Tales Of Tough Times On Distant European Travels
Derek Dougan would have smiled at the welcoming fan camps, the fabulous grounds and even the cappuchino-quarter choice that are marking England’s challenge in the European Championships.
Visiting such far-flung corners of the continent was a different experience altogether in The Doog’s day – guaranteed to quickly induce pangs of homseickness.
The well-travelled forward played for Northern Ireland in both Poland and Moscow in the tournament, albeit only the qualifying rounds, doing so initially when it was known as the European Nations Cup.
And the trips behind the Iron Curtain provided good material, even into his later years, when – as so often – he was in story-telling mode.
The 1971 qualifier away to the USSR was his second time in Moscow and his grumbles extended far beyond his country’s 1-0 defeat.
“The food was not good,” he wrote in one of his books. “We would be kept waiting for it and when it arrived, it was never what we had ordered.”
The 1962 game in the same championships in Katowice brought different observations, far removed from the freedom England’s players are currently enjoying around their base in Krakow city centre.
“The interpreter didn’t want the players drifting off in ones and twos,” he added. “He wanted the players to stay with him all the while and leave the social side of our stay to him.”
Dougan, who passed away five years ago next weekend, made ten of his 43 senior international appearances in this tournament, the one in Poland bringing a 2-0 victory in which he scored.
In the Euros, he also netted the last and the penultimate of his eight Northern Ireland goals – home and away against Cyprus in 1971.
Although always denied a trip to the finals, he did sample life on the big international stage at the start of his career. His debut for his country came against Czechoslovakia in the Swedish city of Halmstad during the 1958 World Cup finals.
He also once missed a World Cup qualifying defeat against West Germany in Hamburg in 1961 after a fracas with a marker in a friendly against Greece in Athens a week earlier.
The much-loved former Wolves striker played international football alongside several other men with Molineux conections, among them Peter McParland, David Clements, Danny Hegan and Bertie Lutton.
And his huge array of admirers will soon have the chance to read much more about him.
‘In Sunshine Or In Shadow; A Journey Through The Life Of Derek Dougan’ has been written by David Tossell and promises ‘unprecedented access to family members.’ It is out in early August.