traditional industries in the city of Glasgow were in terminal decline, so they were no longer the poor relation in the distant north. Additionally, the rise of hooliganism in that era involved clashes between Rangers' Inter City Firm and Aberdeen's Soccer Casuals[71] with both mobs ready to travel across the country in their hundreds, intent on causing trouble in the other's territory. On-field events increased the tensions, such as Willie Johnston's stamp on John McMaster's neck in 1980 requiring mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,[72][73][47][74][75] a particularly violent match at Ibrox in 1985[61][76] which also involved fans invading the pitch, and various other clashes featuring multiple red cards.[47][25][73] All these factors contributed to a fiery atmosphere among players and fans whenever the clubs met.

Rangers revival[]

Aberdeen's Pittodrie Stadium viewed from the away supporters' section (2006)

A turning point was in 1986–87, when Alex Ferguson left Aberdeen to join Manchester United and Graeme Souness became Rangers manager[69] with new financial backing from David Holmes and then David Murray.[69][77] The Glasgow club began entice several top English players to move north due to Souness's connections and with the incentives of big wages and the prospect of European football (English clubs were banned following the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985).[69][77] Rangers finally regained the league championship – clinching the 1986–87 title with a draw at Pittodrie, followed by a pitch invasion by their celebrating fans[75][78][79] – while Aberdeen failed to win a cup or finish in the top two places for the first time in eight years. This was the start of a sustained period of great success for Rangers,[80][77] though Aberdeen would remain a significant opponent during the next decade.

Relations between the clubs reached a new low in 1988 following Neil Simpson's brutal challenge on Ian Durrant (at the time regarded as one of Scotland's biggest emerging talents) which almost ended his career, caused him to miss almost three years of football and forced him to adjust his playing style to compensate for his damaged knee ligaments.[78][81][82][83][84] That incident took place during a league match a few weeks before the second of three hard-fought Scottish League Cup finals between them.[85][86][87][88] Some Aberdeen fans took to singing distasteful songs about Durrant's injury (as well as the 1971 Ibrox disaster) which in turn led to insulting comments from Rangers players in books and in the club's match programme, promoting an official apology.[89][90][81] Aberdeen supporters also grew irritated with the increasing gulf in wealth between the clubs, with Rangers able to acquire their players (Davie Dodds and[91] Robertson[92] and later Wright[93] and Snelders)[82] seemingly at will. Away from football, the city of Glasgow also experienced an economic recovery while Aberdeen suffered the effects of an oil recession.[94]

Blue dominance[]

With Celtic in a period of turmoil and unable to compete with their old enemy, Aberdeen tried in vain to match Rangers as they became ever more dominant.[77][95][88] In five out of six title-winning seasons for Graeme Souness and Walter Smith's sides between 1989 and 1994,[16] Aberdeen finished runners-up, with the closest finish occurring in 1990–91 when Mark Hateley scored twice in a winner-takes-all clash at Ibrox Stadium on the final day to win the title by two points – as well as a missed opportunity for Aberdeen at the time, in retrospect it was something of a pivotal event for Scottish football as the Gers became increasingly dominant in the following years, while no teams outwith Rangers and Celtic have come as close to winning the title since.[96][97] Aberdeen, managed at that time by Alex Smith, were victorious on their next visit to Glasgow in September 1991 but would not win at Ibrox again for 26 years.[98][99][100]

Billy Dodds played for both clubs in the 1990s

Rangers eliminated Aberdeen from the early stage of knockout competitions twice in quick succession (1990–91 Scottish League Cup, 1991–92 Scottish Cup) on their way to winning them, and both the 1992 Scottish League Cup Final and the 1993 Scottish Cup Final finished Rangers 2, Aberdeen 1.[101][102][103][104] Aberdeen supporters' frustration at the situation occasionally manifested as acts of violence, with Ally McCoist having a golf ball impregnated with nails thrown at him during a fixture at Pittodrie in 1993, and Mark Hateley being assaulted as he left Aberdeen's stadium following a match the following year.[81][47] For their part, Rangers fans attacked a car containing Willie Miller's family as it was driven up to the stadium for the 1993 Scottish Cup Final, having observed the Aberdeen badge on its windscreen.[104]

The only interruption to the Glasgow club's dominance,[95] and the final season of any real competitive significance to the rivalry in that era, was in 1995–96 when Aberdeen won the League Cup after eliminating Rangers in the semi-final (it would be their last trophy for 19 years);[105] however that same season Rangers clinched the League for the eighth year running with a home win over third-placed Aberdeen, with Paul Gascoigne scoring a hat-trick.[106]

