4000 Holes

101 GREAT GOALS: BRYAN DOUGLAS

Monday, 27 May 2024
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For the last five years, 4,000 Holes has been establishing a ‘101 Great Goals’ collection, with submissions made by Rovers supporters. The great Bryan Douglas turns 90 today and so we are delighted to republish this entry from Fred Cumpstey about a special goal from Saturday 13th April 1963…

Back in the mist of time in the mid-1920s, Hughie Gallacher, that will-o'-the-wisp Scottish International centre forward, scored a wondrous goal for Newcastle United at Ewood which, by common consent, my Dad included, was the finest individual goal ever seen at the famous old ground. Those who witnessed that great goal were privileged indeed to see it surpassed by the mesmeric skills of that Rovers footballing genius, Bryan Douglas on Easter Saturday 1963. 

At that time the First Division Easter programme was extremely tight with 3 games in 4 days. On the previous day, Good Friday, also at Ewood, the Rovers had beaten Sheffield Wednesday 3–0 (McEvoy 2, Byrom). The result was only the Rovers' second win in fifteen games. Perhaps that disappointing run of results accounted for the gate of 14,361.

The two consecutive home games on consecutive days obviously didn’t meet with fans approval as a reduced attendance of 11,451 turned out for the visit of West Bromwich Albion. As it transpired, what a privilege it was to be there. In fact, to be frank and honest it was an honour and a privilege to watch Bryan Douglas any day of the week and we needn’t have been surprised to witness what he did that day, simply because the little maestro performed at the highest level week in week out. 

From his earliest appearances in a blue and white shirt, supporters became accustomed to him skipping past opponents with consummate ease and either laying the ball on a plate for others or finding the net himself.

Easter 1963 saw Douglas up the ante in style with a mesmerising slalom of a close control run that not only bewildered the Albion players but had the supporters gulping for air.

Douglas had already scored on the day from the penalty spot but on the 80th minute he picked up the ball on the wing on halfway and started his run. Two Albion players sensing the danger he carried were quickly on to him, only to be left in his wake as his deftness of touch and quick feet left them scrambling in the mud. Douglas next frustrated a fierce tackle by side-stepping the opponent with almost disdain as he picked up pace towards the penalty area.

Moving the ball at speed he completely foxed another would-be tackle and inside the box waltzed around that very able Welsh International full back Graham Williams as if he wasn’t there and then, in the minimum of space, the fastest feet in football, switched the ball from foot to foot before body swerving past both Stan Jones and Ian Fairfax, who both ended up on their backsides, before picking his spot past keeper Ray Potter with a fierce rising drive.

Ewood erupted at the skill and audacity of this wonder goal. Douglas was mobbed by his teammates. Stan Jones, the Albion skipper, one of those left floundering, shook Douglas by the hand, whilst the Albion players to a man, applauded Douglas all the way back to the centre circle. The crowd was in an increasingly heightened state of ecstasy and gave the pocket genius an emotional standing ovation.

It was Duggie’s moment (it always was Duggie’s moment) but to those of us who witnessed that goal, it was our moment too. It was football’s moment.

For me this wasn’t only the greatest of goals it was THE greatest individual goal I’ve ever witnessed at Ewood Park and only one man could have scored it – Bryan Douglas.

This article was originally published in Issue 108 of 4,000 Holes. Please consider buying a zine for just £2 here to help support this long-running piece of Rovers history – it is greatly appreciated by all of the contributors.

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