Winning Scottish Cup with Motherwell bigger than Euro triumph at Aberdeen insists Ian Angus

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Ian Angus was part of Aberdeen’s victorious European Cup Winners’ Cup squad and played a key role in their 1985 title triumph.

But the former midfielder insists his Scottish Cup success with Motherwell eclipses both of those achievements with the Dons.

Angus feared his chance of getting his hands on the famous trophy had gone after missing out on FOUR final appearances during his seven years at Pittodrie.

The 56-year-old was then a beaten semi-finalist with Dundee, who he joined after leaving the Reds, but finally lifted the Scottish Cup in the claret and amber of the Steelmen.

It’s one of the most celebrated games in the tournament and boosted the north Lanarkshire town in a town struggling to accept the impending closure of the Ravenscraig steelworks.

Well manager Tommy McLean with the Scottish Cup

A sweet 65th minute strike from Angus put Tommy McLean’s men 3-1 up against Dundee United 27 years ago and looked to be the goal that would clinch glory.

But nobody could have predicted the drama that would follow with John O’Neil and Darren Jackson scoring for the Tangerines to force extra time before Steve Kirk’s famous winner.

Angus is hoping his old club can win the trophy again for the first time since that epic final when they face double treble chasing Celtic at Hampden.

An unsung hero throughout his career, Angus was handed his first professional contract by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.

He was on the bench on the Gothenburg Glory night when the Reds defeated the mighty Real Madrid and two years later won the title – the last non-Old Firm side to be crowned champions of Scotland.

Kirk’s winning goal in the 1991 final is the stuff of Motherwell legend

Angus said: “I have three winners’ medals in my house but the 1991 Scottish Cup final is THE big one for me.

“The European Cup Winners’ Cup was a great experience but it came during a season when I didn’t play a lot so you don’t feel part of it.

“I played 40 minutes in the entire run in the away leg of the semi-final tie against Waterschei. The tie was over after a 5-1 win in the home leg when Dougie Bell tore them to shreds.

“I came on just after half-time for Neil Simpson in the return in Belgium. I still got a medal because I was stripped.

“Amazingly, it doesn’t rank very highly for me. I didn’t feel I contributed but when we won the league in 1985 I played the majority of it and we won the league – the last team outwith the Old Firm to win it.

A youthful looking Alex Ferguson shows off the European Cup Winners’ Cup to hordes of adoring Aberdeen fans

“But Aberdeen at the time were very successful and won the league three times, the Scottish Cup four times, a couple of League Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup.

“They were a dominant team but Motherwell were a provincial club and winning the Scottish Cup was massive for them and the town with the Ravenscraig situation.

“It gave the town a lift. The place was buzzing when everyone was quite down. For a couple of hours that day we cheered people up.

“I missed out on four Scottish Cup finals at Aberdeen. I missed the 1986 final because I’d broken my collarbone and the other three I just wasn’t selected.

“I left Aberdeen thinking my chance of playing in a final had gone, although I was close a couple of times at Dundee.

“We lost a semi-final to Dundee United at Tynecastle in 1987 when they went on to lose the final to St Mirren so it was great to finally get there with Motherwell.”

Angus was given his first professional contract at Aberdeen

By his own admission, Angus was the quiet man in the teams he played in which he reckons could be down to breaking into a Dons team packed with international stars while he was a teenager.

Due to his modest nature he might not want to talk up his cup final goal but it was a scorching strike beyond a helpless Alan Main.

He said: “Luc Nijholt was in the right back area and played a ball to the edge of the box and Steve Kirk says he laid it off perfectly. I say he miscontrolled it and I dug him out a hole!

“It just seemed to land fine and it was a decent strike. I was outside the box and it was a sweet hit and it hit the back of the net.

“It was probably the best moment of my career. The Scottish Cup final is a great game to play in. It’s the last game of the season and everyone remembers it.

“When you’re two goals ahead in a game the next goal is always crucial. If we got it the game would have been dead but they got it two minutes later and it was game on again.

“The number of times teams concede a goal almost immediately after scoring is incredible and Ally Maxwell got injured which didn’t help and he was struggling for a long period in the game.

The late, great Davie Cooper holds the Scottish Cup aloft

“The manager was in two minds whether to put Steve Kirk in goal as he had done many times before or allow Maxy to soldier on which he did and fortunately Kirky came up with the winner at the end.

“It was a great occasion but it’s not until you’re finished that you realise how special the game was and to get seven goals in a final is fantastic for neutrals.

“I was selected for a drug test after the game and it took me a while. Dave Bowman from Dundee United was in and out within 20 minutes but I was still there an hour later.

“They gave me beer, water and tea but it didn’t make much difference. I eventually got there but I missed the team bus back to Motherwell and didn’t catch up with the guys until 8pm.

“The journalist Graham Clark brought me back and we went via Victoria Hospital where Ally Maxwell was so he had a quick word with him and then we went to Fir Park.”

Memories of being part of that Well squad are tinged with sadness at the loss of four players from that era – Davie Cooper, Phil O’Donnell, Jamie Dolan and Paul McGrillen.

Motherwell’s 1991 Scottish Cup winning side was full of talent

He said: “Unfortunately we’ve lost four guys from that squad far too early. You think back to that game and what a great day it was but you’ve always got a thought for the four guys not with us.

“I’m a fairly quiet guy – not a Stevie Kirk or Colin O’Neill. I left the shouting to them and just went about my business.

“I was probably too quiet and maybe it stemmed from coming through as a youngster at Aberdeen with big international players like Jim Leighton, Alex McLeish, Willie Miller and Gordon Strachan.

“They were all very experienced guys. It was the same at Motherwell with Davie Cooper, Craig Paterson, Iain Ferguson and Bobby Russell.

“Tom Boyd was a fairly young guy but emerging as a top class full back and Phil O’Donnell was the baby of the team.

“I hope Motherwell can lift the trophy again. Celtic are the best team but Motherwell’s strength is their physicality and if they can bully them then they’ve got a chance.

“Motherwell dominated Rangers and Aberdeen in their two semi-finals this season so if they can start the game right and not concede early then they’ve got a chance.”

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