A Kick Where It Hurts
Doog Delight – But With A Nasty Aftermath
April has already contained one high-profile London trip for Wolves. Another outing to the fringes of the capital awaits with their Premier League game against Watford in ten days’ time.
Heading to the south-east in this month of the year might have brought Derek Dougan out in a cold sweat several decades ago as a result of an unfortunate altercation that forms a painful part of Molineux history.
Ronnie Allen’s Wolves were into the final stretch of their successful 1966-67 Second Division promotion journey when they set off for the clash with Millwall at the Londoners’ old Den ground.
Pitches then were nothing like as good as they now are and what were sometimes mudbaths in winter dried out to become bare, bouncy
surfaces in the spring.
This particular venue in the docklands had what we might call a daunting uniqueness, so the fixture was seen as a possible accident in the making for the Division Two high-fliers.
Clive Corbett’s 2007 book Those Were The Days let us in on the intimidating scene, in particular through the comments of Phil Parkes.
“Cold Blow Lane, as it was known, was frightening,” the then rookie keeper was quoted as saying. “Just its reputation.
“The pegs in the dressing room were so high that even I had to stand on a bench to hang my clothes up. The first thing you think is, ‘F…in hell, they’ve got some big lads here!’
“There was no grass on the pitch. It was a dust bowl and every time I went down, it took the skin off my nose.”
Wolves were trailing to a goal by the brawny Len Juliens and their last hope of even a point appeared to have gone when Dave Wagstaffe missed a penalty in the absence of regular taker Terry Wharton.
But the celebrations of most of the 23,908 April Fool’s Day crowd were stifled in the dying seconds when Dougan’s mis-hit attempt bobbled off a Millwall defender into the net.
A spectator immediately ran on to the pitch, pursued by a policeman, who was not quick enough to prevent the Doog receiving a surprise kick between the legs.
The ‘surprise’ element came about because the well-dressed intruder had a gold and black scarf – no wonder Bobby Thomson, John Holsgrove and Waggy looked shocked on the Daily Mirror photo I used in a When Football Was Football Wolves book several years ago that shows the Ulsterman grappling with the jacketed hooligan.
Parkes added in Those Were The Days: “This guy came past me from behind the goal and ran with his arms out. When he came to Derek, he kicked him in the balls! He was a Millwall supporter with a Wolves scarf on.”
While sympathetic to the discomfort of their team-mate at the end of their 1-1 draw, several Wolves players have recalled the incident humorously over the years.
There is also a very serious side, though, of course – one brought back into focus by the attack on Villa’s Jack Grealish in the Birmingham derby at St Andrew’s earlier this year.