Rovers’ Greatest Heroes: Bryan Douglas

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An England international that formed an incredible partnership down the right for club and country with fellow Rovers legend Ronnie Clayton, Bryan Douglas had it all.

Born less than half a mile from the end of Ewood Park that now bears his name, Douglas made his Rovers debut in 1952 when Rovers were plotting how to escape the Second Division. As he, Clayton and the likes of Roy Vernon and Peter Dobing gained more experience, Rovers were able to finish in the top 10 of Division Two in five consecutive seasons, eventually winning promotion in 1958.

It was Douglas’ form in that promotion-winning season that brought him to the attention of the England selectors who were on the lookout for a winger who could both supply and score goals. He made his England debut against Wales in 1957 and made enough of an impression to make the 1958 World Cup squad in Sweden. Douglas played in every game in that World Cup, as he also did in the 1962 tournament in Chile. In all Douglas won 36 England caps, scoring 10 goals.

After 503 Rovers appearances and 115 goals, Douglas retired in 1969. A true one-club man, his legendary status cemented by the club when they renamed the Darwen End in his honour.

The Lancashire Evening Telegraph ran a series of articles in 2009 on Bryan Douglas’ life story. This series of articles by Andy Cryer spoke to Bryan himself about his life, achievements with Rovers and England and are an absolutely wonderful read. They certainly do a far better job than I could hope to do in discussing the great man. However, in typical LET style, I can only access Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 5 of the piece. Day 4 I presume have been lost in the nether but I will post the links to the articles below, they are well worth a read.

Day 1; Day 2; Day 3; Day 5

His Legendary Moment

Listening to Douglas you would have to say his Thomas’ Medals won from representing the Bus Depot in the 1950s were his crowning moments! But for the general public, his England career would probably take precedence.

His legendary moment probably came on his third cap against Scotland. It was a Home Championship fixture and Douglas used this opportunity to score his third England goal in his third appearance. He became the first player to score in his first three caps (after scoring against Switzerland and Brazil).

His Legacy

It would probably be fair to say that since the days of Ronnie Clayton and Douglas that Rovers fans have had a special regard for partnerships down the right-hand side.

No partnership will ever come close to the longevity of that pair but the fact that the title-winning side in 1995 had such a strong partnership of Henning Berg and Stuart Ripley and yet very few Rovers fans would think of them over Clayton/Douglas goes to show the affection they are held in. Ripley himself is held in high esteem by Rovers fans and would be the closest we have had since the 1960s to replicating Douglas’ effect on the side.

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