For more than a century, professional football has played an important role in modern society.
So passionate are some fans of the game, their allegiance to a chosen football club can evoke the same level of loyalty and fervour that might normally only be reserved for religion or politics. And at the heart of this tribal pursuit there is a gathering place, a place that stands in loyal support of its club long after managers and players have moved on- the football stadium.
For generations of fans of Aberdeen Football Club, Pittodrie Stadium has been their gathering place since 1903. Built in 1899, Pittodrie stands only five hundred metres from the North Sea, making it one of the coldest stadiums in Great Britain and a testament to the heartiness of its tenants. Like many modern-day stadiums, this one has seen a lot of change over the years.
Once only able to hold around eight thousand supporters, multiple expansions have made Pittodrie the fifth largest stadium in Scotland with a capacity of more than twenty-two thousand seats.
It is credited with being the UK’s first major stadium to become all-seated, and also with introducing the now-commonplace dugout. Though the years have brought elation and heartache in equal measure, the memory that still echoes the loudest from Pittodrie’s cantilevered rooftop is the 1983 victory over FC Bayern Munich, which ultimately saw Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen squad win the coveted European Cup.
Football stadiums are a kind of hallowed ground – a place where thousands of strangers pass through a gate each week and instantly become part of a family.
For Aberdeen Football Club, a repeat of last year’s successful season might bring a long-anticipated move to a new stadium. But for most, Pittodrie will always be regarded as this family’s spiritual home.