It had taken the club many years to produce its first six full Scottish caps, yet under Alex Ferguson the Dons could provide international manager Jock Stein with more than half the Scottish side even with Willie Miller missing through injury!
While technically the honour of becoming the sixth and record breaking Dark Blue Don fell to Mark McGhee, it was the inclusion of another Aberdeen player, full back Doug Rougvie, which made the record possible. Rougvie's selection for Scotland's trip to Northern Ireland, in the last game under the guise of the British Championship, came out of the blue and raised a few eyebrows.
Big Doug had no international pedigree to speak of at youth or under-21 level, but was picked on the strength of his impressive club performances, particularly in big European competitions. The timing of the game was a factor too, as it came just 12 days before Christmas. This prompted Stein to go for a mainly home-based side, with skipper Graeme Souness the sole "Anglo" in the side. As a result, Doug ran out proudly at Windsor Park alongside Jim Leighton, Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan and Peter Weir to join the ranks of the Dark Blue Dons. Willie Miller would also almost certainly have been on the side but for a rare injury.
In the event, Rougvie had a bit of a torrid time as the Irish, inspired by the "snub" of Scotland and England dropping the annual fixture, ran the Scots ragged to achieve a merited 2-0 win. That chilly evening in Belfast proved to be big Doug's one and only taste of international action, with Arthur Albiston returning for subsequent fixtures to reclaim his Scotland spot, before Maurice Malpas went on to make the left back position his own for many years. In the eyes of the Aberdeen faithful, however, Doug's cap was a fitting honour for a player who often set Pittodrie buzzing with his wholehearted play.
Rougvie, a Fifer by birth, joined the Dons from junior side Dunfermline United in 1972 in the early days of the Jimmy Bonthrone era as manager. Primarily a centre half, young Rougvie was tried out in both defence and midfield as he developed in reserve football, spending a spell farmed out to the now defunct local junior club Rosemount.
The big fellow was given a couple of first team outings in midfield by Ally McLeod during the 1975-76 season, but made little impact and returned to the humdrum of life in reserve football. Doug had to look on as fellow reserves such as Duncan Davidson, Bobby Street, Bobby Glennie and Ian Gibson were touted as future stars. Many pundits had him slated as an "in-between" player, who never failed to make an impression at second team level but did not quite seem to make the grade in the top flight.
Towards the end of the 1976-77 campaign, however, Doug again came into the first team picture and did enough to suggest that maybe he had the ability to make it as a top team player. Having worked hard to convince Ally McLeod of his potential, Doug's first team hopes received a setback when Ally left Pittodrie in May 1977 to take over as Scotland boss.
Under new manager Billy McNeill, he got only one chance to shine, coming on to replace Bobby Glennie at full back following an internal club disciplinary matter in January 1978. The following year McNeill was off to Celtic Park, and with Alex Ferguson in charge at Pittodrie, the big Fifer finally got his big break - almost literally so, after regular first choice centre half Willie Garner broke a leg playing in a European tie in Bulgaria in September 1978.
At first young Alex McLeish was given a chance to grab the vacant No.5 berth, but a few games later Rougvie was handed the job on a regular basis and he held on to the jersey until Garner returned to first team action in April 1979. For a spell during the 1979-80 season, the Dons played with three No.5's, namely Garner, Rougvie and McLeish, in the same team. Garner was at centre half, Rougvie in the problem left back slot, and McLeish in midfield. Looking back now, it can be seen that the Dons push for league title glory that season began with Alex Ferguson deciding on a back four formation of Kennedy, McLeish, Miller and Rougvie.
Over the next four full seasons, big Doug, who was christened "the Ballingry Bat", became an important part of the most successful side in the club's history and built a special relationship with Dons fans that endures to this day. His enthusiastic, no-nonsense approach to the game endeared him to supporters, who liked nothing better than a Rougvie charge down the left flank.
Doug's size and immense presence were enough to make many an opposing forward hope the ball would just stay on the other side of the park for the day! Managers of other sides, such as Ipswich's Bobby Robson, often identified Doug as the possible weak link in an almost impregnable Aberdeen back division. But when it came to a big match, invariably Rougvie was pumped up for the occasion and was virtually unbeatable. When he was in the mood, then the whole team seemed to move up a gear, while his ability to play anywhere in the back four also gave manager Ferguson the ability to make tactical changes on the park without necessarily using his subs.
Another facet of big Doug's play was his menace in attacking set piece situations. Opposing defenders simply couldn't ignore him, and despite their attentions he enjoyed a healthy strike rate for a defender. In August 1984, after gaining three Scottish Cup winners medals, two League Championship medals, a European Cup Winners Cup medal and that single cap while with the Dons, Doug made a surprise move to Chelsea. He had three seasons at Stamford Bridge before joining struggling Brighton as skipper during the 1987 close season. A short spell at the Goldstone Ground was followed by brief spells at Shewsbury and Fulham before Doug returned north to bolster Dunfermline's promotion push during the 1988-89 campaign. He later joined Montrose as player manager in partnership with ex-Don Chic McLelland, subsequently moving to Highland League outfit Huntly.