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1987 UEFA Cup Final

Dundee United v IFK Gothenburg

Two landmarks of the northeast Scottish city are Dens Park, home to Dundee FC, and Tannadice Park of Dundee United, separated by a simple 200 yards with a brisk walk between the two taking no greater than a couple of minutes. Whilst Dundee FC were the very first team in the area, the arrival of Dundee Hibernian in 1909 attracted backing from the large influx of Irish immigrants. However, by 1923, in an attempt to increase its fan base, the club dropped the Hibernian name and emerged as Dundee United.

The early part of their existence saw them flit in between divisions, only becoming developed in the top tier under the guidance of Jerry Kerr. With Kerr at the helm, United made their European launching in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1966, where they finished a remarkable double against holders Barcelona before falling to Italian giants Juventus in the next round.

The departure of Kerr in 1971 unlocked to United's most effective era. Jim McLean was serving as the coaching personnel at Dundee FC before being offered the top job at Tannadice. His impact wasn't instant however under his tutelage he managed a huge enhancement in the club's youth policy, the fruits of this coming to the fore as the calendar turned to the 1980s.

The 1986/87 season saw Dundee United once again in the UEFA Cup, the modern neglect revealed to Europe's secondary competition by certain clubs not evident back then. With just the champs of each nation qualifying for the European Cup, a litany of impressive sides wound up in its sister contest. The two-legged structure of the tournament frequently indicated the finest team progressed, although the away goals rule was in impact to encourage more assaulting endeavour from the visitors.

A legendary campaign - one that included home and away wins over Barcelona, a historical triumph at Borussia Moenchengladbach, and a fortuitous cup draw at Forfar - came down to 5 days in May. Five days, two matches, two trophies. Neither of which Jim McLean's side would win.

Looking back, the United players battle to emotionally untwine the two contests. The first was expected to be a first Scottish Cup accomplishment for the club at the fourth attempt, a completely winnable match versus St Mirren in which the favourites had an extra-time effort prohibited before the Paisley side nabbed an unexpected winner.

The anticipated events were cancelled, however, a horrendous hangover was still clouding United minds a couple of days later when they invited Gothenburg to Dundee with a 1-0 first-leg deficit to overturn.
The gala event of a European Final ended up being a frustration from our perspective in terms of result, however not as a spectacle or as an advert for all the good ideas about the match. The match was played in the most sporting of way and the final whistle brought similar sentiments from the balconies and stands where the 20,911 crowd warmly acknowledged the visitors, as well as the efforts of United and the Manager Jim McLean. It was an evening couple of who attended will forget.

United's task from the outset was going to be of the greatest magnitude. IFK, who had scored in every away tie in which they had gotten involved, had to be kept from extending that remarkable run. As it took place, Lennart Nilsson struck a raking drive fractionally inside Billy Thomson's right-hand post to go-ahead after 22 minutes. The was undoubtedly the important blow, but, maybe not the turning point. A brilliant start by us saw Kevin Gallacher established a possibility for Billy Kirkwood, whose shot struck Wernersson, rather than being saved by him. A goal after five minutes to completely level matters may well have been the start of a script with various endings.

At half-time Paul Hegarty began for John Holt, enabling John Clark to progress. The relocation paid dividends within 15 minutes when John Clark picked up an Iain Ferguson pass on the edge of the box. After managing it, John wheeled to fire in an excellent goal past Wernersson. Tails up now, we overdid the pressure. A free-kick from John Clark was well conserved, and most importantly a flick by Kevin Gallacher averted Wernersson, however, climbed up agonisingly over the bar.

However, it was not to be and perhaps the deflation following the defeat in the Scottish Cup Final showed similarly as big an obstacle as the track record and lead held by Gothenburg. Nevertheless, it needs to take absolutely nothing away from what was an incredible cup run that offered the United fans memories that will last forever.