Interview with Red Ultras (Aberdeen - Scotland)

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 Ultras-Tifo: Hi Stephen please introduce yourself:
Hi my name is Stephen and I started the group back in 99 and run it to this day.

UT: Tell us a bit of the history of the Red Ultras.
Stephen: The 'Red Ultras' were formed in 1999 with the majority of members coming from the ‘Westhill Reds’ supporters club. Many of the founding members drew their inspiration from the colourful supports of other countries witnessed on Scotland or Aberdeen European trips. Aiming to bring more atmosphere and colour to Aberdeen the Red Ultras were soon to become the pace-setters of supporters groups in Britain.

The group quickly approached AFC and were given the go-ahead to do their best at Pittodrie. The original ‘Red Ultras’ banner was made and still appears regularly at home and away games across Scotland. The group faced a hard task in having any impact as very tight and restraining control by police and stewards at many grounds meant even on some occasions the main banner could not be displayed. In the 2000 season the ‘Red Ultras’ banner was confiscated twice at Hampden by Strathclyde police and the group had a difficult time in displaying the banner at many other games where stewards and police took a very dim view of the Ultras. Through the perseverance of key members and the helpful attitude of AFC however the group thrived and soon began to expand as more and more members joined and more displays were carried out home and away.

The Dons made their way back into Europe in 2002 and the Red Ultras were there to follow as the draw revealed a tough tie against Hertha Berlin. Keen to seize the opportunity many Ultras followed to Germany and this resulted in arguably one of the group’s best displays as a number of banners were brought across and a number of flares set off amongst the colourful and loud Aberdeen support to greet the players. The Dons lost the tie but a good time was had by all in Berlin and the Ultras began to establish a re****tion that was only to grow as time went on.

The group began to thrive and grow as the seasons went on and by the Don’s centenary year of 2003 the group was at the forefront of all exciting supporter’s groups in Britain. A tremendous streamer display at Tynecastle on the opening day was followed as Aberdeen marked their centenary year with a special parade and fun day at Pittodrie. The Ultras were out in force at the parade with a number of flags and banners and also performed one of the first major displays in the Richard Donald Stand which was to go on to become the home of the Ultras at Pittodrie. The group was located in Section Y of Pittodrie and as well as carrying out a brilliant streamer display also had banners and flags on show at almost every home game.

The ‘Red Army’ banner was soon created, the length of the Richard Donald Stand and designed to lie between the two tiers it is the largest permanent flag in Britain and appears at the majority of the home games at Pittodrie. Thanks to donations from the supportive Aberdeen support and a huge effort from members the Red Army 12 shirt was made in the 2003/2004 season and made it’s first appearance home against Dundee United. One of the largest football flags in Britain it soon became a key part of many displays and has made many appearances in the RDS.

In 2004 the Ultras movement at Aberdeen really began to take off as new manager Jimmy Calderwood took over and the opening day of the season was marked by the best display to date in front of a very loud and colourful home support. The Dons made an excellent start to the season as draws home against rangers and then away against Hearts was followed by a win over Dunfermline away. The Ultras matched this start with an excellent display against Rangers and then a magnificent streamer display at East End Park.

The RU soon began to take on a significant presence at away games as a collection of two-stick flags and banner’s made it to almost every ground from Almondvale to Ibrox. Numbers of members were increasing and the group was beginning to also make a lot more noise. Aberdeen again took on Rangers at Pittodrie in the C.I.S cup and the Ultras achieved something special with a combined strip display under the floodlights. Another card display was performed against Rangers involving the entire lower tier of the RDS and another plastic banner the size of the Red Army flag appeared in between the tiers. A number of home displays were carried out as more and more flags appeared with the Ultras in the upper RDS. One particular home display was carried out with the Ultras going through the strange experience of being away fans in their home ground against Inverness who were currently sharing Pittodrie with AFC.

As the Dons pushed for Europe towards the end of the season the Ultras continued to increase their presence and carried out magnificent home displays against Celtic, Hearts and also away at Inverness. Without a doubt the best home display to date was achieved as Aberdeen again met Rangers at Pittodrie and the players were greeted by a magnificent full stand red and white card display surrounding the new flag featuring Taz which was to become the logo of the Ultras. Aberdeen were to miss out on Europe by goal difference this season but the RU had certainly marked themselves as the group on the rise in Britain.