In the late 1990s Celtic re-emerged as Rangers' principal sporting rival while Aberdeen collapsed as a force,[107][108][109] finishing near the foot of the table far more often than towards the top. Outwith the matches themselves, an Aberdeen supporter disgraced himself in April 1999 when he ran from the away fans' section at Ibrox to assault comedian Andy Cameron who was performing a routine on the pitch prior to kick-off – he was banned by the club and fined at court.[110]

The most recent showpiece event between the clubs was the 2000 Scottish Cup Final which Rangers won 4–0, but that effectively ceased to be a contest in the opening minutes when Aberdeen (bottom of the league so expected to lose to champions Rangers in any event) had to deploy striker Robbie Winters in goal when Jim Leighton was injured with no substitute keeper on the bench.[111] One of the goalscorers was former Dons striker Billy Dodds who had been a makeweight in the transfer of Winters but rediscovered his form at Dundee United and was quickly signed by Rangers.[112]

21st century[]

Crowd disorder and player indiscipline kept the hostile spirit of the rivalry alive in the early 21st century, with various instances of minute silences being disrupted,[73] red cards being shown to players, missiles being thrown inside the stadia (including seats)[73][113][81] and the continued presence of the respective 'casual' hooligan firms.[114][115][116][117][118]

Two specific incidents of note were Fernando Ricksen's ban on video evidence after a kung-fu kick on Darren Young was missed by the referee during a 2000–01 fixture,[119][120][121][83] and riot police being deployed at Pittodrie in January 2002 with home fans having run onto the pitch to confront away supporters who had thrown coins at Winters.[83][78][75][81] Former Dons hero Alex McLeish had just become Rangers boss,[122] and was initially applauded onto the field by Aberdeen followers before events took an unpleasant turn.[73] In the aftermath of that disturbance, which took place during a live television broadcast across the UK, the authorities decided that matches between the clubs would no longer take place on weekend evenings to minimise the chance of spectators engaging in disorder having spent the whole day drinking alcohol;[73] a similar decision had been made on Old Firm games a few years prior.[123][124]

Later events included Aberdeen securing third place for the first time in a decade on the last day at Pittodrie in 2006–07,[79] Nacho Novo being sent off as Rangers lost the league crown on the last day at the same venue the following season,[125] Kyle Lafferty feigning injury to get Charlie Mulgrew dismissed in 2009,[78][75][126] and an outbreak of organised hooligan violence by an Aberdeen faction at Ibrox subway station in 2012.[127]

Alex McLeish played for Aberdeen and managed Rangers

In 2012 Rangers were liquidated and the new company that bought the business and assets from the administrators did not achieve the transfer of Rangers' league place – Aberdeen plus all other SPL clubs except Kilmarnock voted against it.[128] Rangers were accepted into the fourth tier of the Scottish football league system which meant that no matches were played between the rivals for four years. In the interim Aberdeen won the 2013–14 Scottish League Cup.[129]

Rangers return[]

Rangers returned to the Scottish Premiership for the 2016–17 season. In the build-up to their first meeting of the season at Pittodrie, Rangers' manager Mark Warburton described Aberdeen fans' hatred towards his club as "Quite sad".[130][131] On the day of the match, the Rangers team bus was found to have been vandalised, with offensive references to the Ibrox Disaster and Ian Durrant.[132][133] Banners were also observed in the city claiming that Rangers followers "Let your club die", referencing their commercial liquidation four years earlier.[132] In the aftermath of their second meeting in Aberdeen during April 2017, several arrests were made.[134]

Before their final match of that season, Warburton's successor Pedro Caixinha chose to comment on his opponents, suggesting that they may need to rebuild after finishing as runners-up for three successive seasons;[135] the Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes, a former Gers player, responded that Rangers should be embarrassed to rank below his team due to the disparity in their financial resources.[136] Aberdeen won that match to finally break a 43-game winless streak at Ibrox, and finished ahead of Rangers for the first time since 1986 (excepting Rangers' years in lower divisions).[98][99] They also reached the season's two cup finals, losing both to Celtic (who had beaten Rangers in the semi-final of each).[137][138][103]

The two clubs were closely matched during the 2017–18 season, battling for second place for much of the campaign after failing to keep pace with eventual champions Celtic. Neither could build a lasting lead over the other, with Rangers' general inconsistency negating their nine-point superiority from the meetings with Aberdeen.[139][140][141][142] The matter was not settled until the final matchday of the season, when Rangers quickly fell 3–0 behind away to Hibernian (for whom a six-goal victory would snatch third position from the opponents) then scored five without reply, only to be pegged back in the final minutes for a dramatic 5–5 finish.[143][144] However that outcome mattered little after Aberdeen won 1–0 at Celtic Park (the first Scottish team to win there since 2015,[145] having lost all of their previous 25 league visits),[146][147] meaning Rangers could not catch the Dons regardless of their own result. By then, the Gers had already arranged for Steven Gerrard to become their next manager.[148]

