Click here to go back to the AFC Heritage Trust Homepage Aberdeen Football Club Heritage Trust Logo  
Latest AFC News
Latest News search news archive
Monday, 15 July 2019 - 15:41
dating the dugout
donald colman's innovation
Saturday, 08 June 2019 - 12:47
mission complete - bob and jock cover the grounds
32 in 32 becomes 44 in 39.5
Friday, 26 April 2019 - 08:20
bob and jock ready to go again
#afc32in32 - 32 grounds in 32 hours for the heritage trustees
Wednesday, 06 February 2019 - 16:46
afc heritage book store
buy a book and help preserve your afc heritage!
Monday, 07 January 2019 - 16:27
origins
that's why they call them "the dons"
Saturday, 01 December 2018 - 12:38
news of the day
more historical snippets coming from afc heritage trust.
Tuesday, 11 September 2018 - 11:15
remembering aberdeen association fc
afc heritage trust remembers the foundation of the aberdeen association football club
Aberdeen Association Founders Plaque
Monday, 30 July 2018 - 14:31
afc former players annual golf outing 2018
event to be held at craibstone golf course 14th sep
Friday, 13 July 2018 - 19:51
aberdeen captain shot dead
fundraiser turns to disaster.
Aberdeen's First Badge
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 - 16:54
fundraising fans to help the heritage trust
aberdeen fc superfans to visit 18 highland league clubs in 18 hours to raise funds for new museum
AFC18in18 logo
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 - 15:29
numbers on the front
the definitive story of the washington whips 1967
Thursday, 09 November 2017 - 20:02
armistice day 2017
event at pittodrie
Sunday, 08 October 2017 - 16:25
numbers on the front
the story of the washington whips
Saturday, 19 August 2017 - 13:39
jimmy philip lecture
ref who became manager
Trust Logo
Wednesday, 19 July 2017 - 10:31
female footballers in aberdeen
first women's football in the granite city?
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 - 11:27
lady footballers at pittodrie

fine display by dick kerr's xi

plucky display by aberdeen team

Friday, 14 April 2017 - 17:34
a fanzine story
thirty years old this year - the northern light and its heirs
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 - 15:51
one for the statos
lennie loses a goal
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 - 10:50
prized programme gifted to afc heritage
rare programme from aberdeen's first european away match added to the aberdeen collection
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 - 18:05
big red quiz 2016
come and have a go if you think you're red enough!
Saturday, 03 September 2016 - 10:36
peacock add to the aberdeen collection
the dons and pink floyd come together on the peacock stand at the aaf
Tuesday, 19 July 2016 - 18:39
jimmy philip medal
jimmy gains a canadian gift
Tuesday, 07 June 2016 - 16:21
whips remembered
special memento of the washington whips team.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 - 20:01
tales from the dugout
a collection of sometimes ribald football stories about what goes on in dugouts across the country.
Tuesday, 10 November 2015 - 15:34
armistice day at pittodrie
2015 commemoration
Remembrance Poppy
Tuesday, 27 October 2015 - 14:44
big red quiz 2015
annual challenge to find the reddest fans around!
Sunday, 06 September 2015 - 14:42
if goalposts could talk
the life and times of inverurie locomotive works football club
by david r. fasken
Sunday, 30 August 2015 - 17:40
graham leggat - star of the a. f. c.
always a hero
Saturday, 01 August 2015 - 16:17
opening day 1899
language, gentlemen, please!
Saturday, 22 November 2014 - 16:44
historic poster revealed
afc heritage and buckie thistle rescue a shared piece of aberdeenshire cup history
Monday, 10 November 2014 - 16:25
armistice day at pittodrie
the sixth annual commemoration to remember aberdeen fc's war dead to be held.
Monday, 13 October 2014 - 11:53
vintage boots discovered
a pair of football boots dating to 1904 to go on show at pittodrie.
Saturday, 11 October 2014 - 11:59
big red quiz a big red success
knowledgeable dons fans help raise funds for afc heritage
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 - 20:34
big red quiz night
show off your dandy knowledge and help the funds of the afc heritage trust - friday 10th october 2014.
come and have a go if you think you know enough!
Thursday, 17 July 2014 - 16:54
a view on football
aberdeen under the football fiend. (by an occasional)
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 - 12:59
a new display for the latest trophy
dons' fans help to get the league cup on show at pittodrie
Monday, 31 March 2014 - 14:02
coca-cola bike winner announced
stephen's bike goes north
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 - 13:56
happy real birthday aberdeen
aberdonian football hits 132 years old.
Friday, 14 February 2014 - 11:47
king of the wild frontier
sing a song of graham leggat
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 - 16:10
remembrance event on monday
pittodrie remembers
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 - 15:05
medal comes home to pittodrie
after 66 years willie waddell's cup medal finds a new home
Thursday, 08 August 2013 - 13:14
1904 and all that
the "1904 door" sorted
Sunday, 24 March 2013 - 15:09
the aberdeen collection growing
very early pittodrie programme acquired
Monday, 31 December 2012 - 13:24
trf cartoonist does his bit for afc heritage
special artwork to entertain the red army.
Saturday, 10 November 2012 - 13:31
the aberdeen men can't play football
the story of victorian football in aberdeen.
Sunday, 04 November 2012 - 15:22
trust store opens
heritage and related publications avaialable online.
Saturday, 29 September 2012 - 11:08
cycling away for afc heritage trust
dons' fan puts in the effort.
Saturday, 21 April 2012 - 13:38
new magazine available
share with the former players
Friday, 02 March 2012 - 10:52
mind my bike
top defender enjoys narrow escape.
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 - 12:40
an historic encounter
rare meeting at forfar
origins

