I was reminded this week of just what a superb analyst Jock Stein was when someone tweeted an interview I did with the ex-Celtic boss on the night in Sweden known to all Aberdeen FC fans quite simply as “Gothenburg”.
Dons supporters from that era have since brainwashed their offspring and grandchildren about how wonderful the team was – and they were – in beating “we used to be better than this” Real Madrid 2-1 in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.
And Stein, who had travelled with the Reds, was on the mark when he told me: “Aberdeen are playing a myth tonight, something of 20 years ago when there would only be one winner.
“In that time, Aberdeen have improved tremendously while Real have gone backwards.
“Aberdeen would be my selection as winners tonight.”
I was there to present Grampian Television’s live North Tonight programme from the Ullevi Stadium and while the sodden pitch would have had this game called off in normal circumstances, it went ahead.
For me, though, the compelling part of the story centred on those dedicated Dons fans who travelled any which way they could to witness such an important segment in the club’s historic victory.
Can you imagine, for example, 500 of them setting sail on the P&O ferry St Clair for 18 hours during which time the vessel’s bars were drunk dry?
I watched the ship berth in Gothenburg and looked on as a long line of “sailors” staggered down the gangway, with some of them not knowing where they were and many without sufficient funds to even buy an overpriced dram in Sweden’s second city – more than £8.50 in today’s money.
Another mariner, barely coherent, announced he’d spent £700 – almost £2,000 today – on his trip because he wanted to be part of the action.
So, those Dons disciples were as much heroes as the team that returned with the trophy and allowed the men and women who wore red and white that night 37 years ago to hand down their tales and say: “I was there.”