Aberdeen played their first Scottish League match with an Edinburgh team on Saturday, when they met the Hibernians at Pittodrie. The weather was ideal, and the game was witnessed by a crowd of about 7000. The teams were:-
Aberdeen:- Macfarlane; Willox, Gault; Halkett, Strang, Low; Robertson, Edgar, McNicol, McAulay, Lennie.
Hibernians: Rennie; Hogg, McConnachie; Breslin, Maine, Grieve; Stewart, Laurie, Hagen, Callaghan, Campbell.
Referee - Mr. Murray, Stenhousemuir.
Rab Macfarlane, the popular Aberdeen captain, with his usual luck, won the toss, and send the Hibs to defend the east goal with the sun and a slight breeze in their faces. The Hibs forwards made no headway from the kick off. McAulay slipping cutely in and intercepting the initial pass. Breslin returned the ball, and the Edinburgh right wingers, tricking Willox, bore down on the Aberdeen goal, and warned Mcfarlane's fingers. The fair-haired goalkeeper got his hands on the ball low down just on the post, and give away a corner. In a spell of pressure, Gault was prominent for tackling and clean punting. Gault allowed Stewart to slip past him, but Willox intercepted the cross with his head, and ultimately the ball was grabbed by Macfarlane, whose kick out opened up play a bit, allowing Robertson to get off on a characteristic run. The pass to the centre, however, was too high. Robertson used his full weight against McConnachie, but, although he grassed the big back, he lost the ball on the line. In the first 20 minutes the game was very fast, the ball traveling backwards and forwards from end to end with bewildering speed. The Aberdeen half-backs were totally unable to stem the rushes of the Hibs, and showed a shakiness and lack of method that boded ill for the black and gold stripes. McAulay, after the ball had been worked neatly towards Rennie by McNicol, made a commendable attempt at scoring in an awkward position near the goal line, and just missed by inches. Hibs then broke away and Campbell shot over the bar. At the other end, Rennie's skill was severely tested. McNicol sent out to Lennie, who trickily drove the ball low and fast through many legs. Rennie was on the alert, and picked up the ball and threw it out, although hampered by the attentions of the Aberdeen burley centre. Halkett was hopelessly outwitted and outplayed by the Edinburgh left wing, and was giving a display of wild rushing unusual for such a brainy and finished half-back. From a foul against Aberdeen, Macfarlane held a long shot. After Willox, closely pressed, had kicked into touch, Macfarlane had again to fist. Clearly Hibs, meant business, their bustling and rushing long passing style of play completely preventing the Aberdeen eleven from settling down to their usual game. The scrambling play of Low, Strang, and Halkett, the half-backs, was mainly responsible for this, McAulay and Edgar and McNicol also failed to make the most of the opportunities. But for the ever-ready Macfarlane and the stubborn work of Willox and Gault, Aberdeen by this time might have had some leeway to make up. Macfarlane with amusing sangfroid, repulsed attempts on his citadel by Breslin and Callaghan. Long-distance shooting has no terrors for Rab. So on the game went ding-dong, Hibs, doing most of the forcing, and the Aberdeen rear defence resolutely repulsing the raiders. Lennie occasionally sacrificed progress goalwards in order to show how trickily he could beat Breslin. Juggling is amusing, but it is not synonymous with goal-getting. On one occasion the Aberdeen goal was so fiercely bombarded that it was marvellous how the ball did not reach the net. Nearly all the players were clustered around Macfarlane, and the ball bobbed about until it was ultimately barged over the line, to the intense relief of the Aberdeen's supporters. At the other end, from a cross by Robertson, Edgar trickily drew out the Hibs defence, and Strang drove hard at Rennie. The shot was on the right line, but a trifle high. Low also had a try, and Rennie held a fast grounder. McNicol was continually lying off side, and was repeatedly pulled up when attempting to pick up a pass. Robertson charged Grieve rather forcibly, and plate was stopped until the Hib recovered his "wind." The Aberdeen goal continued in some jeopardy, and only a momentary hesitation on the part of Laurie, who had nobody to beat but Macfarlane, gave Gault sufficient time to dash across and knock the Hib off when he was stooping, the ball going over the bar. Willox, although not so consistently steady as Gault, showed more finished play, his heading being particularly effective. With an improvement in speed, Willox would probably prove one of the best of backs. McNicol lost several opportunities owing to being too slow in manoeuvring. For a time Aberdeen held their own, but to the end of the first half their inferiority to the visitors was distinctly marked. The defence was grand, Gault being repeatedly cheered for his of vigorous work. Macfarlane twice saved, and one very dangerous shot caused him to throw himself full length in order to stop the ball.
