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Derek Dougan

Preceded by
Succeeded by
1972 – 1973

The word "controversial" would not do justice to Derek Dougan's footballing career, and his antics in the thirty-odd years after he retired from playing...

Name: Alexander Derek Dougan
Born: 20 January 1938, Belfast
Died: 24 June 2007, Wolverhampton (England)
Height: 6.03 ft
Weight: 12.06 st
Position: Forward

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 43 Full Caps/8 Goals (1958-1973), 2 B Caps/3 Goals (1957-1959), 2 Amateur Caps (1956-1957), Youth Caps, 3 Schoolboy Caps (1952).
Club Honours: (with Distillery) Irish Cup Winner 1955/56; (with Blackburn) FA Cup Runner-Up 1959/60; (with Wolves) Football League Division Two Runner-Up (promoted) 1966/67; Football League Cup Winner 1973/74; UEFA Cup Runner-Up 1971/72; Texaco Cup Winner 1971/72; (with L.A. Wolves) US Soccer Association Champion 1967; (with Kansas City Spurs) NASL International Cup Winner 1969.

Club Career:
FA Cup
FL Cup
Cregagh Boys
0 (0)/  0
*76 (0)/ 17
33 (0)/  9
3(0)/ 0
Blackburn Rovers
59 (0)/ 26
14(0)/ 4
3(0)/ 4
Aston Villa
51 (0)/ 19
5(0)/ 2
4(0)/ 5
Peterborough Utd
77 (0)/ 38
10(0)/ 7
3(0)/ 1
Leicester City
68 (0)/ 35
5(0)/ 1
3(0)/ 5
244(14)/ 95
12(0)/ 4
22(0)/ 7
L.A. Wolves
11 (-)/  3
(United Soccer Association)
Kansas City Spurs
6 (-)/  4
Kettering Town
(Southern League)

* all games.

It was as an amateur with Distillery that Derek Dougan made his name, featuring more often at left-half or on the left-wing than in the centre-forward role that would make him famous.  With the Whites he won an Irish Cup winner’s medal in 1956, scoring in an initial 2-2 draw with Glentoran before the match was settled after a second replay.  By the time he left Belfast in August 1957, aged just nineteen, Dougan had added Northern Ireland Youth and Amateur caps to those he won as a Schoolboy.  He had captained his club and featured in virtually every out-field position, and earned them a £4,000 fee from English giants, Portsmouth.

Despite preferring life in the half-back line, Portsmouth had signed Dougan as a forward.  Within months he was leading the line in the First Division and coming to the attention of Peter Doherty.  Doherty awarded Dougan a ‘B’ Cap against Rumania – he scored a hattrick in a 6-0 win and at the end of that season took him to the World Cup Finals.  Dougan had just 28 League appearances behind him.

Still just twenty years-old, Dougan’s inclusion in Northern Ireland’s World Cup squad was meant to be for experience only. But when regular number nine, Billy Simpson picked-up an injury in training Doherty called on the raw six-footer to lead the line for the opening match against Czechoslovakia.  Although the game resulted in a 1-0 win, Doherty felt that Dougan wasn’t quite ready for the Big Stage and it was his only game in Sweden – he was however assured that he had a bright future in the green shirt.

Transferred for £15,000 to Blackburn in March 1959, Dougan had already gained a reputation for speaking his mind.  He further cemented that reputation when he handed in a transfer request on the eve of the 1960 FA Cup Final – one of the few regrets he held from his long career.  That that match ended in a 3-0 defeat by Wolves is often pointed to as illustrating Dougan’s single-mindedness at the expense of the team.  While few would argue that he was strong-willed, he was held in high-regard by his fellow players for his work as Chairman of the PFA in the 1970s and in his role as spokesman for injured ex-players right up to his death.

Dougan left Ewood Park for Aston Villa in July 1961.  His time at Villa Park got off to a bad start when a car-crash ruled him out for three months.  Later he would become popular with the Villa faithful, earning the nickname ‘Cheyenne’, courtesy of his shaved head.  Further injuries caused Dougan to lose form and he fell out of favour with Joe Mercer and became frustrated with the game in general. In June 1963 he took the bold step of transferring to Third Division Peterborough.

The move down the divisions put Dougan’s international career on hiatus.  He had become a regular in the Northern Ireland team in the early sixties, scoring three times in nine games up to 1963.  When he returned to the side in 1965 he scored in a memorable 3-2 win over Scotland. However, the one criticism of the remainder of his international career was that, for a prolific marksman in the Football League, his goals on the world stage were rare, and he was guilty of missing a few sitters too.  Still, his fancy flicks and sheer enthusiasm have been long remembered at Windsor Park, and most would forgive his fairly average return of eight goals in 43 games.

His two seasons in the lower-league allowed Dougan to regain his form and fitness, and more importantly his love of the game.  He returned to the top-flight with Leicester in 1965, and moved on to Wolves for £50,000 in March 1967.  It was at Molineaux that he enjoyed the game the most and he became known as ‘The Crown Prince of Football’.  Nine goals in his first eleven games helped Wolves to promotion back to the First Division and over eight years he helped the club to the UEFA Cup Final in 1972 (where they lost to Spurs) and a League Cup Final success over Man City in 1974.

