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Derek Dougan – a tribute on his 80th birthday

By on 18 January 2018

Yesterday on Facebook SoccerAttic marked the anniversary of the abolition of the professional footballers’ maximum wage in 1961 – an initiative championed by the then Chairman of the PFA, Jimmy Hill. Today we pay tribute to another former Chairman of the PFA who, but for his death in 2007 aged just 69, would have been celebrating his 80th birthday tomorrow – Derek Dougan.

‘The Doog’ was just as outspoken as Jimmy Hill – possibly more so. He has been likened very much to the Roy Keane of his day. He was a footballer any pro would want on his side but reportedly not always the most popular in the dressing room. Word is that he was never forgiven by his Blackburn Rovers teammates for asking for a transfer the week before their 3-0 defeat to Wolves in the FA Cup Final. He felt the club was not being run properly. As it happened he stayed another year before departing for Aston Villa but that was the nature of the man.

He was never afraid to speak his mind and generally ploughed his own furrow throughout his career. Even as a manager he courted controversy by being the first to introduce shirt sponsorship as player/manager of Kettering Town.

“I’ve always been my own man and stood for what I thought was right,” he once said. It was this part of his character that made him the ideal choice to head the  PFA when  opportunity arose in 1970. He believed that players should be in charge of their own destiny and used his position as Chairman to try and further players’ rights. The very first PFA awards occured under his watch in 1973–74, which Derek Dougan Aston Villaincluded the first PFA Player of the Year. He was a huge advocate for freedom of contract for players and oversaw the deal in 1978 that allowed players to switch clubs at the end of their contracts as long as the player’s both clubs were in agreement on a transfer fee. Like Jimmy Hill, modern players owe a lot to him for his tenacity.

The Doog represented Northern Ireland on 43 occasions making his debut against Czechoslovakia in a 1-0 win at the 1958 World Cup. He missed out for a few years in 1962 when his move to Third Division Peterborough saw him left out of contention for international football but he was back in 1965 after returning to Division One at Leicester City. His final appearance was in 1973 in a World Cup qualifier against Cyprus.

But, it was at Wolverhampton Wanderers where he found his true spiritual home. He joined in March 1967 when Wolves were in the Second Division under manager Ronnie Allen. He made an immediate impact scoring a hat-trick against Hull City in his home debut. He helped Wolves win promotion back to Division One that season. It was in the early 1970s when he teamed up in attack with John Richards that he really became the stuff of legends at Molineux. He stayed at Wolves until 1975 when he retired having scored a total of 279 goals in 661 league and cup appearances across 18 seasons in the Football League.

He would in fact unexpectedly play again as player manager of Kettering Town where he famously negotiated the first ever shirt sponsorship deal.

In 1982 he fronted a consortium to buy Wolves and rescue them from liquidation. He became Chairman of the club until he resigned the post in 1985 during Wolves’ descent down the leagues that would eventually see them struggling and desperately short of money in the  Fourth Division.

He was a man who liked a cause and football was undoubtedly better off with him involved. He’s sadly not here to celebrate his 80th birthday but hopefully we can provide our own fitting tribute to the man through the pages of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly here.

Derek Dougan Northern Ireland Charles Buchan's Football MonthlyDerek Dougan Wolves Charles Buchan's Football MonthlyDerek Dougan Leicester City Charles Buchan's Football Monthly

Wolves Gifts From SoccerAttic Gift Shop

Click on the image to buy mugs featuring Wolves legends Derek Dougan and Billy Wright

Billy Wright Wolves MugDerek Dougan Wolves Mug