After the Hibs had started the second half of the game in sprightly fashion, the center-forward breaking through and sending the ball over the bar, a complete change came over the aspect of the game. The Aberdeen, playing with dash and precision, wore down the Hibs half-backs and gradually the Aberdeen middle lined settled down, Strang's tackling being particularly noticeable. For a time weakness in the Aberdeen forward line was frequently apparent. McNicol, in dead line with the Edinburgh goal, made a mistake in back-heeling a pass out to Lennie when his obvious duty was to have gone straight in and shot the ball himself. Hibernians, however, were the first to score. They got their goal through weak clearing by Willox, although the ball did not immediately go through. The right back kicked the ball against an opponent, and Macfarlane, called upon thus unexpectedly, by wonderful agility and quickness of eye affected a marvellous save. He got the ball away, but that was all. It was driven in again with great force from the right, and Macfarlane just tipped it over the bar. The ball, however, rolled along, and dropped down in front of a Hibernian, who easily placed it in the net, Macfarlane claiming off-side in vain. Stung by this reverse, the ground team played with fire and dash, but for a time the Hibs gave as good as they got. A raking shot from Campbell took Macfarlane to his knees, but the goalkeeper was not to be beaten again. A minute later Rab fisted a high shot, and then for a time he was free from anxiety. Aberdeen pressed hard, and exciting play in front of Rennie was witnessed. The Internationalist goalkeeper, seeing that his work was to be hard, rolled up his sleeves. He fisted out in a scrimmage. Aberdeen forced a corner, and Halkett, who was now himself again, was cheered for the plucky way in which he stuck to the ball, and almost worked his way through a close pack. McAulay and McNicol also had tries at goal, but both were unsuccessful. McNicol had several plucky runs, in which he was more than a match for both the Edinburgh backs, although his parting shots were always wide. Lennie gave Rennie a shot to fist out. Still playing with great dash, and hemming in the Hibs, Aberdeen were frequently dangerous. At last the equaliser came, as the result of one of the best pieces of play of the match. Strang brought the ball up the field, and tipped it to McNicol. With the judgment which comes of long experience, McNicol, by feinting, brought Rennie forward. He then cutely lifted the ball over Hogg's head, and Robertson running in, steadied himself, and with a clever shot completely beat Rennie, who was standing dead in line with the Aberdeen forward. Robertson's opening was narrow, and he shot with fine judgment. The crowd cheered, and for a short time, amid yells of encouragement, the Aberdeen team swept the opposition aside. Hibs were made to look like third-raters, so helpless were they in the face of the overwhelming Aberdeen attack. McNicol, single-handed, was more than once almost through, and in one of his tricky, dodging runs he passed the backs, and when well inside the penalty line, and about to shoot, he was tripped and brought to the grass by one of the pursuing backs. The referee at once gave a penalty kick. Low, who last year failed to beat Rennie in a similar test, kicked the ball straight at the internationalist goalkeeper, who, of course, getting his fist upon it, cleared. Aberdeen continued to force the pace, not that Hibs were lying down. The greens had many dashing runs to the other end, and Macfarlane got several hot shots to hold, one of them taking him to his knees. Rennie also distinguished himself by saving when surrounded by the Aberdeen forwards. Aberdeen got the winning goal from a corner. Lennie placed the ball beautifully, and Rennie, misjudging the flight, sprang out, fisted, and missed, and Robertson, lying in position, gently headed the ball into the net. Aberdeen, still pressing, looked like scoring again, and a rocket shot from McAulay, deserved a better fate than it received. It was traveling straight for a corner of the net, when McNicol's head came in the way.
Gate, including stands, £200.
Source: Aberdeen Daily Journal, 18th September 1905