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Bottle lines are drawn as Aberdeen bid to end 19-year trophy famine

EVERYBODY tells me now that Aberdeen's 1995 Coca-Cola Cup- winning side which I was a part of was a good team, but I don't think we really believed in ourselves until we won that trophy.

Billy Dodds is on the end of some good-natured ribbing from Duncan Shearer and Stewart McKimmie after Aberdeen won the League Cup in 1995 Photograph: SNS
Billy Dodds is on the end of some good-natured ribbing from Duncan Shearer and Stewart McKimmie after Aberdeen won the League Cup in 1995 Photograph: SNS

We probably were a good side. We just didn't realise it.

That was the last Aberdeen outfit to win a major trophy and I can see similarities with the team which will hope to emulate that feat against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the League Cup final today.

With a 40,000-plus support watching them at Celtic Park, all the pressure will be on them, the same way it was heaped on us because we had beaten Rangers in the semi-final, so we couldn't then let Dundee beat us in the big one.

In the end it wasn't a great final, but we had to cope with the strain and we handled it well, with myself and Duncan Shearer, now a coach at Inverness Caley Thistle, scoring the goals.

The same question, though, relates to Aberdeen today: do they have the mentality to handle the hard times, and dig out scrappy 1-0 wins when things aren't going well?

Last year I would have put a major question mark against them. But they have proven that they are made of different stuff this season by getting to the final, and making it out of sticky situations, against Alloa on penalties, and even Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup last week.

I would never totally write off Inverness, even though they have had a torrid time in the last couple of games. But can Aberdeen handle it? I think they can.

It is no surprise to me that Aberdeen have sold so many tickets for this game. In fact, there will probably be around 50,000 by kick-off time, with fans buying up corporate seats. I have said it for years, that whenever they string three, four, five wins together, there are thousands more on the gate. Aberdeen fans have craved success for too long.

The fans are realistic - all they wanted was to finish high up the league and be competitive in cup competitions, but that hasn't been happening. They have been tortured over the years, but all it takes is putting together a decent cup run and a good league run and they start turning up in droves.

I don't really remember too much about the celebrations in 1995, but we were a quiet bunch. Roy Aitken was the manager, but Willie Miller deserves a lot of the credit because he changed the mentality of the club.

Boys who lived there like Eoin Jess, Scott Booth, Brian Grant and Brian Irvine were quiet lads, but Willie signed more outgoing guys like Peter Hetherston, myself and John Inglis and I thought we helped bring a togetherness to the club.

I had been brought up at Partick Thistle alongside all these hardy boys who were good professionals but also liked a pint, and I thought there was a bit of a soft side at Aberdeen. Maybe we were a bit too nice. Sometimes you need that steely, nasty side.

I got stick when I first moved there because I didn't hit the ground running, and only scored 12 goals in my first season, but I kept at it and won them over.

They stuck with me because I worked my backside off and that is the kind of mentality boys like Barry Robson and Willo Flood have brought to this team. They don't care if they get slaughtered for not having a good game. They will demand performances from others.

I also played in Aberdeen's last major final appearance - the 2000 Scottish Cup final - for the opposition. I scored for Rangers as we beat my former side 4-0, a game which saw Jim Leighton injured early and Robbie Winters having to take over in goal. We didn't play well, and it was just circumstances which let Aberdeen down.

As for today, it is frankly a mismatch in terms of support and a mismatch in terms of confidence. Having said that, though, I think it will be tighter than most people imagine. It really would be fairy tale stuff if Inverness could win it, but I am going to go for Aberdeen 2-1.

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