In July 1973 Dougan was instrumental in organising a match between a Shamrock Rovers XI (aka an All-Ireland XI) and Brazil. The match, with Dougan among the scorers in a 4-3 defeat for the Irish, was  opposed by the hierarchy of the Irish FA and the FAI also reportedly had reservations. Dougan alleged that the IFA President, Harry Cavan, instructed Northern Ireland manager Terry Neill not to select him again for the international team as way of punishment for his involvement. This allegation overlooks the fact that Dougan was in the twilight of his career anyway, had not scored in his previous ten international appearances, and had in any case not featured in the previous five Northern Ireland teams. Further, international careers of the other six Northern Ireland players included in the Shamrock Rovers XI team all continued unabated.

Dougan retired from full-time football in 1975.  His goalscoring feats included 222 League goals (a record for an Ulsterman) from 546 games and hattricks in the First and Second Divisions, the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup. He became player/manager/chief-executive at Kettering Town and was quickly on the wrong side of the FA again as he introduced sponsorship to the team’s shirts.  Later he briefly returned for an ill-fated spell on the Wolves board.  For 25 years Dougan was seldom out of the spot-light, appearing on TV and standing for political office.  One of his final public appearances was as pall bearer at the funeral of one of old friends, George Best.

Blackburn Rovers-Vital Football Bio

The Wolves Site Bio
Sporting Heroes - Wolves Pt 1, Pt2
Wikipedia Article
Wolves legend Dougan dies aged 69
SoccerHistory Obituary
Nigel's Webspace - Dougan's Career in Cards

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
08/06/1958 Czechoslovakia N W 1-0 WCF
03/10/1959 Scotland...... H L 0-4 BC
08/10/1960 England....... H L 2-5 BC
12/04/1961 Wales......... H L 1-5 BC. 1 Goal
25/04/1961 Italy......... A L 2-3 FR. 1 Goal
03/05/1961 Greece........ A L 1-2 WCQ
10/10/1962 Poland........ A W 2-0 ENC 1 Goal
07/11/1962 Scotland...... A L 1-5 BC
28/11/1962 Poland........ H W 2-0 ENC
02/10/1965 Scotland...... H W 3-2 BC. 1 Goal
10/11/1965 England....... A L 1-2 BC
24/11/1965 Albania....... A D 1-1 WCQ
30/03/1966 Wales......... A W 4-1 BC
07/05/1966 West Germany.. H L 0-2 FR
22/06/1966 Mexico........ H W 4-1 FR
22/10/1966 England....... H L 0-2 ECQ
16/11/1966 Scotland...... A L 1-2 ECQ
12/04/1967 Wales......... H D 0-0 ECQ
21/10/1967 Scotland...... H W 1-0 ECQ
28/02/1968 Wales......... A L 0-2 ECQ
10/09/1968 Israel........ A W 3-2 FR. 1 Goal
23/10/1968 Turkey........ H W 4-1 WCQ 1 Goal
11/12/1968 Turkey........ A W 3-0 WCQ
03/05/1969 England....... H L 1-3 BC
06/05/1969 Scotland...... A D 1-1 BC
10/05/1969 Wales......... H D 0-0 BC
10/09/1969 USSR.......... H D 0-0 WCQ
22/10/1969 USSR.......... A L 0-2 WCQ
18/04/1970 Scotland...... H L 0-1 BC
21/04/1970 England....... A L 1-3 BC
11/11/1970 Spain......... A L 0-3 ECQ
03/02/1971 Cyprus........ A W 3-0 ECQ 1 Goal
21/04/1971 Cyprus........ H W 5-0 ECQ 1 Goal
15/05/1971 England....... H L 0-1 BC
18/05/1971 Scotland...... A W 1-0 BC
22/05/1971 Wales......... H W 1-0 BC
22/09/1971 USSR.......... A L 0-1 ECQ
13/10/1971 USSR.......... H D 1-1 ECQ
20/05/1972 Scotland...... H L 0-2 BC
23/05/1972 England....... A W 1-0 BC
27/05/1972 Wales......... A D 0-0 BC
18/10/1972 Bulgaria...... A L 0-3 WCQ
14/02/1973 Cyprus........ A L 0-1 WCQ

Summary: 43/8. Won 15, Drew 7, Lost 21.

Northern Ireland B Cap Details:
23/10/1957 Romania H W 6-0 FR 3 goals
11/11/1959 France. H D 1-1 FR

Summary: 2/3. Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 0.

Northern Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
15/09/1956 England. A L 2-5 BC
19/01/1957 Wales... A L 1-3 BC

Summary: 2/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 2.

Northern Ireland Schoolboy Cap Details:
19/04/1952 Wales... A L 1-5
02/05/1952 Scotland H L 2-5
10/05/1952 England. A L 0-5 

Summary: 3/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 3.

