Paul Mason urges Derek McInnes to turn Aberdeen's clock back

Paul Mason believes the '¨current Aberdeen side can take a significant step towards emulating the Scottish Cup success his one enjoyed 27 years ago if they end their long-running Ibrox jinx first.

Paul Mason and Dale Gordon battle it out at Ibrox in 1993. Picture: SNS.
Paul Mason and Dale Gordon battle it out at Ibrox in 1993. Picture: SNS.

The attacking midfielder was an influential figure when the Dons achieved the cup double under Alex Smith and Jocky Scott, playing in the Scottish Cup Final defeat of Celtic after scoring both goals in their League Cup final victory against Rangers.

That was in season 1989/90 when Mason was part of a star-studded team that made a habit of beating the Old Firm in Glasgow, and the contrast with nowadays could not be more stark.

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Aberdeen have not taken a single point in their last 24 league visits to Parkhead while they travel to Ibrox tomorrow looking for their first league win there in 40 attempts, dating back to 1991.

Amazingly, Mason was in the Dons team that day when goals from Eoin Jess and Brian Grant secured a 2-0 win and is convinced Derek McInnes’ side will dramatically boost their chances of success at Hampden Park if they turn back the clock at Ibrox first.

“Over the years we went down there regularly and got a result. We weren’t scared of them” said Mason.

“In my day, we were very fit and we had a team full of international players, except for myself. We had 10 international players in that team, so it was a very strong squad. But it is surprising that the current team has gone so long without league victories at Ibrox and 
Parkhead.

“Someone told me they haven’t won in the league at Ibrox in the last 39 attempts, going all the way back to 1991. I actually played in that game, so it’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since their last win down there.

“There is no time like the present to fix that, though, as they are playing Rangers on Wednesday. They’ve already beaten them to second place in the league and it would be the ideal time to beat them down there.

“It would also be the perfect boost for when they go back down to Glasgow for the cup final. It’s been 27 years since we won the Scottish Cup which is too long, so, hopefully, we do win the game.”

Mason knows the only one downside to upsetting the odds against Celtic is that it will simply intensify the chances of another club luring McInnes away from Pittodrie.

As someone who went on to play for Ipswich Town in the English Premier League after leaving Aberdeen, he is certain the club’s current manager would be a success south of the border.

Mason ran a guest house in Southport after finally hanging up his boots but the 53-year-old now has a part-time job in a brewery which leaves ample time to observe what’s happening at Aberdeen.

What’s really impressed him is the quality of player McInnes has brought in for less than the £400,000 they paid Dutch club Groningen for him back in 1988.

By contrast, the £250,000 Kenny McLean cost from St Mirren is the only transfer fee McInnes has paid in his four years at Aberdeen and Mason added:“I have been very impressed by Derek McInnes. He has done an amazing job. He has spent hardly any money, so he is obviously a good motivator able to get the most out of the players. It’s unbelievable the job that he’s done with the money he’s spent. He has a good eye for a player and a good scouting system, so you’ve got to take your hat off to him. Clubs in England will recognise what he has done.

“They will already be taking note, which wouldn’t be good for Aberdeen. If he wins the cup, there will be even more people looking at him. There are always people looking for a good manager to improve their club.”

Mason may have been the hero in the League Cup Final but he had been substituted and missed the dramatic 9-8 penalty shoot-out win against Celtic, with Brian Irvine scoring the decisive spot-kick.

He said: “Obviously, the first five had taken theirs and then the other players were getting further and further back. Brian Irvine was nearly in the goalmouth at the opposite end.

“He didn’t want to take one at all but he tucked it away quite well. It would be great if someone in the Aberdeen team was to make a name for themselves in the final against Celtic.

“Winning the cup is the most important thing, whether that comes down to one player becoming a hero or a full team of heroes.

“It would be great if someone in the Aberdeen team was to make a name for themselves in the final against Celtic. Winning the cup is the most important thing, whether that comes down to one player becoming a hero or a full team of heroes.”

l Paul Mason was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.