A Gothenburg Great and A Truly Awful but Much-loved Football Song

As I had a birthday this week, and I am a full two and a half years older than I was when I first picked up this blogging mantle, I’m going to set myself the challenge of posting every day for a week. I know there are quite a few daily bloggers in my little circle, and I am full of admiration for what they do, but in my case it’ll just be a little experiment. Not expecting regular visitors to leave comments, and these are going to have to be much shorter posts than usual, but I have a bit of a backlog of ideas building up so here’s a chance to play catch up.

First of all, I am truly amazed that I have not yet written a tribute this year for anyone whom we’ve lost from the world of music. In January 2016, the month I first started blogging, I’d written three in my first 10 days. We’ve lost a few high profile comedians/all-round entertainers in 2018 and a few from the world of music who have meant a lot to others, but not necessarily to me. Last week however we lost someone from the world of sport who will not be known to many of you who visit this place, but who is partly responsible for one of the worst songs ever to find their way into my record collection. If this blog’s tagline is A Nostalgic Journey Through the Tracks of My Years, then this one has to be in there.


Back in May 1983, Aberdeen FC won the European Cup Winners Cup and so began one of the best weeks of my life. My dad had been a life-long fan of the team, as was the boyfriend-of-the-time (the BOTT), so inevitably I got caught up in all the excitement that befalls your city when the local team is riding high. Sir Alex Ferguson worked his magic at Manchester United, as we all know, but I think some people forget he cut his teeth at Aberdeen.

One of the Gothenburg Greats, as they came to be known, was a young player called Neale Cooper and being a bit shallow at that age, we girls kind of all fell for his blonde hair and good looks. A couple of years down the line however I got to know his sister and she became part of our social circle – We in turn got to know Neale the man, as opposed to Neale the football player. He was a comedian and entertainer of the highest order and his impressions of Sir Alex were legendary. By a strange coincidence, not long after I left Aberdeen to move to the Highlands, Neale also moved north to take up football management so our paths crossed again. His kids, when they came along, were all around the same age as my daughter so their paths also crossed. It came as a massive shock last week to hear that he had died suddenly at the incredibly young age of 54. I know how close he was to his family, so know they will be bereft, but I really don’t think I’d realised just how well-loved he was by so many. The tributes have been flooding in from the world of football and from his many friends – The youngest of the Gothenburg Greats and sadly the first to leave us.


But of course this is a music blog and the song that was very hastily put together for release ahead of the big final was this one – Simply called the European Song. Having just looked it up, it seems Neale wasn’t one of the players who turned singer for a day on the record, but the current Scotland manager Alex McLeish was, along with Willie Miller, Gordon Strachan, Eric Black, John Hewitt, Jim Leighton and Mark McGhee – All players who have gone on to great things in the world of football.

It truly is an awful song but as the lyrics said, “We’re gonna do it for you”, and they did, with bells on. There was gridlock on Union Street (the city’s main thoroughfare) that night, as everyone felt the need to come out and celebrate. In those pre-mobile phone days I lost track of the BOTT, but he emerged a day later on the cover of the Aberdeen Press and Journal, having scaled one of the city’s many statues, scarf in hand. When the team arrived back with the cup, we headed down to Pittodrie Stadium to greet them, and of course there was the obligatory tour of the city in an open top bus. A party was held in a local hostelry where we all had to wear red and white, and of course listen to the European Song, on repeat – Argh…, painful on the ears, but happy times indeed.

There was a reunion on the 11th May of all the Gothenburg Greats to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their big win. Neale had apparently been on good form that night but sadly, only two weeks later, there was one less Northern Light in Old Aberdeen.


RIP Neale Cooper

European Song Lyrics
(Song by Harry Barry)

We are the Dons from Aberdeen
And we’re the finest that’s ever been
And we’re gonna do it for you
And we’re gonna do it for you

McLeish and Miller and Strachan too
They’ll lead us forward and take us through
And we’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it for you!

We’ve taken our team into Europe
Yes we have, Ooooh yes we have
All the way every night and day,
Singing a European song
Ooooh all the way every night and day,
Singing a European song

We can sing, and we can play
And Alex Ferguson, he knows the way
And we’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it
We’re gonna do it for you!

