Craig Salmon looks at non-league Salford City’s sensational swoop for striker Adam Rooney, who has left Scottish Premier League outfit Aberdeen to play in England’s fifth tier
The old ones are always the best – or so they say when it comes to joke telling.
But I bet the people of Scotland are getting heartily sick of that tired gag which only ever gets rolled out during the summer when a major football competition is about to get under way.
‘What do you call a Scotsman at the World Cup?’ The referee!
If having your team’s lack of ‘success’ at international level ridiculed – it’s been 20 long years since the Tartan Army qualified for a World Cup – was bad enough, then the news that the star striker at one of your country’s biggest clubs has decided to leave for a non-league outfit south of the border is surely a dagger to the heart of every Scottish football fan.
Adam Rooney’s decision to turn his back on the lure of European football with Aberdeen – the third most decorated club in Scottish football history – and join Salford City of the National League, in England, has caused quite a stir.
It appears the opportunity to play for last season’s National League North champions – who only two or three years ago were plying their trade at the same level as Bamber Bridge – was too lucrative an offer to refuse.
The former Oldham Athletic, Swindon Town and Birmingham City forward scored 86 goals in nearly 200 appearances in a four-year stint with the Dons – his 11 goals last season helping them to finish in runners-up spot behind Celtic in the Scottish top flight.
If Rooney had remained on the North East coast, he would be busy preparing to lead the line on Thursday night for their Europa League opening qualifying round first-leg tie against Premier League Burnley at Pittodrie.
Few could argue that Salford – managed by former PNE ace Graham Alexander – is a club which is certainly on the up and not many people could blame the 30-year-old Rooney for taking the opportunity to significantly increase his salary.
However, it illustrates how big the financial chasm between the north and south divide has become when the second best team in Scotland cannot compete with a team recently promoted to the fifth tier of English football.
As a young kid I vividly remember the fine Aberdeen side of the early 1980s which for a period broke up the Celtic and Rangers duopoly at the top of Scottish football, and famously went on to defeat Real Madrid to lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup on a sodden night in Gothenburg in 1983.
Of course back then, the Dons were managed by Alex Ferguson – who eventually made the move south but to Salford’s more famous neighbours, Manchester United.
A penny for his thoughts on the transfer as the Ammies are, of course, partly owned by United’s famed Class of ’92 – Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes.