Final tribute to 'giant of Brandywell', Derry City legend Dougie Wood

DERRY CITY's legendary Irish League winning midfielder Dougie Wood was described as a 'giant' of Brandywell Stadium whose footballing talent brought 'tremendous joy and happiness' to the people of the city.

By Simon Collins
Monday, 6th June 2022, 5:09 pm
Updated Monday, 6th June 2022, 5:11 pm
The late Derry City captain Dougie Wood pictured with Benfica and Portugal legend and icon, Eusébio when Benfica arrived at Brandywell in 1989.
The late Derry City captain Dougie Wood pictured with Benfica and Portugal legend and icon, Eusébio when Benfica arrived at Brandywell in 1989.

The former Candy Stripes captain, who died peacefully at his home in Lifford on Friday, aged 82, spent 11 seasons with the Brandywell club from July 1961 until 1972 when Derry were expelled from the Irish League.

The Scotsman was part of the famous 1964 Irish Cup winning team and also won the club's only ever Irish League Championship title the following season.

In fact Dougie remarkably was one of just four players, alongside Billy Cathcart, his midfield partner Jimmy McGeough and Jimbo Crossan, to play in all 43 league fixtures that memorable campaign!

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Dougie Wood pictured with the rest of the Derry City team who won the Irish Cup in 1964.

When Derry wrapped up the title that season with a 5-0 win against Ards at Brandywell, Dougie incredibly played in his 176th consecutive game for Derry since signing for the club - a staggering statistic and a reflection of his athleticism and his character!

As he was laid to rest today, the funeral of the former defensive midfielder heard that Dougie was 'a tremendous athlete of his time' who brought much success to Derry City Football Club at Derry's 'cathedral of football' in Brandywell.

The funeral cortège made its way from Longtower church, down 'The Folly' and towards the Lone Moor Road where it poignantly stopped outside the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium where Dougie represented Derry City with such distinction for over a decade.

Celebrant, Father Michael Canny told mourners at the funeral mass held in St Columba's Church, Longtower on Monday morning, how Dougie emigrated to Ireland from the East coast of Scotland as a 21 year-old in 1961 and brought much happiness to the people of Derry during those 'bleak and dark and challenging days for the people that lived here.'

The late Dougie Wood pictured during his playing days at Derry City.

"We gather together today because the Lord gave to this man, Dougie Wood, a gift and a talent that brought joy and happiness to many people," began Fr. Canny.

"We gather together here at the Longtower Church which is only a short stone's throw from the cathedral of football here in this city. We return to the Lord a giant on that playing surface.

"Dougie, of course, made this place special for himself and indeed his home. He brought tremendous joy and happiness to so many people at a very difficult and challenging time in the history of this city.

"If we look back at the city in the 50s and 60s, as many as 12 percent of the young men in this city had to emigrate to find gainful employment. Of course Dougie came in the opposite direction. He was born in February 1940 in the East coast of Scotland and he signed to play for Derry City Football Club in 1961.

"Frank Curran, the man who was the great authority on the history of Derry City Football Club and of course other matters, wrote that when Willie Ross, the then manager of Derry City Football Club, signed the 21 year-old Douglas Wood from Raith Rovers it was his first signing and it was his best. And that certainly is some accolade.

"In his second game, I'm told, he scored and in that first season he scored a further nine goals for the club. In his 11 years at this club here at Derry City, he brought much success to the club and also much joy and happiness in those bleak and dark and challenging days for the people that lived here."

Once tracked by Halifax and Ipswich Town, then managed by 1966 World Cup winning manager with England Alf Ramsey, Dougie ultimately never got the chance to play in England much to Derry City's benefit. However, he went on to enjoy brief spells at Sligo and Shelbourne where he played alongside former Celtic great, Jimmy Johnstone, for a short time.

He took up a role as player manager at Athlone Town and eventually retired from the game in 1978.

"In 1964 the (Irish Cup) final against Glentoran, he was absolutely magnificent and we are told he was a great menace to the opposition," continued Fr. Canny. "He was 'here there and everywhere', to quote Frank Curran. Of course the highs of his career was when Derry City played FK Lyn of Norway and over the two legs beat that side, the first Irish teams to do it (win a round in European competition).

"He was a great athlete. He was playing in winter time and in dark evenings on wet pitches and with heavy boots and big leather balls we can't imagine these days. And he had, I'm told, 176 consecutive games without injury or anything else so he must've been a tremendous athlete of his time. He used the gifts and the talent the Lord gave him to bring joy.

"He went on in other capacities to other places and clubs and brought young people a love of the game and developed them as well. So he used his great gift the Lord had given to him.

"Today we thank God for that gift and talent and we can be confident that he will appear before the Lord and say, 'Lord, you gave me a gift, you gave me a talent. I used it to the best of my ability' and of course for his own good, the good of his family and friends and for the good of the wider community.'

Current Derry City manager, Ruaidhri Higgins also paid his respects to the club's legend this morning and commented on Dougie's 'unbelievable' service.

"He was at Derry for 11 years and the service he gave the club was unbelievable," said Higgins. "To play so many consecutive games for Derry, it's unheard of really, so he was obviously a fantastic athlete and enjoyed really good success at the club.

"It was obviously before my time but I was always well aware of the contribution he made to the club and a player that gives that amount of service to a club is few and far between in the modern game."

At the weekend Derry City Football Club paid their own tribute to the late Dougie with the following statement on their social media channels.

"Derry City FC is deeply saddened to learn today of the death of our former captain, Dougie Wood aged 82. The Sottish defensive midfielder arrived at the Brandywell in 1961 as a fresh-faced 21-year old and was a key member of the teams that won the Irish Cup in 1963/64 and the Irish League the following season.

"On behalf of everyone involved with the club we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the entire family circle at this very sad time."

May he rest in peace.