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

23 thoughts on “A Gothenburg Great and A Truly Awful but Much-loved Football Song”

    1. Thanks very much – I had a nice day. As for catching up with the posts, don’t fret about it, as I know time is limited. Going to set myself a little challenge this week but fell at the first hurdle last year so not sure if I’ll be able to last the distance.


  1. A fine post on a great time for Aberdeen Football Club when they defeated the mighty Real Madrid and the sadness which all football fans now feel over the passing of Neale Cooper.
    Despite being a Celtic fan, I saw most of my football matches at Pittodrie over 4 decades, and enjoyed the wonders Fergie worked with Aberdeen. A few years back I was lucky to see him talk about his life and career and he paid tribute to the great Celtic manager Jock Stein who actually accompanied Fergie and the team to Gothenburg for the final, (Stein was manager of Celtic when they became the first British team to win the European Cup). According to Fergie, Stein gave him tips about psyching out the Real Madrid manager of the time (the legendary Alfredo Di Stéfano) and also gave a pep talk to the team just before the game kicked off. As for Neale Cooper, he was a real character who loved the game and, in return, was much loved by Aberdeen fans.
    It was a magic time for Dons fans and Neale Cooper played his part as a tireless midfield dynamo. He was the real thing, gone too soon and will be sorely missed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I suspected you might be the only visitor to this post as not many others will have heard of Neale but I’m still reeling from this shock news – I know how devastated his family are but don’t think I’d realised just what an impact he’d made on so many people.

      That was a magical time in Aberdeen and a week I will never forget but thanks for the extra info about Jock Stein – What with Sir Alex and Jock both in the Aberdeen camp, the opposition didn’t stand a chance – Also of course the relentless rain on the night wouldn’t have gone down well with the Spanish team!


    1. Thanks CC – I had a lovely day and the Fitbit on my wrist, given to me as a present from DD, means I won’t be able to sit at the computer for quite so many hours in a day – Got to keep those steps up!

      He was a lovely man, who grabbed life with both hands – Sadly life let go of him last week. The tributes from the fans have been phenomenal.


      1. For a list person (like I know you are) a Fitbit is probably both great and frustrating.
        I briefly used a pedometer to record my steps and started wee lists faithfully recording the numbers.
        Thankfully it finally broke and I was liberated!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You are right and why I resisted getting one myself – DD is a thoughtful soul however and gave it to me with the best intentions. We’ll see how I get on with it.


  2. Ah a very happy birthday to you! And a lovely tribute to Neale, who sounds like he was a good character to know, and so awful that he should die so young.
    A post a day for a week – wow – a great challenge to set yourself and I’ve no doubt you’ll do a grand job of it. See you here tomorrow, then!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – The birthday was yesterday but I had a lovely day and foolishly have set myself this challenge! I have a feeling it will always be near midnight before I press the publish button and they’re not going to be heavily researched posts as I won’t have the time – Will be shooting from the hip.

      As for Neale, you didn’t have to be a fan of football to find him entertaining company – He’d led a colourful life but sadly left us far too soon, like so many others.


  3. Happy Birthday, Alyson! Yes, the song is novelty schlock but your story is great and being a soccer (sorry, football) fan I know a lot of the people you mention (esp. of course Sir Alex) but not Neale Cooper. But a very sad loss, certainly at that age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rick – Yes I’d forgotten, but you are a fan of soccer/football and our Premiership. Sir Alex spent quite a few years in Aberdeen and after winning just about every cup possible moved south to Man U – Sadly he took most of Aberdeen’s best players with him!

      Very sad about Neale – His son plays for a team in the US called Fresno FC if that means anything to you. He is on loan from our local team.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Needless to say, I hadn’t heard of Neale before reading your lovely memorial to him and Aberdeen’s 1983 victory, but it sounds as if he was a well respected man. Once upon a time 54 seemed positively ancient, but now, from this end of the telescope, it really is no age at all. Terribly tragic for his family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had just sent a letter to his sister so when it came to writing this first post in the series it was obvious that I should write about him. The football song was a truly awful one but such a great time for the city. Devastating for his family and you are right, all of a sudden 54 seems like no age at all.


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