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Best of enemies: Rangers v Aberdeen

Outside of the Old Firm derby, there is one controversial fixture that stands out on the SPL calendar which is considered an equally bitter rivalry, that of Rangers and Aberdeen.

Uniquely, this conflict doesn’t stem from geographical location - Aberdeen and Rangers are separated by over 100 miles of motorway.

Their history together has delivered some of Scottish football's most unsavoury confrontations, but just what is the real source of animosity that has turned these two sides from different corners of the country into hated adversaries?

There are a number of theories…
  • In 1970, the two clubs were the strongest in the division, regularly competing for titles and silverware. Some believe the candle merely continues to burn like most old rivalries.
  • From The Red Army’s point of view, Willie Johnston’s stamp on John McMaster’s neck in the 1980 league cup is widely regarded as a precursor to the resulting hostility.
  • Alex Ferguson’s European and domestic success with Aberdeen once again broke the dominance of the Old Firm.
  • Neil Simpson’s reckless challenge on Ian Durrant in 1988 left him on the sidelines for two years. When he returned to fitness, he was deemed to be a shadow of his former self. Rangers fans resent Simpson to this day. Durrant stoked the fire further in his autobiography by calling the Dons fans “Northern morons.”
  • In 2002, Robbie Winters was repeatedly pelted with coins from the Ibrox crowd causing both sets of fans to clash after only 24 minutes of play. After another 20 minute delay, riot police were summoned and numerous arrests were made.
  • Fernando Rickson’s appalling fly kick to Darren Young only heightened tensions. Ricksen refused to apologise, claiming “the boy needed straightening out.”
  • In 2009, Kyle Lafferty feigned injury during an SPL clash which saw Charlie Mulgrew subsequently red carded. This incident is remembered for Lafferty’s poor conduct afterwards, winking to his Rangers team mate.
  • Richard Gough has gone on record to publically criticise Aberdeen for “only ever trying against Rangers.”

Whatever their original reasons, Rangers and Aberdeen remain fierce foes and will continue to produce heated games whenever they meet.

By Chris Kelso


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