Northern Ireland's Derek Dougan and England's Jack Charlton in action during a European qualifier at Windsor Park (1966) 💚

Posted by Irish Football Memories on Saturday, 11 July 2020


Anonymous said…
Doug won his FA Cup runner up medal against Wolves, not for them, when he played for Blackburn in 1960.
jcd said…
Hi King,

I think you've misunderstood the format of the Honours section.

The honours he won with Wolves are those listed after (with Wolves).

Hope this clarifies things.
Anonymous said…
Dougan did not win a League Cup medal with Leicester in 1963-4. He was with Peterborough then. The Dougan who played for Leicester in the two-legged final of the League Cup was Max Dougan, a half-back
jcd said…
Thanks Steve,

Fixed it now.

I had only added that fact recently having stumbled across the Leicester line-up whilst looking through League Cup final teams for another bio... that will teach me to fully check my facts!
Ken Garrett said…
The Doog was an articulate and opinionated man. On the pitch he always gave 100% in an era when you had to be as 'hard as nails' to play up front. The controversy he generated throughout his career should not be allowed to detract from his fine career at, most notably, Wolves.
Unknown said…
Loved him at Wolves Ken true supper star.
Unknown said…
My dad took me to watch Distillery playing in Belfast. Big Derek had a 'Mohawk haircut;' That and his lanky teenage frame made him difficult to ignore. I always look back with laughter at my dad's comment; "look at that big ejit."
I loved and salute 'the Doug' for his bravery on and off the field and I suspect that the whole of Belfast thinks the same.
I remember a Scotland game at Windsor Park when Derek was standing on the side line waiting to take a throw in; the ball was on the field unattended. Denis Law, his first game for Scotland, jogged forward, picked up the ball and give a gentle throw to the Doug who let the ball hit him on the head and then faked a fall to the ground and just laid there. Well, the whole ground roared with laughter.
John Chamley said…
Derek Dougan did not earn the nickname 'Cheyenne' at Villa, it was given to him by my Dad, who worked every game with St John's Ambulance at Ewood Park, and worked at the Swan Hotel on Whalley Street where a number of Rovers players enjoyed a pint or two during the 1950s and into the 1960s. He was always up for a laugh with the players and one night, when 'the Doog' was lording it up a bit, my Dad told him "Alright Cheyenne, you're not on telly now!". Cheyenne was a popular American TV Western series between 1955 and 1965, the title character of Cheyenne Bodie being played by Clint Walker, Google him to see the resemblance. The other players picked up on it and the nickname stuck.
So there you have it, christened Cheyenne by Jack Chamley (1920 – 1965).

Extract from an interview with Derek's brother, Dale, back in 2007;
Although he put in a transfer request the day before the trip to Wembley to take on Wolves in, Dale said Derek thought the rest of the team were going to do the same after a row over bonuses.
But they didn't and the young Northern Irish striker was left high and dry, his reputation in the eyes of Rovers fans was tarnished forever.
He said: "Blackburn were on a fantastic Cup run and, the further they went in the Cup, Derek was promised fantastic bonuses. The sky was the limit. Derek played a pivotal role in getting Blackburn into the final and the bonuses they were promised did not happen.
Derek told me that all the players got together to talk about how to deal with it and they decided to put in transfer requests en masse. So that's what Derek did. The only problem was, nobody else did. He told me that he felt betrayed by his team-mates.
He thought the players and management would double bluff each other and then come to some agreement to suit everyone. So, he went into the FA Cup final having put in a transfer request."
"He was heart-broken to leave. He didn't mean for it to turn out the way it did. He thought the team were going to double-bluff the management. It's a real shame. I'm sure he would have gone on to have a long an illustrious career at Blackburn and the fans would have seen what an asset he could have been to the club.
"The experience made him grow up quickly and he made sure it never happened again."

It was a sad end to a promising career for the boy from Belfast. He arrived at Ewood from Portsmouth for £15,000 in 1959 as a striker who had been converted from a centre-half.
He made his debut on March 14 of that year against Arsenal and became an instant hit.
"Derek was only a young boy when he moved from Distillery to Portsmouth in the 1950s.
He was only 16 when he went to Portsmouth. He moved to Portsmouth as a centre-half but Distillery didn't know that they planned to turn him into a centre-forward.
"Had they known that they would have been after a lot more than the £4,000 they got for him. Forwards were worth a lot more then because the centre-halves were just stoppers.”

"We were ecstatic when he moved to Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn had a phenomenal team and were one of the powerhouses of English football. They were dominant in the north and had a fantastic reputation.
"Derek didn't want a transfer from Portsmouth but they needed the money and Blackburn were prepared to pay £15,000 for a young up and coming star. He was still learning his craft."
He paid back his transfer fee with 34 goals in 76 appearances for Rovers.
"Being in the ground and being part of that was unbelievable. I was only about 14 when Derek played for Blackburn and to see my brother on the pitch playing alongside world class players like Bryan Douglas and Peter Dobing, as equals, and playing against world class stars made me and my father very proud. To be there and see how the crowd loved him and how he loved playing for them made those times special.