Van der Ark: Dons can win cup like we did

Dutch­man re­calls de­feat to Hearts led to sil­ver glory

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY CAL­LUM LAW

DONS cult hero Willem van der Ark says re­sults be­fore a cup fi­nal don’t mat­ter. Aberdeen face Celtic at Ham­p­den in the League Cup fi­nal on Sun­day after the dis­ap­point­ment of Satur­day’s 3-0 loss to Mother­well. The Reds were se­cond best at Fir Park last week­end and were de­servedly beaten by the Steel­men. But Dutch striker van der Ark in­sists the re­sults ahead of a fi­nal are of lit­tle im­por­tance. The 55-year-old joined Alex Smith and Jocky Scott’s Dons in 1989 from Willem II in Hol­land and helped Aberdeen win the League Cup in Oc­to­ber of that year. Van der Ark played a key role in the 2-1 fi­nal vic­tory over Rangers after com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute. Paul Ma­son net­ted a fa­mous dou­ble with the win­ner com­ing in the first half of ex­tra-time after van der Ark flicked on David Robert­son’s long throw-in to Char­lie Ni­cholas who laid the ball off for Ma­son to fin­ish. The week be­fore that fi­nal the Reds suf­fered dis­ap­point­ment as they lost 3-1 to Hearts at Pit­to­drie, with van der Ark scor­ing. The for­mer Cam­buur, Utrecht and Den Haag striker, who left Aberdeen in 1991 and now works as an es­tate agent in Leeuwar­den, Hol­land, says de­feat to the Jam­bos be­fore lift­ing the cup in 1989 shows re­sults ahead of cup fi­nals can be mis­lead­ing. Van der Ark said: “If you play a bad game be­fore the fi­nal it doesn’t have any im­pact. “Aberdeen lost at the week­end to Mother­well but it won’t af­fect the cup fi­nal. “We lost to Hearts and I scored but I can’t even re­mem­ber it. “So it just shows you we lost as well be­fore the fi­nal and it doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence. “In the build-up to a cup fi­nal it is a one-off and ev­ery­one fo­cuses and raises their game in a way. “Aberdeen have the full week to pre­pare so all the noses will go in the right direc­tion and they will be ready.” Although the Dons team of 1989 con­tained le­gends Wil­lie Miller, Alex McLeish, Ste­wart McKim­mie, Jim Bett and Theo Snelders, van der Ark says they were un­der­dogs against Graeme Souness’ Rangers side. That Gers side had Ally McCoist, Mo John­ston, Richard Gough, Terry Butcher and Mark Wal­ters in the ranks. But the Reds man­aged to get the bet­ter of it and lift the cup. And van der Ark reck­ons Derek McInnes’ men can do the same on Sun­day against Bren­dan Rodgers’ Celtic. He added: “I think Aberdeen have a de­cent chance. When we played Rangers, yes we had a good side. “But like Celtic now, Rangers were the favourites with all the big stars in their team at that time. “For some peo­ple it was a sur­prise we won and I give Aberdeen a chance on Sun­day. “Celtic are favourites and that is be­cause of the re­sults over the last few years and Celtic have been do­ing bet­ter than any­one else in the last cou­ple of years. “But in a cup fi­nal you al­ways have a good chance whether you are favourites or un­der­dogs. I think be­ing un­der­dogs suits Aberdeen in some ways.” In 1989 Ma­son was the hero for Aberdeen and van der Ark would love to see one of the cur­rent Dons strik­ers make the dif­fer­ence on Sun­day. He says it doesn’t mat­ter who hits the net as long as the Reds re­turn to the Gran­ite City with the tro­phy. Van der Ark said: “I think one goal is enough for Aberdeen be­cause they can keep Celtic out. “Peo­ple look for­ward to it and ev­ery­one gets ex­cited and ev­ery­one around the city wants the re­sult. “It’s time again for them to win a cup after a few years and I am hope­ful.”

Mother­well’s David Turn­bull, left, made it 3-0 against Aberdeen

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