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Ally Begg: Is Rooney the best Aberdeen striker since Shearer?

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On Saturday afternoon at Pittodrie Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney will make his 100th appearance for the club against St Johnstone in the league.

Since he signed from Oldham Athletic back in January 2014 the Republic of Ireland international has netted 56 goals for the club, a superb return I’m sure you’ll agree.

So with this in mind is Adam Aberdeen’s best striker since Duncan Shearer?

Dolly LogoShearer is an Aberdeen legend, from 187 games played he scored 76 goals but his all-round general play endeared him to many a Dandie. Shearer played his last game for the Dons way back in May 1997 when he made a substitute’s appearance in a 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock.

In the proceeding 20 years many a player had enjoyed the privilege of wearing the number 9 or 10 shirt for the Dons but quite sadly in the eyes of this columnist only three players can be classed as real quality, Eoin Jess, Arild Stavrum and more recently Niall McGinn.

You could argue Jess was a more attack minded midfielder but when pushed a little further up the park he was as good as they come. Stavrum proved to be a real hit with the Dons faithful yet given more time at the club he could have gone on to be a true legend, alas with only 66 appearances under his belt we will never know.

Since joining the Dons after his contract with Celtic expired Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn has been a revelation. In his first season Niall scored 21 goals which is the first time a player has scored more than 20 goals for Aberdeen since Billy Dodds 20 years previously. Currently McGinn has been deployed more as a winger who loves to drift inside which I believe has benefited Derek McInnes’s style of play.

Let’s also not forget that he recently became only the 35th Aberdeen player to score 50 or more goals for the Dons.

Before that fine achievement the player to reach that milestone was Adam Rooney who brought up his half century after netting against Kilmarnock just before Christmas.

Rooney signed for the Dons in January 2014 and made an immediate impact scoring on his debut against Motherwell. Since then he has been a mainstay in the side, occasionally dropping down to the bench for tactical reasons.

Like Shearer, Rooney has a physical presence about him. He is able to hold off his immediate opponent while bringing team-mates into play, muscle his way around the 18-yard box and make his opponent appreciate he is in for a long 90 minutes. His natural instinct inside the 18 yard box is as good as I’ve seen since the days of Shearer and Dodds. Shearer had it all, presence, an eye for goal hence his nickname “Deadly Dunc” and vision. He was a constant thorn in any defenders side but more importantly, he gelled with all those who played alongside him almost effortlessly: Dodds, Scott Booth and Jess.

Aberdeen sides of the past have been filled with great strikers: Joe Harper, Stevie Archibald, Drew Jarvie, Eric Black, Mark McGhee, Hans Gillhaus, Charlie Nicholas and of course Shearer all of whom won trophies and medals of some description.

All these players played in sides which were capable of winning any game, they all had goals in them yet you could argue the baron spell that Aberdeen endured for 20 years was down to the fact that upfront Aberdeen lacked real quality.

I mean no disrespect to those who donned the red shirt during this time but I find it almost impossible to mention them in the same breath as those I have just listed.

Rooney though is different gravy and the type of forward that we, the long suffering Aberdeen fans, have been crying out for since the late 90’s!

Having already written himself into the Aberdeen history books after netting the winning penalty against Inverness Caley Thistle in the 2014 League Cup Final, Rooney already has a special place in the hearts of all Dons fans but for him to become a true club legend the goals need to keep flowing and the performance rate to remain consistent.

With Niall McGinn doing what he does down the flank and Jonny Hayes tormenting defenders down the opposite Rooney should not be short of service or two going forward. I for one hope a century of goals will soon match his 100 appearances.

Ally Begg’s column is sponsored by Dolly Digital, a freelance Graphic and New Media Design Studio based in Aberdeen. Check out their Aberdeen FC-related products now.

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