Rangers and Aberdeen were drawn to meet in the semi-final of the 2018–19 Scottish League Cup on 28 October 2018 at Hampden Park,[33] their first meeting outwith the league in 14 years and the first at a neutral venue since 2000. The build-up was dominated by administrative disputes surrounding the scheduling and venue (that fixture and the other semi-final between Celtic and Heart of Midlothian were initially both planned for the same stadium on the same day)[149][150] and then ratios of tickets available to each club.[151][152] Aberdeen won the match 1–0 to progress to the final,[153] with the only goal scored by midfielder Lewis Ferguson whose father Derek and uncle Barry were both former Rangers players in the same position.[154] Aberdeen won by the same scoreline in the next league meeting at Ibrox to end a brief spell for Rangers at the top of the table, with both teams having a player sent off.[155] Rangers won 4–2 at Pittodrie in February 2019, Gerrard's first win over McInnes at the fourth attempt; Alfredo Morelos scored twice but was then shown a red card (as he had been in the two previous league clashes that season) along with Scott McKenna, scorer of Aberdeen's winner in Glasgow.[156] In early March, with the clubs having not played in a cup for so long, they were drawn together in a second such meeting in the same season, in the quarter-final of the 2018–19 Scottish Cup at Pittodrie. That match finished 1–1,[157] requiring a replay and the winners knowing they would face Celtic;[158] Aberdeen progressed with a 2–0 victory at Ibrox,[159][160] their first Scottish Cup win at that venue since 1975.[34] With another league meeting to come, this meant there would be seven fixtures between them in 2018–19 – only the third season ever to feature so many matches, and the first instance since 1979–80.[5] That seventh meeting at the end of April 2019 was won 2–0 by Rangers to confirm runners-up spot in the Premiership, and with Celtic having won the Scottish Cup semi-final convincingly and secured the title by a large margin, both Rangers and Aberdeen were left without a major trophy for another year, but with the Glasgow club finishing higher for the first time since 2012.[161]

The indications that Rangers had once again become significantly more powerful than Aberdeen were reinforced when they won 5–0 in their first meeting of the 2019–20 season at Ibrox, the widest winning margin in 15 years.[162] Rangers also took a two-goal lead in the next match at Pittodrie, but this time Aberdeen fought back for a 2–2 draw,[163] a result that, along with the following fixture at Ibrox three months later which ended goalless,[164] negatively impacted the Glasgow club's title challenge in which few points were being dropped by either Rangers or eventual champions Celtic.

The following season Rangers made no such mistakes, beating Aberdeen three times[165] as part of a 32-match unbeaten run which saw them confirmed as title winners in early March 2021, a first major trophy in a decade;[8] at that point Aberdeen had 39 fewer points and were in a battle to finish third. While Gerrard had proven his coaching abilities, McInnes was dismissed a day later, a decision not directly relating to Rangers' win but a gradual decline from the standards his team had set a few years earlier.[166] Rangers went on to complete an unbeaten league season (dropping only 12 points across the 38 fixtures), confirmed with a 4–0 win over Aberdeen on the final day; the Dons finished fourth.[167]

Supporter attitudes[]

Rangers' Ibrox Stadium looking towards away supporters' section below screen (2006)

The majority of Aberdeen supporters consider Rangers to be their main rival (some sing proudly "We hate Rangers more than you [do]" towards Celtic counterparts),[83] with no other professional clubs nearby and the closest opponents Dundee United and Inverness CT usually focusing on their own local grudges (Dundee derby and Highland derby respectively). Aberdeen's 'New Firm' battles with Dundee United became a redundant concept when both clubs faded almost entirely from prominence in Scottish football after the early 1990s.[168][169]

Rangers managers Walter Smith[170] and Steven Gerrard,[171] and captain Richard Gough,[47][81] have been among those who have expressed a belief that the Aberdeen players raise their performance in the Rangers fixtures while making insufficient effort in other matches.[47][74][172] Aberdeen were beaten heavily by Celtic on several occasions between 1999 and 2010 (including a 9–0, two 7–0s and two 6–0s)[173] but avoided any truly embarrassing results against Rangers with most scorelines fairly close, even in seasons where Rangers had a much stronger team – albeit 5–0 wins were recorded in 2000, 2004 and 2019.[174] Conversely, an observation has been made that in their own weaker spells, Rangers players seem to find extra reserves to ensure they get a good result against Aberdeen.[74]

