Travers was replaced by former Yeovil Town manager Dave Halliday, one of more than a hundred applicants for the role, and the club moved from their black and gold strip to red and white. Halliday had barely begun his work when World War II halted competitive football in the United Kingdom. For these six years, the club was temporarily taken over by then-directors Charles B Forbes and George Anderson while Halliday served in the war.
Halliday’s place in the Aberdeen Hall of Fame was secured after the war when he became the first manager to bring national trophies to Pittodrie. Aberdeen won the Southern League Cup in the 1945–46 season, defeating Rangers 3–2 at Hampden. They then reached the 1947 Scottish Cup final, defeating Hibernian 2–1 with George Hamilton, signed from Halliday’s former club Queen of the South, scoring to gain the club’s first major trophy. From this early success, Halliday’s side reached two more Scottish Cup finals, in 1953and 1954, though they lost both. Halliday’s team were not to be denied, however, and the following season, 1954–55, Aberdeen won their first Scottish League title. Though league winners, the club did not participate in the first European Cup competition—Scotland’s place was awarded to Hibernian, who took part by special invitation.
Halliday and Hamilton left at the end of that championship-winning season, and Halliday was replaced by Davie Shaw. Aberdeen won the League Cup under his guidance, beating St Mirren in 1955–56, and reached another Scottish Cup final in 1959. However, Shaw stepped aside for another former favourite player, Tommy Pearson, in 1959. Pearson’s time in charge coincided with a high turnover of players, and yielded no trophies. He retired in 1965, making way for Eddie Turnbull.
Turnbull led Aberdeen to the 1967 Scottish Cup final, where the side was ultimately defeated by Celtic. Despite this loss, Aberdeen qualified for the European Cup Winner’s Cup in the following season thanks to their appearance in this final, the first time the club had competed in European competition. Their first tie was a 14–1 aggregate victory over KR Reykjavik, although they lost the second round tie with Standard Liège 3–2 on aggregate. Two years later, Derek “Cup-tie” McKay recorded the only four goals of his Aberdeen career to help his team to the 1969–70 Scottish Cup, scoring the winning goals in the quarter- and semi final, and two in the final itself. As Scottish Cup holders, Aberdeen once again qualified for the same competition, but were eliminated in the first round following a 4–4 aggregate tie with Honvéd. This tie, level after extra time and also level on away goals, was decided by the first penalty shoot-out in UEFA competition history, Honvéd winning the shootout 5–4 in Budapest.
The Aberdeen side of the 1970s regularly challenged for domestic honours. However, they rarely won trophies, with the exception of the Drybrough Cup in 1971 under Jimmy Bonthrone and the League Cup in 1976, under Ally MacLeod. During this decade, Aberdeen had five managers: Eddie Turnbull, Jimmy Bonthrone, Ally MacLeod, Billy McNeill and Alex Ferguson. They reached two more national cup finals—the Scottish Cup in 1978 under Billy McNeill and the League Cup in the following season under the new manager Alex Ferguson.