League Cup semi-final evokes Morton memories from 1979

Aberdeen beat Morton 2-1 in the 1979 League Cup semi-final
Aberdeen's Steve Archibald holds off Neil Orr at Hampden in the 1979 semi-final
Scottish League Cup semi-final: Rangers v Celtic
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Saturday, 22 October Kick-off: 12:15 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app; live text on BBC Sport website

Morton take on Aberdeen in a League Cup semi-final at Hampden, 37 years after their last semi in the competition, also against the Dons at the national stadium.

BBC Scotland spoke to the Morton manager and their star player from that 1979-80 season, and to a fan who was at the match.

The manager: Benny Rooney

Manager Benny Rooney with star player Andy Ritchie
Rooney with star player Andy Ritchie (right)

I went to Morton as player-manager in 1976. I was 33 but only played half a dozen games. I decided there was so much needing done that I'd stick to being the manager and we went on a good run. We got promoted to the Premier Division and were top of the table for a while, above Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers and Dundee United.

I can remember the main team we'd generally put out: Baines in goal; Hayes and Holmes; Rooney, McLaughlin and Orr; McNeil, Brown, Russell, Ritchie and Thomson.

Bobby Thomson was a terrific player. We sold him for about £100,000. Neil Orr was from Greenock, he went down to West Ham for £350,000. I was ready for packing it in when the chairman Hal Stewart told me were selling Bobby but when I heard the amount I agreed we just couldn't turn that money down.

We trained Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights and reported on the Saturday.

We had the hoodoo over Aberdeen at the time. Alex Ferguson was the manager and they had guys like Willie Miller and Alex McLeish. They would come to us on a good run and we'd beat them. Usually after the game you went into the boardroom and had a drink together. After he kept losing at Cappielow he gave up and just went on to the bus! He gave up, he was a bad loser. Aberdeen would go to different hotels before the game just to try to break the hoodoo.

However, that day at Hampden in the League Cup they got the better of us. We were 2-0 down before we got going.

I'm hoping we can put on a good show on Saturday. We can defend well and Jim Duffy will have them organised. If we can hit them on the break you just never know.

The player: Andy Ritchie

Andy Ritchie against Aberdeen at Cappielow
Morton enjoyed a great record against Aberdeen in the late 1970s

I went to Morton in '76 and somebody told me I scored 146 goals in six seasons there.

We had a lot of good pros down in Greenock.

We froze that day in 1979. I don't know why, because we had a good side. We were very confident even although we were a part-time club taking on a full-time team. None of us had ever been to Hampden before on semi-final or final duty.

We never played for an hour. For the last half hour, we hit the crossbar, John McNeil headed over the bar, we hit the post and I scored.

I maintained if we'd got the 2-2 draw we'd have beaten Aberdeen in the replay and beaten Dundee United in the final.

We had good success against Aberdeen. They were a very good side. I enjoyed playing against them but Fergie didn't enjoy it!

I'll be there on Saturday and I'm really looking forward to it. Morton have got a chance. If Aberdeen play as well as they can, they will win the game. If Morton turn up and play as well as they can and Aberdeen don't, then we'll have a game on our hands.

Jim Duffy has got a young team. We were much more experienced. They can play without any fear and not leave anything out there.

The fan: Andrew Darroch

I was 11 in 1979 when we last played Aberdeen in a League Cup semi and it's amazing to think I've had to wait until I'm 48 to see my team at a major game at Hampden again. My dad took me to the game and the lovely thing is that on Saturday I'll be taking my own sons, one of whom, Adam, is now 11.

We were in the old family section of Hampden, a sunken terracing, and I distinctly remember my eye level being the same height as the pitch. It was a right cold day. The Morton and Aberdeen strips looked amazing under the floodlights.

Andrew Darroch prepares for the trip to Hampden with his son Adam, a Morton Under-12s player, who is holding the scarf his dad wore to the semi-final in 1979
Andrew and Adam, a Morton Under-12s player, will be at Hampden on Saturday

I was spoiled as a kid going to see that Morton team - Andy Ritchie was my favourite, but there were great players throughout the team - John McNeil, Neil Orr, Bobby Thomson... I read that although we lost to Aberdeen we went top of the league that day on goal difference because Celtic lost to St Mirren. Imagine - a part-time team being top of the league for six Saturdays halfway through the season.

Aberdeen were two goals up from Mark McGhee and Gordon Strachan but Ritchie hit the post and then scored a penalty with about 10 minutes to go. Neil Orr had a screamer of a goal ruled out too. We had beaten Aberdeen at Cappielow and Pittodrie before that game and then again after they got to the cup final.

I really think we've got a chance on Saturday. Shocks have happened in the past and I think one can happen for us.

Aberdeen will be wary because we beat the league leaders Queen of the South 5-0 away last weekend. Jai Quitongo has got pace to trouble them.

Airdrie have been to a cup final, Queen of the South too; other provincial teams. My brothers and I have always wondered when it would be Morton's turn. Now we're at Hampden and I can't wait to walk up to the ground with my sons.

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