Rangers fans' main focus of enmity has always been Celtic, and they often seek to downplay the significance of the Aberdeen games by dismissing them as an irrelevant opponent, but many supporters maintain a distrust of the Dons due to the incidents of the past and are only too willing to reciprocate any animosity shown towards them.[175]

Although Aberdeen's years of weak performances led to less significance being placed on their meetings in terms of league position (with a match report on the Rangers website in 2002 describing the beaten Aberdeen team as "A pathetic shadow of the side they used to be"),[176] the fixture remains one of the highlights of the Scottish football calendar.[177][178] The struggle for Rangers to regain their dominant position in the Scottish game following their financial collapse, with Aberdeen having become the most credible challenger to Celtic in their absence (finishing second for the two prior seasons),[78] added a renewed competitive edge to the encounters upon the return of the Glasgow club to the top division.[179][180][181]

Following the July 2017 UK Supreme Court ruling that Rangers' use of £47 million-worth of EBT payments to employees over nine years[182] were undeclared taxable earnings,[183][184] Aberdeen supporters made clear their desire for the Glasgow club to be punished with the removal of honours won during the period[185] although it would have no direct benefit to their club. After the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League declared that no new review of the circumstances would be forthcoming,[186][187] the chairman Stewart Milne expressed his desire for the matter to be put to rest.[188]

Personnel with both clubs[]

A number of players have played for both clubs during the acknowledged years of their rivalry, although direct transfers are fairly rare.[92] An unusual deal between the clubs was the exchange/loan move of Ricky Foster and Andrius Velicka in 2010[189] – striker Velicka hardly featured for the Dons and was released, but full-back Foster (who had been almost ever-present in his previous four seasons at Aberdeen) played regularly for the Gers, including in the Champions League, and won a SPL winner's medal. On returning to Pittodrie he was made captain, which was not well received by some fans.[190]

Sone Aluko played for both clubs in the 2010s

In 2011, based on his own experiences two decades earlier, David Robertson advised Sone Aluko to expect a hostile reaction from fans when he signed for Rangers a short time after leaving Aberdeen.[92] As it transpired, Aluko played in just one fixture between the clubs (at Ibrox) which passed without major incident for the player[191] before he returned to England after the financial collapse of Rangers.[192]

In summer 2017, Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack allowed his contract to expire and left on a free transfer, signing for Rangers a few days later; he was immediately targeted for abuse online by supporters of his former club.[193] In November of the same year, before he had played for Rangers at Pittodrie, Jack was selected to make his full Scotland debut in a friendly which happened to take place in Aberdeen. In the opening stages of the match he was jeered and booed whenever he touched the ball by some of the crowd; other fans responded to this by cheering and applauding him.[194] When Rangers did visit Aberdeen, Jack was sent off for a bad tackle, although his team won the match.[140]

Derek McInnes[]

Former Rangers midfielder Derek McInnes became manager of Aberdeen in 2013. His connection with his previous club led him being linked to a move to Ibrox whenever a change in leadership would occur,[195][196][197] but the Pittodrie chairman Stewart Milne expressed his reluctance to allow any approach.[198] McInnes, who stated on several occasions that he was happy at Aberdeen,[199][200] was also offered advice from Alex Ferguson on dealing with cup finals.[201]

In early December 2017, the two clubs played in the league twice in four days, with Rangers (led by caretaker manager Graeme Murty) winning home and away to close a six-point deficit and overtake Aberdeen in the standings.[139][140][202] The matches took place amidst constant media attention as to whether McInnes was about to become the Rangers boss. McInnes did not make excuses that the ongoing speculation impacted Aberdeen's preparation for those important fixtures, or that it was behind their general form (which had suffered a downturn after Rangers dismissed Pedro Caixinha), but he did express his irritation that the matter had dragged on for so long.[203] On 5 December, Rangers did make a formal approach to speak with McInnes, but this was refused by Milne, and after internal discussions it was announced that he would remain with Aberdeen.[204][202] McInnes was dismissed by Aberdeen on 8 March 2021,[166] a day after Rangers were confirmed as Scottish champions for the first time in a decade under manager Steven Gerrard, appointed six months after the Glasgow club approached McInnes.[8]

List of personnel[]

List applies since the advent of the Scottish Premier Division in 1975. Prior to this, Dave Smith, Alex Willoughby and Jim Forrest were among the prominent players with both clubs.

