Date: 29th August 2011 at 4:27pm
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The popular ‘Getting to Know’ series featured on Vital Blackburn has taken in many an unsuspecting soul – VBers worldwide and current first team players such as Morten Gamst Pedersen and Jason Lowe have been under the microscope.

But never before have we spoken to a proper legend of the blue and white community. Until now.

VBer St Jimmy promised us a little surprise and after a few boy has our guy delivered. Here’s the results (cup of tea at the ready)…

Bryan Douglas, a true Blackburn Rovers legend who along with Ronnie Clayton spent his entire career at Ewood Park.

I was lucky enough to have met Ronnie Clayton on many occasions, but Bryan had always alluded me. Until one day a friend of mine said they went to the same church as him. I quickly asked if it would be possible for them to ask him if he`d like to do a Q and A for Vital.

I didn`t expect a yes or no… Then almost a month later, I received a direct message on Twitter informing me that yes indeed the legend would like to speak, so I rang him to arrange a meeting.

We agreed after 2-3 phone calls to meet before the Everton game.

Unfortunately as Bryan was still having his dinner, I thought it best to leave the questions with him and so here are the results:

As a young schoolboy, what made you enter the world of football?

From being a small schoolboy I enjoyed both playing and watching football and by the time I was 9 I had played for St Bartholomew`s School on Ewood Park in a Schools final. (School Finals were played on Ewood Park in those days)

In fact before I left school at fifteen I had played on Ewood Park about 8 times both for the school and the town team. When I was fourteen I was picked to play for the Town schoolboy team and from there I was invited for trials with the Rovers.

However, my father insisted that I should have a trade and when I was fifteen I started work at the Bus Depot at Intack but on Saturdays I regularly played for the Rovers 4th team and occasionally the 3rd team. However after about 20 months because I was repeatedly asking for time off to play for various Rovers teams (they had a midweek team in those days) I was told by my employers that I had to make my mind up what I wanted my future to be.

This coincided with the manager at that time Jackie Bestall wanting me to join the Ground Staff at Ewood Park and so in May 1951 shortly before my 17th birthday I did join the ground staff. Apart from training with 1st and 2nd team players we had to clean all the boots also the dressing room sweep the stands and help the grounds man with all kinds of odd jobs. The other 2 members of the ground staff at that time with Ron and I were Jimmy O`Donnell and Alan Bean

Describe your first manager at Rovers?

My first manager was Jackie Bestall but because most of his time he was involved with the first team I saw very little of him.

At this time I was regularly playing in Reserve and third teams and a few months later I was called up to do my National Service which was for 2 years and it was during this time that Bestall left and Johnny Carey became manager and of course I was at that time just another name and he really never saw me play during the 2 years I was doing my National Service. It was after I finished my National Service that Carey gave me a chance in the first team this was in 1955 against Stoke City.

By the end of that season I had played for England B v Switzerland and had been picked for the summer tour with the England under 23 team

What is your best memory of playing for Blackburn Rovers?

There was so many for example scoring my first goal at Ewood against Stoke. The first time that I was picked for my Country: Scoring with a header against Scotland at Hampden Park in front of 120000 spectators: Getting promotion after our win at Charlton: Playing in 2 World Cup competitions and if I had not got a bad injury in 1965 I may have been a member of the 1966 world cup winners.

They were all great memories which I still treasure but to play for your country must be top of the list.

What memory would you rather forget? I`m taking a guess at the 1960 FA Cup Final?

Of course the Cup Final was very disappointing with most of the team feeling that we had let ourselves and the town down but of course on reflection we played most of the game with 10 men with Whelan`s broken leg but really it was 9 men because Dougan was not really fit and should not have played especially as there were no subs in those days.

Another very big disappointment was when we got beat in the1958 semi final by Bolton and was a game we really should have won. Of course Bolton went on to win the Final that year.

You played in two World Cups, which must`ve been a big honour to represent your country?

World Cup: 1958 was in Sweden and I was relatively a new boy in the team but the biggest blow is that in February of that year we lost 3 great players Edwards, Byrne & Taylor from Man U through the Munich Disaster.

