The most important match in Scotland on Saturday was that between Aberdeen and Renton, who met at Dens Park, Dundee, in the final tie for the Scottish Qualifying Cup. The game was witnessed by over 9000 ,people, the money taken at the gates amounting to £224 6s 6d, being £3 less than the record established at Celtic Park two years ago. The amount taken at the stands was £40 19s 6d, making a grand total of £265 6s. About 2000 people travelled from Aberdeen to view the match. The ground, owing to the severe frost of the preceding few days, was hard and slippery, but it had been swept clear of snow and carefully prepared and was declared playable. The teams were as follows:-Aberdeen - Macfarlane; Murray; and McNicol; Halkett, Strang, and Lowe; Robertson, McAulay and Ritchie. Renton - Long: Lindsay and Mitchell; McIntyre, McCallum and McLean; Sellars, Carr, Cameron, Speedie, and White.
Mr. J. McArthur, Stirling, was referee.
Aberdeen lost the toss and played with the sun in their faces. Opening with great dash Renton bore down upon their opponents' goal and for a time McFarlane and his backs had to be on the alert. The ball was swung out to Robertson, however, and he initiated a smart run to the other end but nothing definite resulted. Again Renton cam away and getting well up Sellars let fly but to the relief of the Aberdeen crowd the ball missed the desired haven. There was no mistaking Renton's earnestness and energy and their bustling tactics somewhat upset the calculations of the Aberdeen backs who flurried and miskicked occasionally. Murray was forced to concede a corner which was beautifully taken but Halkett effected an equally smart clearance and McAulay led the way to the other end of the field. Renton, however, were not to be shaken off and back they came towards McFarlane and forced another corner. Fortunately this was not improved upon but they maintained the aggressive and Aberdeen's goal had some very narrow escapes. Ritchie relieved the pressure with a clever run to the other end but his colleagues were not up in time and his cross into goal went abegging. A second time he essayed a run but when in a good position he was bustled off the ball. Renton halves and backs were playing a magnificent game and try as they might the Aberdeen players could only occasionally get past the solid defence they presented. Renton were undoubtedly having the better of the exchanges at this juncture and were within an ace of scoring through McCallum who sent in a nice high shot. McFarlane managed to keep it out and no more with the tips of his fingers and many were under the impression that the ball had crossed the line. From the press box it was clear, however, that it had not and although there were loud cries of "goal!" the referee paid no attention. The game continued to be fought out in spirited fashion despite the slippery nature of the ground and there were wonderfully few fouls or evidences of rough play. The men from the north now began to pick up their true form and to give as good as they got. They had a prolonged spell at attacking and some really fine efforts were made to score, McAulay in particular having hard lines with a lightning shot. A corner was forced, but nothing resulted. Back came Renton and again Aberdeen's goal escaped a fall by inches. Sellars, who had been playing a grand game, drove in a hard low shot from 20 yards out. The ball hit the post, and McFarlane throwing himself full length on the ground, just managed to divert it past as it was rebounding into the net. It was a grand save, and McFarlane well deserved the cheer which his effort elicited. Renton pressed hard after this, and were stretching Aberdeen to their fullest extent. Raising the siege,
Aberdeen had a look in, and Harry Low had a long raking shot which just missed by inches. Until the interval play was fast and close, first Aberdeen and then Renton having the whip hand. At half-time neither team had scored.
Aberdeen resumed in business-like fashion, and it was soon apparent that they were to be the only lot in it in the second half. A minute after the start good work by the inside men let Lowe away, and he tested Long with a fast, low shot, which the goalkeeper was fain to throw behind. The resulting corner was smartly taken, and another followed from a fine effort by G. McNicol. Swarming round the Renton goal, Aberdeen were again and again on the point of scoring. The pressure was bound to tell, and fifteen minutes after the restart came the much-desired goal. Ritchie planted a corner right in front of Long amongst a crowd of Aberdeen players. The ball passed from foot to foot, and it appeared as though it would be got away, when G. McNicol got it and drove it from close range into goal. This was all that was required to raise the excitement to fever heat. The goal which Aberdeen scored seemed to take the heart out of Renton, and from this stage onwards they had to concentrate all their efforts towards keeping out their eager opponents. The boot was now fairly on the other foot, and all Aberdeen's forwards had tries at Long. Lowe, who was rather hampered by the close attentions of the opposing halves, was not seen at his best, but occasionally got away and showed a glimpse of what he could do. From a fine pass back by him, Ritchie had a good chance against the goalkeeper, who was forced to give a corner. Renton had a run up, but McNicol nipped the ball away when matters were looking dangerous, and Aberdeen returned to the charge. Renton's goal had many narrow escapes, and it was only Long's vigilance which prevented them scoring for a time. Ten minutes from the close, Aberdeen scored their second point. McNicol was again the executant, and he gave Long no chance of keeping out the ball. Renton were completely outplayed, and until the finish remained on the defensive. Just on the call of time the Renton captain handed a protest to the referee, alleging that the ground was unfit for play. The game resulted Aberdeen 2 goals; Renton 0.