As of February 2021
Name Years at Aberdeen[a] Years at Rangers[a] Direct Ref.
Craig Brown 2010–2013[b] 1958–1960[c] No [205]
Alex Ferguson 1978–1986[b] 1967–1969 No [39]
Alex Miller 1997–1998[b] 1967–1982 No [206]
Dougie Bell 1978–1985 1985–1987 Yes [25][207]
Alex McLeish 1978–1994 2001–2006[b] No [50][122]
Neale Cooper 1979–1986, 1990[d] 1988–1990 Yes [61]
Archie Knox 1980–1983, 2010–2013[e] 1991–1998[f] No [205]
Jim Bett 1985–1994 1980–1983 No [68][208][209]
Nicky Walker 1996–1997 1983–1990 No [210]
Jimmy Nicholl 2004–2009[f] 1983–1984, 1986–1989,[d]
No [211][212]
Davie Dodds 1986–1989 1989–1991, 1991–1998[g] Yes [91]
David Robertson 1985–1991 1991–1997 Yes
Eoin Jess 1987–1995, 1997–2001[d] 1984–1987[h] Yes [213][214]
Stephen Wright 1986–1995 1995–1998 Yes [93][215]
Theo Snelders 1988–1996 1996–1999 Yes [82]
Barry Nicholson 2005–2008 1992–2000 No [216]
Billy Dodds 1994–1998 1999–2003 No [112][217]
Derek McInnes 2013–2021[b] 1995–2000 No [195][200][166]
Barry Robson 2013–2016 1995–1997[c] No [218][219]
Stephen Hughes 2012–2013 1999–2005 No [220]
Maurice Ross 2009–2010 2000–2005 No [221]
Steven MacLean 2010 2002–2004 No [222][223]
Steven Smith 2011 2002–2010, 2013–2015[d] No [224]
Ricky Foster 2003–2012 2010–2011, 2013–2015[i] Yes [190][189][92]
Gavin Rae 2012–2013 2004–2007 No [225]
Gregg Wylde 2013–2014 2005–2012 No [226]
Nicky Clark 2006–2009[j] 2013–2016 No [227]
Kenny McLean 2015–2018 2006–2008[c] No [228][229]
Sone Aluko 2007–2011 2011–2012 Yes [92]
Andrius Velicka 2010–2011[k] 2008–2011 Yes [189]
Ryan Jack 2008–2017 2017– Yes [193]
Dominic Ball 2017–2019[l] 2015–2016[m] No [230]
Lewis Ferguson 2018– 2009–2013[c] No [231]
Greg Stewart 2017–2018, 2019[n] 2009–2013,[c] 2019–2021 No [232][233][234]
Ross McCrorie 2020–[o] 2012–2020 Yes [235]
Scott Wright 2008–2021 2021– Yes [236]
David Bates 2021– 2016–[p] No [237]


  1. ^ a b Single spell as a player unless otherwise stated.
  2. ^ a b c d e As manager
  3. ^ a b c d e Youth teams only
  4. ^ a b c d Two spells as a player
  5. ^ Two spells as assistant manager
  6. ^ a b c As assistant manager
  7. ^ Spell as player then as coach
  8. ^ Youth teams only
  9. ^ Two spells as a player, the first as a loan from Aberdeen
  10. ^ Youth teams only
  11. ^ Loan from Rangers
  12. ^ Two loan spells
  13. ^ On loan
  14. ^ Two loan spells
  15. ^ Initially on loan with obligation to buy
  16. ^ Initially on loan

Head to head record[]

Presentation of the two sides prior to the 1978 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park

Clear distinctions can be made between the decades of the rivalry: the 1970s/1980s when Aberdeen were the stronger team; the 1980s/1990s when Rangers became dominant but Aberdeen offered a challenge; the 1990s/2000s when Rangers were almost unbeatable; the 2000s/2010s (up to 2012) when that trend continued but fewer games were played, and the period from 2016 when matches resumed after a four-year hiatus.

There are three reasons for the reduction in matches: league reconstruction;[a] Rangers' years in the lower leagues after being liquidated; and the two clubs never being paired in a cup tie between 2004 and 2018.[b] There were eight occasions when a potential cup final between the sides narrowly failed to materialise despite both reaching the semi-finals, with the draw always keeping them apart and either one[c] or both[d] falling at that stage. That sequence ended in 2018–19, when they were drawn together in both cups.

