Former Derry City player Dougie Wood passed away last week. Pic by Tom Heaney, nwpresspics
Few players have had an impact on Derry City Football Club quite like Dougie Wood.
The Scottish defensive midfielder sadly passed away last Friday, aged 82, spent 11 years at the Brandywell, winning the Irish League title and Irish Cup and featuring in some of the club’s memorable European games.
Having arrived at the Brandywell in 1961 as a 21-year-old, he went on to become a key figure in the club’s history as Derry City’s time in the Irish league came to an end. He eventually left the Brandywell in 1972 to become player-manager role at Athlone Town and brief spells at Sligo Rovers and Shelbourne followed before he retired in 1978.
Dougie was laid to rest earlier this week and was described as a ‘giant of Brandywell Stadium whose footballing talent brought ‘tremendous joy and happiness to the people of the city’.
His time at the Brandywell was filled with incredible memories for a young Scot who found his home at Derry City.
Another Derry City legend, Felix Healy, who played with Dougie at Sligo, remembers being in awe of the Scot when he watched him play as a youngster.
“Dougie was an incredible athlete,” he said. “He played 176 consecutive games for Derry and he was a very fit boy. He had this way of tackling where he would slide in from the back and come away with the ball, so he always had a knack. His problem was that he couldn’t pass the ball. That was his downfall.
“But the goals he scored; Dougie would have smacked them from 30 yards, and the strange thing was he was very banty in the way he stood, but he was an incredible athlete and a tough guy, up and down the pitch.”
“He won the Ulster Footballer of the Year when Derry won the league which was the big prize at the time. He was the captain of the team. There was also Jimmy McGeough and he was a top player, and there was Johnny McKenzie and Fay Coyle, they were a good side. In those days when you seen Dougie out and about it was like seeing a film star.”
Derry City manager Willie Ross captured the signature of 21-year-old Raith Rovers inside-forward Douglas ‘Dougie’ Wood, one of several Scots signed for that season.
When Glentoran came to Brandywell on Saturday, August 19th for the opening game in the Ulster Cup, they fielded an all-Scots attack. The team was: Stallard, McBride, Cathcart, Campbell, Travers, McDermott, Carmichael, Wood, Lamb, Young and Paton. Derry lost 2-1 with Mickey McDermott scoring the home goal.
Wood and Paton were the most impressive of the new players and Wood had the distinction of playing in every Derry game during the season, finishing his first season with 10 goals.
The switch of Dougie Wood to wing half transformed him from a good inside man into an outstanding player.
Doug Wood’s form was attracting cross-channel interest. Halifax Town made a £2,000 offer, which Derry rightly turned down as inadequate. Then Ipswich Town offered Wood a week’s trial. Again, Derry turned that offer down indignantly.
Derry were told that Ipswich manager Alf Ramsey would not sign a player without having seen him personally, but that ‘he had no time to come to Ireland to watch him’. Apparently, even then, long before he achieved his later eminence in the game, Ramsey had a touch of arrogance. ‘Full marks to Derry for slapping him down’, wrote Derry Journal reporter Frank Curran. Derry’s win record was much better than it had been for several seasons, with Wood getting three goals this time.
Doug Wood scored twice as Derry City hammered Cliftonville 6-1 on his 100th consecutive appearance. This was before the famous Irish Cup final win of 1964.
The game was headed for a 0-0 draw on April 25 when Joe Wilson set the game alight. Wilson won the ball from Eamon Byrne and found Fay Coyle who picked out the run of his team mate through the middle. Referee Arthur Holland told his linesman to keep his flag down and waved play on, and Wilson cooly avoided a lunge by Glentoran goalkeeper Arthur Finlay before cracking a left-foot shot into the net. Another goal from Matt Doherty followed and Derry had won the cup in dramatic fashion. Wood score five goals in this Cup winning campaign.
Winning the Irish Cup entitled Derry City to play in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and they were paired with Romanian side Steaua Bucharest with the first leg scheduled for September 9.
Over 20,000 people were present when the teams lined out at the August 23 Stadium, a ground capable of holding four times that number.
The Derry team was: Mahon, Campbell, Cathcart, McGeough, Crossan, Doug Wood, McKenzie, Doherty, Coyle, Wilson, Seddon (the Irish Cup winning eleven).
Against a slick, super-fit side, Derry upheld the prestige of Irish League football in heart-warming fashion, but lost 3-0 after some very contentious refereeing decisions.
There was huge interest in the visit of Steaua to Brandywell on September 16, with 10,000 fans squeezing into the ground, but a 2-0 defeat saw Derry exit Europe.
The league campaign was going incredibly well however, with City challenging for their first Irish League title and victory against Ards in early April confirmed them as champions for the first time.
The final five minutes of that game were played amid a continuous din from the supporters and when the final whistle sounded, hundreds streamed onto the pitch to mob the players. Wood scored three goals overall as he helped Derry to this historic achievement.
Derry City created history as the first Irish team to win a two-legged tie in Europe.