07 January 2019 16:27

On the 9th of October 1905 a publisher in Glasgow turned out the 1,640th edition of "The Scottish Referee" a twice-weekly sporting publication that had been on the go since 1888. On the front page (of six) appeared a feature entitled "The Referee's Notebook" and there, at the top of the third column, right at the top of the page, is an article entitled "The 'Dons.'"
At first glance, to a present-day Dandy, this may not seem too remarkable, but what you have before you is the first ever* print reference to Aberdeen FC as "The Dons."
Ever since Jack Webster brought out his excellent history of the Club, also entitled "The Dons," there has been speculation about where the nickname comes from. Jack's best guess was that it had something to do with the Club's origins in 1881 when the majority of the founding players were teachers. Others speculated that the name came from the River Don or was some sort of contraction of "Aberdonians." Neither of these has ever seemed very convincing. Research carried out by the Heritage Trust almost had us on another false trail when we discovered that recent Hall of Fame inductee Donald Colman, was popularly know as "The Don" back in the day, but no.
We have yet to discover the name of the journalist in "The Scottish Referee" who applied the label to our players - or more likely team, but it looks as if he was the originator of a nickname that gradually caught on and has stuck ever since.
The meaning of the term as used in this publication seems to have been applied to teams that were going well or had had an impressive success. Aberdeen were not the first to be so called, with a quick backward search unearthing the term being applied on one occasion in January 1905 to Manchester United who at the time were riding high in the English Second Division, and were described as "The Dons of the Second Division". Later in the same month a team named Edinburgh Belford were similarly branded: "The Dons are well-nigh-invincible."
Of course, it could also be that he was seeing certain teams as excellent purveyors of the art and science of the game whom he equated to University Dons or college members, but that still steers the origin away from the collection of founding players of 1881, even if they were in the education trade. More likely than the outside possibility that he was thinking of Spanish gentlemen.
So it is a term that singles out a team as being excellent. Why it stuck with us, rather than some other club, will probably never be explained, but we can thank this unknown journalist from a Glaswegian weekly for our Club, or Team, being known as "The Dons."

*Unless someone can tell us otherwise.