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Hosting a Gothenburg '83 special on Reds TV was an honour for me. I felt like a 16-year-old Aberdeen loon again and these players will always be my heroes; SWEDE DREAMS EURO JOY NIGHT.

Byline: I'LL SUPPORT YOU EVERMORE DEREK RAE, COMMENTATOR & DONS FAN

I'LL never forget that day back in 1973. My dad had taken me down to the putting green near the beach.

Short-game lessons might have been the order of the day but we were just a long goal kick away from Pittodrie and I could hear the expectant roar of the crowd. Aberdeen were at home to Dundee United.

Being a canny Aberdonian my father knew after about 60 minutes they opened the gates so anyone could just walk in.

Following our putting session I as a six-year-old got my first magical taste of live top-flight football.

I had only ever seen it prior to this on our black and white TV. It was like entering a new world and I loved it. We started to go regularly after that.

This was the era before Fergie, before regular wins at Celtic Park and Ibrox, before European success. The Dons would yo-yo between the top and bottom half under Jimmy Bonthrone but that mattered little. Aberdeen was my city, the north east where we came from and the Dons, our team.

They were all local heroes to me from Bobby Clark, later my teacher, to Willie Miller to Davie Robb, to a personal favourite at the time, the silky Drew Jarvie.

After Ally MacLeod brought silverware and much-needed self-belief to the club, Billy McNeill improved the team even more, particularly with the signing of Gordon Strachan who quickly became my new Dons idol.

By this time, as a young amateur commentator, I plucked up the courage to bring my recording device to Pittodrie, initially for reserve games but then for first-team matches too.

I became known as "that daft laddie that speaks to himself for 90 minutes". Later I took my youthful determination to hospital radio commentaries and it gave me one of the best seats in the house during Alex Ferguson's remarkable eight years in the Granite City.

It seemed to those of us living the dream at the time there was no better football city to live in.

When I got my professional break with the BBC at 19 in 1986, it was just as Fergie was on the verge of leaving for Manchester United.

That year I flew for BBC TV to Switzerland with the team for a European tie against Sion.

I had to pinch myself when, knowing I was an Aberdonian and having read about my story, Alex took me aside and wished me the best of luck.

Anything I needed I just had to ask. It was to be his final Euro game at the Dons. Sion won the return 3-0 and it was an early lesson in remaining soberly professional, commentating on my boyhood team.

When broadcasting it's like flicking a switch. My TV teammates become the most important team for me that day. Far more important than who wins and loses. When I worked for BT Sport, Dons fans would say they couldn't detect a pro-Aberdeen slant which I was always delighted about.

Recently Aberdeen celebrated the 37th anniversary a of Gothenburg. While not a milestone anniversary this year, the club realised a lot of people would be celebrating it more than usual given the lockdown and the lack of football. They asked me to host a special programme for Red TV around a replay of the '83 Cup-Winners' Cup Final. My guests by video link were Neil Simpson, Eric Black, winning goalscorer John Hewitt and captain Willie Miller.

I can honestly say it was not only an honour to be asked but also one of the most enjoyable pieces of TV I've ever made. I felt like 16-year-old Aberdeen loon all over again. They are all and will always be heroes to me and my generation from the north east.

Being able to relive that night by hearing their stories in this way reinforced what we shared.

Several Dons fans were in touch to say it put a wee tear in their eye and it had a similar effect on me.

Although my broadcasting has taken me to live in many different places, I'll always be a proud Aberdonian and 1983 is something those of us who lived through will cherish forever.

Being able to relive that night by hearing their stories reinforced what we shared DEREK RAE

CAPTION(S):

GOOD LUCK GESTURE Fergie

RED STARSMILLER and Dons of 1983 are heroes to Rae, and Jarvie, below, was a young favourite
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:I'LL SUPPORT YOU EVERMORE DEREK RAE, COMMENTATOR & DONS FAN
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 8, 2020
Words:749
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