Since inception of Scottish Premier Division in 1975[e]

As of 27 October 2021[5][6]
Decade Played Aberdeen
Draw Rangers
1975–76 to 1985–86 57 29 13 15 94 57
1986–87 to 1995–96 49 14 11 24 46 58
1996–97 to 2005–06 41 4 11 26 35 91
2006–07 to 2015–16 21 3 5 13 15 32
2016–17 to 23 5 6 12 20 43
Totals 191 55 46 90 210 281


  1. ^ The Scottish Premier League introduced a late-season split in the fixtures based on league position, and Aberdeen failed to reach the top half several times.
  2. ^ In the same period, Aberdeen drew Celtic six times in cup ties[238] and Rangers drew Dundee United six times.[239]
  3. ^ 2008 League Cup,[240] 2008 Scottish Cup,[241] 2011,[242] 2016,[243] 2017[244]
  4. ^ 2014,[245][246] 2015,[247][248] 2018[249][250]
  5. ^ Tallies up to 1975: 158 matches played, 30 Aberdeen wins, 44 draws, 84 Rangers wins, 179 Aberdeen goals, 305 Rangers goals. Applies to the Scottish League, Scottish Cup and League Cup only.[251][252]

Trophy table[]

The comparative totals of trophies won by the two clubs (and runners-up) in each decade of the rivalry are shown below.[253][254][a][b]

Since inception of Scottish Premier Division in 1975[c]

As of 16 May 2021
Decade Aberdeen
League titles
League titles
League 2nd
League 2nd
Cup winners
Cup winners
Cup finalists
Cup finalists
1975–76 to 1985–86 3 2 3 2 6 10 3 5
1986–87 to 1995–96 0 9 5 0 3 9 4 3
1996–97 to 2005–06 0 5 0 4 0 9 0 1
2006–07 to 2015–16 0 3 2 3 1 5 0 2
2016–17 to 0 1 2 2 0 0 3 1
Totals 3 20 12 11 10 33 10 12


  1. ^ 'Cup' refers to both the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup, but does not include the European Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup won by Aberdeen in 1983, or the minor Drybrough Cup.
  2. ^ See also: List of Aberdeen F.C. records and statistics#Honours; List of Rangers F.C. records and statistics#Honours
  3. ^ Tallies up to 1975: Aberdeen 1 League title, 5 times runners-up, 3 major cup wins, 6 finalists; Rangers 35 League titles, 20 times runners-up, 27 major cup wins, 14 finalists. Does not include minor trophies, wartime competitions or European football (Rangers won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1972 and were finalists in 1961 and 1967).

Notable fixtures[]

All cup ties between the clubs since 1975 are listed below, in addition to some league fixtures which had some significant bearing on the clubs' end of season placing, or on the rivalry itself (Durrant/Simpson match in 1988, riot police match in 2002, Lafferty/Mulgrew match in 2009).

General sources:[5][6]