The most remarkable feature of an exciting match was the manner in which Aberdeen played up in the second half. Renton in the first half it must be admitted, played a very strong game, but they were beaten in the second by sheer ability and pluck. In a team which played well it would be invidious to single out any member for special mention, but, admittedly, McFarlane gave a very fine exhibition in goal. Murray was rather the better of the backs. Halkett and Lowe in the half-back line gave a finished display, while the forwards combined beautifully at times and played sound football. The Renton backs were the mainstay of the team in the first half, but latterly, their form fell away. Sellars was the best of a bustling forward line.
THE PROTEST WITHDRAWN.
Considerable consternation was caused by the handing in of the protest. While the referee was reading the slip of paper time had expired, and then it was made known that the protest was lodged by Renton on the unplayability of the ground. On inquiry at the Scottish officials, it was stated that if the protest was persisted in, there would be no presentation of the cup that evening. To this the Aberdeen officials naturally demurred. As there were a great number of the Scottish Committee present, a meeting was convened in the pavilion. The members present were unanimous that there was no justification for a protest, as the rule on the point distinctly states that "protests on the unplayability of grounds, goal posts, or other appurtenances of the game must be lodged before the start of the game." All the same it was felt that the protest must be considered at a properly convened meeting, and several undertook to interview the Renton officials on the point, Mr Spalding taking chief part. On pointing out that there was not the slightest chance of gaining anything by protesting, but the likelihood of losing, and the further fact that the Renton players themselves were against protesting, as they were beaten by a better team, led to a further consultation. The referee and several of the Renton officials were then interviewed by the S.F.A. in the pavilion, and the result was that the Renton officials withdrew the protest. The decision was intimated to the Aberdeen before they left the grounds, and they were extremely pleased at the action which had been taken both by the S. F. A. and the Renton players. The referee considered the grounds quite playable and at no time dangerous. It would be impossible at this season of the year to be of the billiard table order, and Dens Park was in as good condition as it was possible to make any grounds in the circumstances.
PRESENTATION OF THE CUP
In Wood's Commercial Restaurant, both teams and officials were entertained to tea after the match - Councillor Stevenson, president, S.F.A., presiding. Amongst the leading officials present at the head of the table were:- Messrs. Dixon, treasurer, S.F.A.; Spalding (Dundee), Hutton (Stenhousemuir), Christie and Cruikshank (Perthshire), Liddle (Queen?s Park), Watson (Lanarkshire), Cameron (Dundee), Wallace (Dundee), J. K. McDowall, secretary, S.F.A., and others. After tea, the Chairman proposed the usual loyal toasts, and those having been pledged, a song was rendered by Mr Morrison (Falkirk), linesman.
The Chairman rose and said that as time was short, he would proceed with the principal business which had brought them together - the presentation of the Qualifying Cup. In doing so, he congratulated the Aberdeen on their success, and hoped they would reach still higher in the football world, which was their great aim. He stated that he had seen every final since the present Qualifying Cup was given for competition, and he would say this, that he had never seen a better final played. The game was free from every rough or shady tactics, and was a credit to both teams. In asking Shoremaster Milne to accept the cup on behalf of Aberdeen, he trusted the team would make a good appearance in the competitions in which they were engaged. The health of the Aberdeen team and officials were enthusiastically pledged.
