‘Give fans final-day showdown’ between Aberdeen and Celtic

Andy Watson has called on the league to set up the titanic clash. Picture: SNS
Andy Watson has called on the league to set up the titanic clash. Picture: SNS
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Aberdeen title-winner Andy Watson has called on the SPFL to set up a potential title decider at Parkhead on the last day of the season.

In 1980, Watson was part of the Aberdeen side which brought the Scottish title to Pittodrie for the first time in quarter of a century.

Now, 31 years since the league flag last flew outside Glasgow, Watson is hoping that Dons manager Derek McInnes can emulate Ales Ferguson’s achievement by coming from behind to pip Celtic for the title.

It could all come down to the final meeting between the clubs, which will take place after the split and has yet to be scheduled.

And Watson yesterday pleaded with the fixture planners to ensure that the massive game brings down the curtain on a Premiership season of twists and turns.

The former Rangers assistant manager believes that a last-day title decider broadcast live on television in front of a capacity crowd could be just the shot in the arm the Scottish game needs. “For me, if that game could be the climax to the season and played under the right circumstances then yes, why not?

“What a finale that would be, a winner takes all. I think it’d make great press and be exciting but whether it’s a realistic thing I don’t know.

“Anything can happen along the way, there’s points going to be won and lost so it’s still hypothetical to say it could go down to the last game with only a point between them. However, Celtic v Aberdeen would then be almost be like a cup tie and it would be great for football if you say you’ve got the top seed against the number two seed in the final, just like they do in tennis.”

Watson, now manager of Evostik Northern Premiership club Ilkeston, was speaking at a William Hill event and he is delighted that league leaders Celtic have not turned the title race into a procession 
this year.

“What’s happening in Scottish football now is good for the game,” he said.

“It’s nice that there is a pressure on Celtic at the top and I think that’s something they will relish and look to respond to. As an Aberdonian, it’s great to see my home club right in the mix and that takes me back a few years.

“We won it for the first time in 25 years during my time. We won it in 1979/80 and I came in to the side at Christmas.

“We were about six or eight points behind at that stage so I’m taking credit for it.

“I scored a few goals in the run-in. We beat Hibs at Easter Road on the second-last day to clinch it and I managed to get a goal.

“Being a local boy, it was great and it’s nice to see Aberdeen right up there again. It was exciting back then and it will be exciting for them just now.”

Although he played for Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibernian and was Alex McLeish’s assistant at Motherwell and Hibs, Watson, looking ahead to the Celtic v Rangers Scottish Cup semi-final, confesses he did not appreciate the enormity of the Old Firm experience until he faced Celtic in a League Cup semi-final in 2002.

“Being at the Old Firm changed my idea of what it was all about,” he said. “When we joined Rangers, Dick Advocaat moved upstairs and Alex and I came along because Dick couldn’t get the results in the Old Firm game and it was felt a change was needed.

“There were a number of games before that first Old Firm match. But everything was waiting for that one to see if anything had changed. Celtic had been dominating for a period of time. You go into it looking forward to it and wanting to do well. Then Bert [Konterman] scored his screamer [to give Rangers 2-1 victory].

“But they’re not in the same division and Rangers are still a work in progress. If you said to Mark Warburton: ‘You can beat Celtic and lift the Scottish Cup or win promotion’, which one would you take?’ He’d take promotion every time.”