Optimism was high as the 5th season of the RU started and the Ultras faced more resistance from police as a planned massive card display against Rangers was cancelled for fear of players being hurt by ‘paper missiles’. This was not to deter the group who however carried out another great display with a number of two sticks spelling out the signature Aberdeen song ‘Stand Free’. The Red Army 12 shirt was soon also complemented with the Red Army 12 shorts in a home match against Falkirk and the RU maintained a very colourful presence at away games with strip and flag displays being carried out away against Dunfermline and Inverness. A magnificent card display was carried out against Hearts at Pittodrie and helped maintain the RU’s successful re****tion.

Something special was brewing however as over 6000 plastic flags were put together thanks to a tremendous effort from all Ultras involved and resulted in a magnificent display against Celtic in the RDS. Another well planned away display was carried out as the Dons were put out of the Scottish cup by Hearts and faced another season without silverware. Arguably the best choreography ever carried out by any British group was achieved thanks again to a great effort by the Ultra’s members as 3000 red and white flags were distributed in blocks in the Upper RDS and the lower tier as issued with red and white card. In between the tiers 9 huge flags made up the Don’s anthem ‘STAND FREE’ and helped to inspire the team to a second home win over Rangers in one season.We used Pink Floyds "run like hell" track to accompany display. The season closed out with more excellent away displays against Celtic and Rangers and the RU once again added to the growing gallery of magnificent displays that had been carried out and makes the Ultras the most successful supporter’s group in Britain.

UT: What is the meaning of the name the Red Ultras?
Stephen: RED because Aberdeen play in red and ULTRAS because of the mentality we wanted to bring to the stadium.

UT: Who are you rivals? And do you have ultra group where you are friends with? How did that grow?
Stephen: Our rivals would have to be the other Scottish groups but its nothing sinister at all,we like to outdo each other on the terraces with big displays and banners.We are also pleased to announce an official friendship with the Boavista group the Panteras Negras. The main reason for the link is that both clubs were formed in 1903 and a member of the PN was working in the Granite city and witnessed our group in the RDS during our centenary year. In May 2006 seven Red Ultras members attended the Oporto derby with the Panteras Negras and the freindship was truly cemented that weekend.

UT: Please say something about the general scene of the your team and your relation to the other fans and Hool´s :
Stephen: The Aberdeen supports nickname is the RED ARMY and we make up a small percentage of that,last season we had 110 members and we have a hardcore of 50 who go to all the games.Even if only 3-4 members attend a game whether it be a pre season freindly abroad or whatever the group banner is always there.The rest of the support are now very supportive but it wasnt always that way.We were called fascists on more thn one occassion because the fans didnt understand what we were about but now they look forward to our actions.Aberdeens firm the ASC have nothing but respect and admiration as well towards our group so its all good .

UT: Have you a good relationship with your club?
Stephen: We have a very good understanding with the club,if we didnt we wouldnt be able to do anything.They now realsie what positives we bring to the stadium and they often use pictures of our actions in matchday programmes and in the club shop and on ticket information leaflets.

UT: Please tell us bit of the organisation of Red Ultras (like away games etc.)
Stephen: The group always travels as a group to away games and always stick together ..tight...we have been to many other stadiums and put on more colour and actions than the home groups as well which makes us really proud.

UT: Is your group your scene influenced by politics or other countries like Italy?
Stephen: Politics and religion have no place in football end of story.

UT: What are your future plans? How do you want to widespread the Ultra mentality?
Stephen: We have lots of plans and lots of preparation going on just now for the new season,we have to keep doing better than before so that means bigger projects,its a challenge as the other UK groups are getting better as well.Fans come to us eventually and get involved after witnessing our work.

UT: What is your opinion of the Ultramovement in Europe, which scene are in your view the best and which scene have a good development?
Stephen: The Italian scene for me is the best in Europe and the Argentinians are the best in South America but both soon wont have the freedoms they are used to.TheSscandanavian countries look very good as well but I think the UK will become really strong in the next few years.We are so used to over policing by now that we know what we can get away with and how far we can push things.Im just back from portugal and things are very strict over there and that stringent policing is spreading throughout Europe.

Thank you for the interview, and Ultras-Tifo wish you luke for your future!

(This interview was done in July 2006)