An amateur film-maker who dreamed of working for the BBC will see history turn full circle tonight when his rare footage of Dundee United’s UEFA Cup final appearance is shown on national television.
Graham Duncan was one of the 20,911 fans who packed into Tannadice exactly 30 years ago to watch the Tangerines take on IFK Gothenburg.
While the rest of the crowd lived only in the moment, agonising as Jim McLean’s exhausted side saw their hopes of glory dashed, Mr Duncan was watching from behind a tiny viewfinder as he recorded the occasion using a small film camera.
Mr Duncan, 59, says he was determined that the match — and the camaraderie between the fans inside and outside the ground — would be properly documented.
“When I woke up in the morning I knew it was going to be a special day, whatever happened,” he said.
Nowadays, of course, almost everyone has a high-definition video recorder built into their mobile phone, but things were very different in 1987 — and Mr Duncan believes his is the only significant recording of the occasion other than the official video shot for TV.
As well as footage from inside Tannadice, his “Little Giants” film also captured rare shots of the Gothenburg fans arriving in Dundee in the hours leading up to the match and shows the Swedes mixing freely with locals.
“It brought the view of the fan,” he said. “I see the major coverage and it’s like it’s a different match to the one I saw.”
Mr Duncan’s film has been watched tens of thousands of times since he digitised it and uploaded it to YouTube some years ago.
But tonight it gets its most high-profile showing as scenes feature in a special anniversary TV programme on BBC Alba.
For Mr Duncan, it’s a fitting tribute to an unforgettable time for Dundee United — and vindication of the filming skills he practised all those year ago before he was turned down by the BBC and life took him in other directions.
“I often think you have eyes to see, but you also have eyes to feel and sometimes the feeling is pride, sometimes emotion, sometimes sadness,” he said.
“But on that day is was a mixture of all that: it was special. I was glad I was there and able to record it.”
Tannadice 87 will be broadcast on BBC Alba from 9pm tonight.