Shoremaster Milne, in accepting the cup on behalf of the Aberdeen club, said they could well understand his feelings as president of the club in standing there to accept the splendid trophy - (applause). As one who had taken a great interest in the game in the north for many years, and more especially in the connection with the amalgamation of the three clubs which took place last year in Aberdeen, it gave him great pleasure to be there that night and to be the recipient of that handsome cup. He was sure that he voiced the opinion of every director, every shareholder, and every player when he said they were very proud that they were in the position they occupied that nigh - (applause). He could not help referring to the position of football in the north, and saying that they in Aberdeen - although they thought that they had been to a certain extent slighted in not getting perhaps what they would have liked - had shown that they were not so far back in the game of football as some of their friends would like to make out - (applause). In Aberdeen, he was sorry to say, they had their enemies, and more was the pity, but he thought the members of the club and the players would go back to Aberdeen well pleased with themselves - (applause). He was very proud to accept the cup - (applause).
The toast to the losers, "Renton" was proposed by Mr Dixon, and replied to by Mr Peter Campbell, the father of the "Rantin" Club. Votes of thanks to the Dundee F.C., referee, and linesmen, were proposed and agreed to. A similar compliment was paid to Councillor Stevenson for presiding, and the gathering dispersed.
THE TEAM'S HOME-COMING.
An enormous crowd had assembled at the Joint Station to welcome home the successful team. The interior of the station and the square outside were crowded with cheering enthusiast, while mouth organs, accordions and bagpipe gave forth their respective harmonies, the principal idea being a gallant effort to produce "See the Conquering Hero Comes." The effect in itself was rather striking, though some fault might have been found in the quality of the music. Each member of the team as he left the saloon carriage was seized on by his particular set of partisans and carried shoulder high out of the station, and several of them up the street. The appearance of one of the directors caused an even greater outburst of cheers. Such a scene of wild enthusiasm has seldom been witnessed at the Joint Station, and to all appearances football has a greater hold on the Aberdeen public than ever it has had hitherto.
A large crowd of people gathered in Union Street opposite the "Free Press" Office to await the publication of the result of the match. A special football edition of the "Evening Gazette" giving the result of the match, along with a description and notes of the match, etc., was printed shortly after the whistle blew, and within a few minutes was selling on the streets. There was a great demand for the papers, and the announcement of Aberdeen's victory was received with great enthusiasm.
Mr Walter Arnott, writing on football in Aberdeen in the "Glasgow Evening Times," says:- "I have many a time wondered why those who had the power to place Aberdeen in First League football have not done so. There is no doubt in my mind as to it being a splendid centre, and it only requires to be connected with first class football to bring out all its possibilities. I do think that if they were to be in this class there would be a 15000 to 20000 crowd to support them. I have heard it averred that one of the objections to Aberdeen is the fact of its being so far away, and that it means leaving on the Friday night. But I can hardly think there is any foundation in this, for it only means each club paying one visit per season and it is such a splendid trip that from every standpoint I'm quite sure clubs would find a good deal of pleasure in it. Then look at the big districts around Aberdeen, and the strapping athletic fellows to be found in them. If the game were thoroughly gone into, what a field there is for adding to the playing strength of Scottish football. Unquestionably the nucleus is there, and it is now ripe for development."
Of Saturday's game the same paper says:-
Renton went north with great hopes and a great reputation. They returned with hurt feelings, not to speak of the fact that popular estimate of their greatness on this afternoon's display was not flattering. Aberdeen from start to finish, by sheer cleverness, always demonstrated their superiority, and the score is no exaggeration. Renton relied on hard kicking and quick following up, but they had to deal with seasoned players bred in a different class, and class told. One man, and that man Lindsay, was on a par with the Aberdonians; the others, while playing well, never touched the degree of excellence necessary. Murray was a long way the better of the winning backs, and Halkett at times displayed positive genius in his half-back play. McAulay and McNicol were the best forwards.
The "Glasgow Evening News" says:- A good hard, and closely contested game, the final was quite as good as any in the history of the cup, and had the ground conditions been better the play would have been improved. In the first half Renton had decidedly the pull, and by hard, determined play they made matters most uncomfortable for Aberdeen. In the second half, however, it was Aberdeen's game all over, and they were well due their victory and capture of the cup. Their play as a team was in advance of Renton, who, however, are to be complimented on the great show they made against a heavier, and, we may say, more experienced eleven.
The total number of footballing enthusiast who travelled from Aberdeen to Dundee on Saturday forenoon to cheer on their team to victory is estimated at between 1400 and 1500. No fewer than three special trains were required to convey the excursionists. The Caledonian train left at 11:30 with well over 600, and it was followed a few minutes after by the first North British train. The second train followed at noon. The number who travelled by the N.B. is estimated at 800.
Source: Aberdeen Evening Gazette, Saturday 26th November 1904