Everyone involved with the Dons felt great sorrow at the news that 1960's goalscorer extraordinaire, Ernie Winchester, died in Watford, 8th May 2013 at the age of only 68.
Torry loon Ernie, who was born on the 18th of May 1944, was a stalwart player who joined AFC from Torry School, making his debut on 25th April 1962 in a 1-0 victory over Rangers. His first senior goal came 3 games later in August 1962 when Motherwell were beaten 4-0. Described in a 1964 programme profile as being "very strong and much feared" Ernie made 169 first team appearances for the Dons scoring 91 goals. This was all the more remarkable because the team was not having the best of times during Ernie's six seasons at Pittodrie.
One of his most famous matches came in the Scottish Cup replay against Hibernian in 1967. Pittodrie housed an estimated 44,000 spectators that March evening, as two goals from hero/villain Ernie Winchester, recalled in place of Jimmy Smith, and one from recently signed striker Jim Storrie brushed aside the Leithers' challenge. Turnbull recalled his tactics for the early part of the game:
"Hibs had a Danish player Madsen. Jim Smith was injured and missed the replay. I brought "The Gun" in, big Ernie. If you were watching a video of this it would bear me out. I told the team to play the ball up Hibs' right hand side so that Madsen's drawn out. I said to Ernie to immediately get up there and meet this guy because he was a bit soft. He did it and that was the guy out of the game and we were bang on song..."
Ernie's great friend, Ally Shewan, told us "He was a fantastic guy, me and him teamed up when we were at Pittodrie, and became good friends, he was best man for my first marriage. He was a straightforward person, no fancy business about him. Ernie wouldn't have harmed a fly, unless you were a centre back he was playing against.
As a player, they could be doing with a few more like him now, he knew what was wanted. He was a proper old-fashioned centre forward who got stuck in, worked hard, and scored some great goals.
Ernie was good fun to be with and I enjoyed his company. It meant a lot for me to be able to lead the applause at Pittodrie when the Dons played Hearts at the close of this season."
Another team-mate, Jim Whyte said: "He was a gentle giant, Ernie was a quiet lad who just got on with his business. He wasn't a Jack the Lad or a prankster, just a good person. He was big and strong, and he used that well. He was the sort of player who was capable of scoring absolute wonder goals."
Following a contractual dispute with the Dons, Ernie left Scotland to play in for a summertime season and may also have played in Germany for a brief spell. Donald, Ernie's son, told us a little about the American adventure: "Whilst there, he played against Pele, scored thirteen goals in his first thirteen games, and won a division title."
A Scottish Schoolboy Internationalist, Ernie was clearly a well travelled player before joining Hearts in 1968 when a sine die SFA ban was lifted after Kansas City Spurs who had taken over Chicago Spurs' franchise in the USA, came to a financial settlement with Aberdeen for the player's services. He finished his career at the age of 29 at Arbroath, where he played as a sweeper, in the early seventies.
Every Aberdeen fan who watched Ernie plying his trade at Pittodrie in the 1960's will have memories of the big man and a story or two to tell as the recall the huge and eventful contribution that he made to the Dons of that Era.