Competition Date Venue Attendance Home team Score Away team Home goalscorers Away goalscorers Notes
1975–76 Scottish Cup
Fourth round
14 February 1976 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 52,000 Rangers 4 – 1 Aberdeen Johnstone Goal 43'
MacDonald Goal 46'
Henderson Goal 75'
Parlane Goal 86'
Smith Goal [a]
1976–77 Scottish League Cup
27 October 1976 Hampden Park, Glasgow 20,990 Aberdeen 5 – 1 Rangers Scott Goal Goal Goal
Harper Goal
Jarvie Goal
MacDonald Goal 15' [b]
1977–78 Scottish League Cup
Third round, 1st leg
5 October 1977 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 25,000 Rangers 6 – 1 Aberdeen Smith Goal 3' Goal 43' Goal 73'
Johnstone Goal 30'
Miller Goal 44' (pen.)
MacDonald Goal 85'
Davidson Goal [c]
1977–78 Scottish Cup
6 May 1978 Hampden Park, Glasgow 61,563 Aberdeen 1 – 2 Rangers Ritchie Goal 85' MacDonald Goal 35'
Johnstone Goal 57'
1978–79 Scottish League Cup
31 March 1979 Hampden Park, Glasgow 54,000 Aberdeen 1 – 2 Rangers Davidson Goal
Rougvie Red card
MacDonald Goal 77'
Jackson Goal 90'
1979–80 Scottish League Cup
Third round, 2nd leg
12 April 1980 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 35,000 Rangers 0 – 2 Aberdeen Harper Goal
Strachan Goal
1979–80 Scottish Cup
12 April 1980 Celtic Park, Glasgow 50,000 Aberdeen 0 – 1 Rangers Johnstone Goal 75' [g]
1980–81 Scottish League Cup
Third round, 2nd leg
24 September 1980 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 23,926 Aberdeen 3 – 1 Rangers McMaster Goal
Strachan Goal (pen.) Goal (pen.)
McAdam Goal 48' [h]
1981–82 Scottish Cup
22 May 1982 Hampden Park, Glasgow 53,788 Aberdeen 4 – 1
Rangers McLeish Goal 32'
McGhee Goal 93'
Strachan Goal 103'
Cooper Goal 110'
MacDonald Goal 15' [i]
1982–83 Scottish Cup
21 May 1983 Hampden Park, Glasgow 62,979 Aberdeen 1 – 0
Rangers Black Goal 116' [j]
1985–86 Scottish Premier Division 28 September 1985 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 37,599 Rangers 0 – 3 Aberdeen Paterson Red card
Burns Red card
McLeish Goal 30'
Stark Goal 38'
Hewitt Goal 84'
1986–87 Scottish Premier Division 2 May 1987 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 22,568 Aberdeen 1 – 1 Rangers Irvine Goal 44' Butcher Goal 40'
Souness Yellow card Yellow-red card
1987–88 Scottish League Cup
25 October 1987 Hampden Park, Glasgow 71,961 Aberdeen 3 – 3
Rangers Bett Goal 9' (pen.)
Hewitt Goal 72'
Falconer Goal 81'
Cooper Goal 22'
Durrant Goal 40'
Fleck Goal 86'
1988–89 Scottish Premier Division 8 October 1988 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 22,370 Aberdeen 2 – 1 Rangers Bett Goal 9' (pen.)
Nicholas Goal 85'
N. Cooper Goal 38' [o]
1988–89 Scottish League Cup
23 October 1988 Hampden Park, Glasgow 72,122 Aberdeen 2 – 3 Rangers Dodds Goal 20' Goal 63' McCoist Goal 14' (pen.) Goal 89'
I. Ferguson Goal 56'
1989–90 Scottish League Cup
22 October 1989 Hampden Park, Glasgow 61,190 Aberdeen 2 – 1
Rangers Mason Goal 22' Goal 102' Walters Goal 34' (pen.) [q]
1990–91 Scottish League Cup
26 September 1990 Hampden Park, Glasgow 40,855 Rangers 1 – 0 Aberdeen Steven Goal 30' [r]
1990–91 Scottish Premier Division[97] 11 May 1991 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 37,652 Rangers 2 – 0 Aberdeen Hateley Goal 40' Goal 55' [s]
1991–92 Scottish Cup
Third Round
22 January 1992 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 23,000 Aberdeen 0 – 2 Rangers McCoist Goal 20' [t]
1992–93 Scottish League Cup
25 October 1992 Hampden Park, Glasgow 45,298 Aberdeen 1 – 2
Rangers Shearer Goal 62' McCall Goal 14'
Smith Goal 114' (og)
1992–93 Scottish Cup
29 May 1993 Celtic Park, Glasgow 50,715 Aberdeen 1 – 2 Rangers Richardson Goal 77' Murray Goal 22'
Mark Hateley Goal 43'
1993–94 Scottish League Cup
1 September 1993 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 45,604 Rangers 2 – 1
Aberdeen Hateley Goal 1' (pen.)
I. Ferguson Goal 92'
Miller Goal 49' (pen.) [w]
1995–96 Scottish League Cup
22 October 1995 Hampden Park, Glasgow 26,131 Aberdeen 2 – 1 Rangers Dodds Goal 51' Goal 69' Salenko Goal 85' [x]
1995–96 Scottish Premier Division[106] 28 April 1996 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 47,247 Rangers 3 – 1 Aberdeen Gascoigne Goal 21' Goal 81' Goal 86' (pen.) Irvine Goal 19' [y]
1999–2000 Scottish League Cup
1 December 1999 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 12,108 Aberdeen 1 – 0
Rangers Dow Goal 118' [z]
1999–2000 Scottish Cup
27 May 2000 Hampden Park, Glasgow 50,865 Aberdeen 0 – 4 Rangers van Bronckhorst Goal 35'
Vidmar Goal 47'
Dodds Goal 49'
Albertz Goal 50'
2000–01 Scottish League Cup
Third Round
6 September 2000 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 37,029 Rangers 4 – 2 Aberdeen van Bronckhorst Goal 25'
Wallace Goal 74'
Dodds Goal 81'
Amoruso Goal 85'
Winters Goal 55'
Derek Young Goal 59'
2001–02 Scottish Premier League 19 January 2002 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 17,846 Aberdeen 0 – 1 Rangers Amoruso Goal 34' [ac]
2004–05 Scottish League Cup
Third Round
22 September 2004 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 14,876 Aberdeen 0 – 2 Rangers Ricksen Goal 45'
Thompson Goal 89'
Malcolm Yellow card 71' Yellow-red card 90'
2006–07 Scottish Premier League 20 May 2007 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 20,010 Aberdeen 2 – 0 Rangers Severin Goal 21'
Lovell Goal 32'
2007–08 Scottish Premier League[125] 22 May 2008 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 17,509 Aberdeen 2 – 0 Rangers Miller Goal 63'
Mackie Goal 77'
Novo Red card 78' [af]
2008–09 Scottish Premier League[126] 16 May 2009 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 50,295 Rangers 2 – 1 Aberdeen Foster Goal 66' (og)
Miller Goal 68'
Bougherra Red card 40'
Paton Goal 77'
Mulgrew Red card 18'
2016–17 Scottish Premiership[99] 17 May 2017 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 48,289 Rangers 1 – 2 Aberdeen Waghorn Goal 61' Shinnie Goal 9'
Christie Goal 53'
2018–19 Scottish League Cup
28 October 2018 Hampden Park, Glasgow 46,186 Aberdeen 1 – 0 Rangers Ferguson Goal 79' [ai][aj]
2018–19 Scottish Cup
3 March 2019 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen 15,395 Aberdeen 1 – 1 Rangers Cosgrove Goal 11' (pen.) Worrall Goal 49'
2018–19 Scottish Cup
Quarter-final Replay[159][160]
12 March 2019 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 47,397 Rangers 0 – 2 Aberdeen McGinn Goal 3'
McLennan Goal 61'
2019–20 Scottish Premiership[162] 29 September 2019 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 49,992 Rangers 5 – 0 Aberdeen Tavernier Goal 20' (pen)Goal 71' (pen)
Stewart Goal 40'
Morelos Goal 50'
Defoe Goal 80'
2020–21 Scottish Premiership[167] 15 May 2021 Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow 0[al] Rangers 4 – 0 Aberdeen Lewis Goal 5' (og)
Roofe Goal 34'Goal 60'
Defoe Goal 88'


