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Rangers v Aberdeen: A history of violence

Rangers play host to Aberdeen on Saturday in what's now largely regarded as one of the most controversial fixtures in Scotland. The intense rivalry isn't borne out of geographical reasons with the two teams separated by 150 miles of motorway. But that doesn't stop the opposing fans from creating an intimidating atmosphere second only to the Old Firm clashes.

The Dons fans will again make their way down south to Ibrox this weekend in the hope of seeing their club win their first match in Govan since 1991. And now, more than ever, Pittodrie boss Mark McGhee is in need of a record breaking victory in the wake of the catastrophic CIS Cup defeat to First Division Dundee.

So exactly why are the two teams such huge rivals?

There are several theories as to why the fixtures involving the sides are now so explosive with Aberdeen long accused of "raising their game" for encounters against Rangers.

However, a history of flashpoints has only heightened the hype around the fiery fixture.

Perhaps one of the most unsavoury incidents took place back in 1980 when Willie Johnston stamped on John McMaster's neck at Ibrox in a Scottish League Cup tie and that still lives long in the memory of many Aberdeen fans.

But most commentators point to the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson's all-conquering side broke the Old Firm stranglehold on the Scottish game.

Fergie's team enjoyed considerable success both domestically and on the continent making them the team to beat on home turf and subsequently increasing their rivalry with Rangers and Celtic.

One of Ferguson's key tactics was to convince his charges everyone in the West of Scotland including the media and the opposing clubs were totally against them.

This further stoked the flames of the simmering rivalry between Aberdeen and Rangers. The Ibrox club eventually appointed Graeme Souness as their manager not long before Ferguson left Pittodrie to take over at Manchester United.

Souness was determined to make sure Rangers returned to the position of top dogs in Scotland and set his sights on knocking Aberdeen off their perch.

The two clubs were involved in another flashpoint when Ian Durrant suffered a career-threatening injury at Pittodrie in 1988 following a challenge with Neil Simpson. Durrant was ruled out of action for nearly three years before making his comeback in 1991.

Later that season, Rangers crushed Aberdeen's title dream with a 2-0 final day victory at Ibrox to clinch the Championship. Alex Smith's Dons side only needed a point but froze on the day allowing Mark Hateley to take full advantage as he notched a double to claim glory.

The following season Aberdeen did at least regain some revenge when Eoin Jess and Brian Grant scored to secure victory at Ibrox in September 1991, their last win there. Ironically, Fraser Fyvie, who at 16 became the youngest ever player to represent Aberdeen earlier this season, wasn't even born when his club last tasted glory in Govan.

The Reds also secured a final day victory over their rivals at Pittodrie in May 2008 to guarantee European football a result which technically ended Rangers' faint title hopes. But the Aberdeen fans are still craving a win in Glasgow to end their long, long wait.

On their last visit to Govan in May this year when Jimmy Calderwood was still in charge the Dons produced a spirited display but still couldn't take all three points from the Light Blues on their home turf. That match was also tainted when Gers striker Kyle Lafferty feigned injury following a clash with Aberdeen's Charlie Mulgrew.

Mulgrew was subsequently sent off as Lafferty winked at his team-mates before referee Stuart Dougal later reviewed his decision and the Rangers forward was heavily criticised for his behaviour.

Lafferty has now recovered from a knee injury and is in line to make his first Rangers appearance of the season against Aberdeen of all teams on Saturday and is expected to go head to head again with Mulgrew. And that latest clash is just one in a long line of recent incidents. In 2000 Fernando Ricksen launched a kung fu style kick at Darren Young at Pittodrie claiming the then Dons youngster needed to be straightened out. The Dutch midfielder was later reprimanded following trial by television in another incident which further boiled the bad blood between the clubs.

Just a year later, Phil McGuire and Neil McCann were both red carded at Ibrox following an off the ball clash. In the post match interviews Rangers midfielder Tugay claimed an unnamed Aberdeen player made comments about his recently deceased mother.

Worse was to follow in 2002 when the Aberdeen and Rangers players had to be taken off the pitch after Robbie Winters was bit by a coin at Pittodrie.

That sparked mad scenes as Dons fans raced on to the pitch to confront Rangers supporters resulting in the match being stopped for 20 minutes. There was a further Pittodrie pitch invasion in 2003 when an Aberdeen fan tried to get at Fernando Ricksen before being escorted away by the police.

To say there is bad blood between these two teams from separate coasts of Scotland would be to put it mildly. There have been calls from the likes of Keith Wyness, the former Aberdeen chief executive, for the hatred to end.

That came in the wake of the appointment of Dons legend Alex McLeish as Rangers manager. But it failed to work and the long running battle has continued to boil over. Can this latest encounter passes without any major incident?


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