A FUNDRAISING challenge, with the goal of visiting the site of every football ground in Ireland where Aberdeen Football Club has played, will kick off in June following a two-year postponement.
Local businessmen, full-time football fanatics and lifelong Dons fans, Bob Bain and Jock Gardiner will embark on the soccer pilgrimage this summer from 8 to 12 June, to raise funds for an AFC Heritage Trail around Aberdeen. The trail, which is being developed by AFC Heritage, will mark places of importance to the story of the Dons and Bob and Jock are raising funds for commemorative plaques with interpretation to be erected at each site and the development of a walking trail app and guide.. The locations, which cover the previous grounds of the three founder clubs of the current Aberdeen FC – Aberdeen, Orion and Victoria United – include:
- The location of the inaugural meeting of Aberdeen Association football club, held at, the then, Albert Hotel – currently a hairdresser – in Correction Wynd on 8 October 1881.
- The site of the former Recreation Grounds – around the current Palmerston Road, North Esplanade West and south-east end of Market Street where Aberdeen FC played their home games during the season 1885 to 1886.
- The Trinity Cemetery, close to Pittodrie, where the first manager of Aberdeen FC James Philip is buried.
- Central Park in Kittybrewster where AFC played their 1886 – 87 season games and nearby Cattofield Park, where Orion FC played their last game before merging with Aberdeen and Victoria United in 1903.
- Holburn Cricket Ground in Broomhill – taking in the current junction of Broomhill Road and Balmoral Place – where the first Aberdeen match was played in 1882 (with a 3-1 win against Coupar Angus) and also the site of the first penalty kick awarded to Aberdeen.
- The Chanonry Grounds, on an area which is now a private home and also the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens.
Bob Bain, who has only missed 22 home games in the last 44 years says, “This trip was planned for June 2020 following our successful fundraising trips in 2019 to visit 32 grounds which Aberdeen had played in across the UK and our first foray in 2018 to visit 18 club grounds in 18 hours. This trip will see us visit grounds and the sites of former grounds where Aberdeen FC has played and also grounds which have a link to the club such as Dundalk FC where Dons legend John Hewitt managed the team.”
Both Bob and Jock Gardiner are trustees of AFC Heritage Trust and Jock explains why embarking on this pilgrimage is important to them, “It’s really important to us to celebrate the history of the club – and of football – in order to ensure an important part of the city’s sporting history is not forgotten. The AFC Heritage Trail plaques will mark the places of historical interest and keep the spirit of the club alive across the city and not just at the current ground. We previously raised over £14,000 from our 2018 and 2019 tours so we hope to top this with donations as a result of our Irish challenge.”
Donations towards the Heritage Trail can be made through the challenge fundraising page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/afcht-tourofireland. More about the history of AFC can be found at www.afcheritage.org and the heritage trail locations can be found at https://www.afcheritage.org/heritagetrail/.