Aberdeen have had plenty of injury problems this season, but one position has been rock-solid.
Goalkeeper Joe Lewis has been an ever-present for the Dons.
It rarely helps a side if they have to keep changing the man between the posts. However, opportunities often arrive during difficult times.
That’s why a teenage apprentice plumber became Aberdeen’s No. 1 for their first match played under floodlights at Pittodrie in 1959.
Bobby Russell was one of seven goalies used by the club in just over three months.
He recalled: “I was only 18 when I made my debut, and had not long joined Aberdeen from Cambuslang Rangers.
“They let me stay part-time and carry on my apprenticeship as a plumber.
“My first game came just a few days after signing, a friendly against Newcastle United.
“There was a problem with the goalkeeping position because former Scotland goalie Freddie Martin who was coming to the end of his career, had suffered a broken jaw against Dundee.
“Tubby Ogston was the man coming through to replace him, but he was doing National Service and couldn’t make it back for some weekend matches.
“That meant I played five times for Aberdeen and only one game took place on a Saturday.
“The others took place in midweek and were all against English teams.”
The young keeper’s only league match for the Dons saw them thumped 5-0 by Rangers.
Bobby said: “I wouldn’t say Aberdeen had a bad team, but there were a lot of changes happening and it was a difficult season.
“I then played against Luton Town when the Pittodrie floodlights were switched on.
“Playing under lights for the first time was an exciting experience.
“Luton Town had been in the FA Cup Final that year and a big crowd came to see them.
“We then played Arsenal at home, and my last game came in a 4-3 win over Fulham.”
Aberdeen were desperately trying to find an established keeper.
They tried 35-year-old former Reading goalie John McBride for three matches. His most recent job in football had been as coach to the Pakistan Football Association.
He was on holiday in his wife’s native Aberdeen when he volunteered to play for a month before leaving to work in Egypt.
Local lad John Yule got a chance but lost seven goals against Clyde. John Low played just once and Kilmarnock put four past him.
Chris Harker then signed from Newcastle and shared duties with Ogston for the campaign.
Bobby said: “Davie Shaw stood down as manager and was replaced by Tommy Pearson.
“He freed all the young part-time players at the end of the season.”
Bobby went back to Cambuslang Rangers but got a second crack at senior football.
He went on: “I was signed by Stenhousemuir and spent five years with them.
“Next I moved to Third Lanark. They were a famous club but things were going downhill rapidly under chairman Bill Hiddleston.
“I’d started my career under floodlights but they were turning off the lights at Cathkin because of the awful way he ran things.
“It was a real shame the club went out of business in 1967.”
Bobby, now 78, was in the last-ever Third Lanark side to play a league match.
He said: “I was then signed by Morton, where I spent two seasons sharing the goalkeeping position with Andy Crawford and Leif Nielsen.
“I played against Chelsea in the Fairs Cup but the first leg at Stamford Bridge was a bit of a disaster and we lost 5-0.
“There was also a Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts that we lost in a replay.
“I then went back to Cambuslang as a player and later had a season as manager.”
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