European football was on the horizon again and this time the draw was more attractive as Derry were paired with Norwegian champions FK Lyn of Oslo.
A 5-3 defeat in the first leg gave Derry plenty of heart and nearly 11,000 people crowded Brandywell on Thursday, September 9 as the teams resumed battle on a rain-soaked pitch.
Joe Wilson gave Derry the perfect start and the smallest man on the pitch doubled the lead with another header just minutes later.
A Lynn goal before half time put the Norwegians back in the lead, but just three minutes into the second half, Derry hearts were soaring when Jim Crossan scored a goal in a thousand. sending a rising shot over a flat-footed Martinsen and into the net from 40 yards to make it 3-1 Derry and 6-6 on aggregate.
Further goals from Ron Wood and Jimmy McGeough completed the comeback as Derry City created history as the first Irish team to win a two-legged tie in Europe.
The IFA were determined that Derry City would no longer play European games at the Brandywell, while Derry City were adamant that they would refuse to play of Brandywell was banned. A draw against Belgium giants Anderlecht only stirred up the controversy more and after a 9-0 first leg defeat, City officially forfeited the second leg.
In a disappointing season overall for the club, Wood scored 4 goals.
There remained only five of the Championship winning side – Frank Connor, Eunan Blake, Doug Wood, Roy Seddon and Joe Wilson. It was a disappointingly quick break up of a fine side.
Glentoran’s supremacy in Irish soccer was halted by title-chasing Derry City before a near capacity crowd at Brandywell on Saturday, December 10. City won 1-0 thanks to a Doug Wood penalty to end the visitors’ record-breaking run of 25 domestic games without defeat.
Derry completed a season of great expectations unrealised, by beating Shamrock Rovers 2-0 in a benefit match for Doug Wood, who had scored 10 goals through the season.
Dougie Wood was one of only three full-timers at the club alongside Jim McDermott and Mike Balmer.
On February 1, City pulled off a huge surprise when they signed former Port Vale, Norwich and Everton player and Northern Ireland international Jimmy Hill as player-manager, but on the pitch City were going backwards instead of forwards. Wood scored 9 goals in this season.
Derry City began the 1968-69 season with five full-time players – manager Jimmy Hill, Doug Wood, Mike Balmer, Jimmy Doherty and new Scottish winger Alex Donald.
Wood scored just one goal in this campaign.
Only Eunan Blake and Doug Wood remained from the 1964-65 Championship-winning panel when City lined out against Ards in the Ulster Cup on Saturday, August 9, but the game was a disaster, as they lost 3-0.
One of the highlights of the season was Dougie Wood’s 40-yard rocket against Linfield in the Irish Cup semi-final, one of five goals he got that season. But the game ended in defeat and was marred by sectarian clashes.
There was an air of unreality about what became known as ‘The Silent Cup Final’ on April 3.
Distillery had also reached the Irish Cup final – but then came a major shock for Derry as the IFA appointed Windsor Park as the venue. From that announcement, interest in Derry in the match zoomed to zero. Derry sold only 150 of their 2,000 allocated tickets and in the end, only 6,000 people turned up
The atmosphere seemed to communicate itself to the players, who played like they were in a trance, and they conceded three quick goals as a result. Ironically, it was county Derryman Martin O’Neill who took advantage, scoring two of the goals in a 3-0 win. It was a forgettable day for a variety of reasons and none befitting an Irish Cup final.
The club could also no longer afford fulltime players. It was announced that, apart from player-manager Hill, all would be part-time. Rowland and Wood got jobs, and were thus able to stay at the club. For the first time in his long career, Wood was not a full-time player. He scored 7 goals in this forgettable season.
Doug Wood became player-coach. The popular Scot, after 10 years at the club, took his first steps into management knowing he had a mammoth task on his hands.
He walked straight into controversy. Sammy Pavis, formerly of Linfield and now of Crusaders, did not help Derry’s situation at home by declaring that he would not go to Brandywell and he hoped that other players would share his view. He said that if clubs tried to force players to go to Brandywell, the Players’ Union would fight the clubs.
Wood reacted angrily to this and said that in the event of the Players’ Union becoming involved, the Derry players would withdraw from the Union.
A season filled with drama had finally come to an end and Derry looked with trepidation towards an uncertain future. But one more major event took place. Athlone Town approached Derry City and asked for permission to interview Wood.
City reluctantly agreed, for they felt that in the prevailing position they could not stand in Doug’s way after 11 years of wonderful service. In July, Doug was appointed player-manager of Athlone. In his final season at the club, he scored two goals.
Gallery: Foyle Cycling Club Mizen to Malin Cycle 2022
32 members of Foyle Cycling Club completed a challenging five-day cycle from Mizen Head to Malin Head on June 22.
They were raising money for two great local charities: Foyle Search and Rescue and HURT. All donations greatly appreciated.
Donations can be made HERE.
Photographs courtesy of Marcas Ó Murchú.
Fergal Tuffy of the the Foyle Cycling Club.
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