A picture and a thousand words…


As a young teenager in the Lancashire town of St Helens, Douggie would go to dances at Boundary Road baths where the pool would be covered by boards to form a dance floor. When the dance finished, Douggie and Vera, the girl who would eventually become his wife, would call at the Nag’s Head, known locally as the ‘Bottom Nogs’, for a drink on their way home.

In 1946 Douggie swapped his quick-step for a side-step when he signed for St Helens Rugby League Football Club (Saints). Douggie attained iconic status playing for the team from 1946 until 1959. A British Lion, he will go down in history as one of the toughest players ever to don a Saints shirt. As a centre, famed for his bone crunching tackles and split second timing, Douggie had the knack to release his wing-man with inch perfect passing, an ability that helped Saints win the Championship trophies in 1953 and 1959 along with the Challenge Cup in 1956.

It was Douggie who nurtured the talents of Springbok Karel ‘Tom’ van Vollenhoven, however, when asked who was the best player he ever played alongside he said: “Steve Llewellyn. He did everything that Vol did but ten years earlier!”

Douggie and Steve played together in 151 games from 1948 to 1957. In his playing days Douggie would entertain his team-mates with renditions of the Al Jolson classic, ‘Mammy’ and his sharp sense of humour kept the team in great spirit when playing at home or away.

When I called to take this photograph in November 2007 he recalled the story when he was sharing a room in Keswick with another Saints stalwart, Stan McCormick, whilst representing Lancashire against Cumbria at Workington: “I had a terrible ear-ache and Stan said, ‘I’ve got just the thing for that’. He poured a cap of rum down my ear. On the morning of the game it felt worse so Stan took me to the local hospital. The doctor took one look down my ear and asked if I’d been drinking!”