We lost to Russia in a play-off which would have took us to the next stage and Brazil went on to win the World Cup, In the Prelim we made a draw with them. This is when Pele came on the scene

World Cup: 1962 was in Chile and this time we were knocked out in the second phase by Brazil who again went on to win it But it is very difficult to play in this competition after the end our own season. For example in 1958 Rovers eventually got promotion from the 2nd division but it took a lot out of us with every game from Christmas being like a Cup Tie. It is very difficult to re-charge the batteries to play in the World Cup 2 or 3 weeks later which did not happen in most other countries: Having said that I am very proud that I played in the World Cup on 2 occasions.

Who was the best player you have played against, for both Rovers and England?

Again I played against so many excellent players but without doubt the best I played against for Rovers was Sir Tom Finney.

He was a fantastic player and his record speaks for itself and he could play in any of the forward line positions.

Also the most important thing is that he was gentleman on and off the field

At international level there were many great fullbacks from around the World and it is difficult to pick any one out Eric Caldow of Scotland was as good as most.

Some of the well known one of that time I usually found that I was successful against them.

When you retired from playing, you became a Sales Executive for a local paper manufacturer, how similar were the two working environments?

After I retired I had to find a new way of making a living and after trying a couple of things I eventually though a friend and the generosity of the Managing Director Mr Olander, I got a job at Star Paper as it was then and I had to learn a lot of new skills but my experience of playing football and meeting people etc proved to be very helpful.

I worked there for 18 years and met and made an all lot of new friends and was very happy there.

Unfortunately nowadays, players seem to be motivated by money; do you think the days are gone where players used to play for one club for either most of their careers or all of it, like yourself and Ronnie?

Gone are the days when a player will stay with one club his entire career unless that club is one of the top money clubs (Chelsea, Man City, Man United) other clubs just cannot afford to pay their players the same wages which is a pity but I am afraid it is a fact of life.

I am sure like me you did not want Jones to leave but he will be on 3 or 4 times more money than we could pay plus the chance to play with a top club.

I know that I myself could have gone to a so called bigger club but in those days the wages were the same whoever you played for and as my wife and I were born in Blackburn I was happy to stay.

The owners have recently announced that the Blackburn End is to be renamed The Ronnie Clayton End, what a great tribute to a wonderful man. Can you tell us more about your friendship with him? Did you immediately become friends when you first met?

I first met Ron when as I explained earlier I joined the Rovers after leaving school but where as I worked elsewhere Ron went straight onto the ground staff from school.

However I did play in the B Team a couple of times early that first season but Ron then was very quickly promoted to the reserve side and near the end of that season he made his debut against Q P R.

The following season he became a regular in the 1st Team and it took me 3 more years to catch up with him by which time he was also playing for his country. However it was a few years later that both of our families became good friends which resulted in our 2 families along with other Rovers players regularly going on holiday together after which we gradually with our wife`s started see more of each other socially and that lasted right up to Ron`s and my wife`s death.

Even now Ron`s wife Val and I continue to attend the Rovers together and occasionally because we have mutual friends see one another at some of our friend`s homes.

With regard to Ron he was a very obliging person and likable person and did not like to let anyone down whether it was signing his autograph or helping with some charity or other. Like me he was very proud to

play for his country especially as Captain and to have played so many times for his club. He was also very proud family man and loved his wife and family very much.

You still go to as many games as you can, who is your favourite player for Rovers?

There have been so many changes since last season that I am still coming to terms with the present team`s names. If I had to choose it would be DUNN but I feel he is coming to the end of being a Premiership player mainly because of all the injuries he has had over last 2 or 3 years. Hoilett can develop into a very good player let`s hope so but if he does like Jones other big clubs will be after him.

Rovers are under a period of uncertainty at the moment, do you believe we will ride the storm and become more of a success in the future?

Who can tell? As I write this we have lost our first 3 matches and unless we get our act together I fear that we may have a very difficult season.

I have not had a chance to really make my mind up about the recent signings though I like the Scots lad Goodwillie but like many other supporters I am keeping my fingers crossed in the hope they can win a few games for us and take us away from the bottom of the league, time will tell.

Any last comments you may wish to add?

Finally I can only hope that these new people provide the funds etc as they promised they would when they first took over to strengthen the present team so that we can be more competitive on the field and get away from the bottom positions.

Don’t hold your breath.

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