  1. ^ Rangers went on to win the 1976 Scottish Cup Final
  2. ^ Aberdeen went on to win the 1976 Scottish League Cup Final
  3. ^ 2nd leg won 3–1 by Aberdeen. Rangers went on to win the 1978 Scottish League Cup Final
  4. ^ Main article: 1978 Scottish Cup Final
  5. ^ Main article: 1979 Scottish League Cup Final (March)
  6. ^ 1st leg won 3–1 by Aberdeen, who went on to lose the 1979 Scottish League Cup Final (December)
  7. ^ Rangers went on to lose the 1980 Scottish Cup Final
  8. ^ 1st leg won 1–0 by Rangers. Aberdeen lost in the quarter-finals
  9. ^ Main article: 1982 Scottish Cup Final
  10. ^ Main article: 1983 Scottish Cup Final
  11. ^ Some Rangers supporters invaded the field after two first-half red cards by referee George Smith
  12. ^ Rangers clinched the title – their first championship for nine years
  13. ^ Rangers won 5–3 on penalties, with Peter Nicholas missing and Ian Durrant scoring the winning kick
  14. ^ Main article: 1987 Scottish League Cup Final
  15. ^ New Rangers player Neale Cooper scored on his return to Aberdeen; Ian Durrant was seriously injured by Neil Simpson
  16. ^ Main article: 1988 Scottish League Cup Final
  17. ^ Main article: 1989 Scottish League Cup Final
  18. ^ Rangers went on to win the 1990 Scottish League Cup Final
  19. ^ Rangers won their third title in a row on the final day
  20. ^ Rangers went on to win the 1992 Scottish Cup Final
  21. ^ Main article: 1992 Scottish League Cup Final
  22. ^ Main article: 1993 Scottish Cup Final
  23. ^ Rangers went on to win the 1993 Scottish League Cup Final
  24. ^ Aberdeen went on to win the 1995 Scottish League Cup Final
  25. ^ Rangers clinched their eighth consecutive title
  26. ^ Aberdeen went on to lose the 2000 Scottish League Cup Final
  27. ^ Main article: 2000 Scottish Cup Final
  28. ^ Rangers lost in the semi-finals
  29. ^ Missiles thrown by away support, home fans invaded pitch to confront them, play halted for 15 minutes
  30. ^ Rangers went on to win the 2005 Scottish League Cup Final; last cup tie til 2018
  31. ^ Aberdeen clinched 3rd place, their highest finish for 11 years
  32. ^ Rangers lost out on the league title on the final day
  33. ^ Two players sent off in first half by referee Stuart Dougal, both later rescinded and Kyle Lafferty banned[255]
  34. ^ Aberdeen's first win at Ibrox since 1991 (breaking a 43-match sequence);[98] Aberdeen finish above Rangers in the same division for first time since 1986
  35. ^ First cup meeting since 2004, first at Hampden since 2000
  36. ^ Aberdeen went on to lose the 2018 Scottish League Cup Final
  37. ^ Largest winning margin since 2004.
  38. ^ Played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland.
  39. ^ Rangers complete unbeaten league campaign.


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