Dougie Johnson

This year sees DAFC support the UK’s Black History Month Campaign for first time since this the event was started in 1987. The campaign seeks to promote inclusion and does so by celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black people both in this country and beyond. 

To mark this occasion the club sought to celebrate the contribution to football of black people in this country by looking back on the life and career of one of our own in the shape of former Pars first team coach Dougie Johnson who, we believe to have been one of the first Black coaches in Scottish football when he worked for the club alongside Pat Stanton from 1980-1982.

Andrew Watson is credited with being the very first pioneer for Black footballers having played for Scotland in the 1870’s however incredibly, far from opening any floodgates, there were very few black players in our game till almost a century later. 

Dougie is still regarded as a player who helped break the mould and was one of the first of a trickle of black players to play senior football in this country. The recognition, the very humble Dougie, receives for this is not something he dwells on and is quick to play down the role he played in opening doors for others.

During the close season DAFC welcomed Dougie back to KDM Group East End Park with his wife Nancy and good friend Donald Simpson.

They met with club EDI Ambassador Graham Ross and club director Drew Main and were given a tour of the stadium. Both Dougie and Nancy had nothing but fond memories of Dougie’s time at the club and afterwards Dougie kindly agreed to an interview with Graham to reflect both on his time at the club and also his feelings upon been seen as a pioneer for black footballers and coaches during an era where black players were yet to become a regular fixture in our game. Dougie spoke well about the club, its fans and the small matter of him and Pat unearthing a real gem in the shape of club icon, Norrie McCathie.

GR- Tell us a bit about your career Dougie

DJ- I played football for many years and absolutely loved it. I had trials for Arsenal and Southampton where I played in the same team as Martin Chivers before playing senior in Scotland for St Mirren, Brechin City and Albion Rovers. I later played in the East of Scotland for teams such as Gala Fairydean, Hawick Royal Albert and Eyemouth United and then junior side West Calder United. Once my career finished I moved into coaching. After football I worked in pub management and hospitality. 

GR- How did a young lad from Edinburgh end up playing at Brechin? 

DJ- I was released by St Mirren after only a season as I’d spent most of it injured. Brechin was a chance to kick start my career and make up for lost time. I always knew I could have a career as a professional player.

GR- How do you reflect on your career? 

DJ- I was disappointed with the way things went at St Mirren but loved my time at Brechin and then at Albion Rovers where I played in the same team as Tony Green who went on to play with Blackpool and Newcastle United as well as earning 6 caps for Scotland. I just loved the thrill of playing and didn’t mind at all moving down to Junior football later in my career. I played with some great players in my time. I also played for Scotland Juveniles with Peter Cormack who ended up playing for Hibs, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Scotland. I loved football and the people I’ve met.

GR- I know one of your best friends in Football was ex Pars manager, not to mention Hibs and Celtic Legend, Pat Stanton. How did that friendship come about? 

DJ- We were pals at school then went our separate ways before meeting up later in life. I ended up working in a few of Pats pubs and always had a fantastic relationship with him.

GR- Older Pars fans will remember you from your time here as First team coach when Pat was manager. I’ve spoken to your wife who loved the time you were here. What are your memories of that time? 

DJ- I really enjoyed my time at Dunfermline Athletic working with Pat, George Stewart and the players. It was such a friendly club and the staff and fans were brilliant. Dunfermline Athletic is a real community club and the people in the town (now a city Dougie) got right behind the club. The atmosphere on match days was great and everyone made me feel very welcome. It really was a fabulous club to be associated with.

GR- History tells us that it was during your time here with Pat that club legend Norrie McCathie was brought to the club. What are your recollections of Norrie? 

DJ- I knew Norrie McCathie as a young player from Edinburgh and heard good things about him. Pat had him watched a few times and we decided to sign him. He was a true leader of men and was a great person to have in the dressing room to inspire others. He was brave and would help teammates to improve their game. It came as no surprise to watch Norrie become one of Dunfermline Athletic’s greatest players. 

GR- You are still regarded as a pioneer for Black players in Scottish Football. You played at a time where there had been no black players at all for several decades. Many say you helped pave the way for others. How aware of that were you at the time? 

DJ- I wasn’t really, it’s not something I thought about. My colour didn’t bother me in fact I used to call myself a Scotsman with a suntan. My colour was not a problem. If anyone else had a problem with it then it was their problem. All the teams I played for were always great with me. 

GR- Did you have any difficulties with other teams and fans? 

DJ- It was never difficult as all I wanted to do was play football. My personality and character helped me get on with people and I never had any difficulty at any club I played for and enjoyed playing for all of them. I never saw myself as being any different from anyone else. 

GR- Did you remain in football once you left Dunfermline? 

DJ- Yes, I remained in coaching and worked at Tynecastle Boys Club. One of the kids I coached who went on and made it was Ralph Callaghan, he had a great career with Hearts, Hibs and Newcastle United.

GR- Thanks for your time Dougie. I hope you enjoy your day as guest of the club in the game against Arbroath.

Dougie will be attending the home fixture Vs Arbroath as a guest of the club and I’d ask you all to give him a warm KDM Group East End Park welcome.

If you would like to get involved and discover more about black history, you will find a full listing of events and exhibitions taking place across the UK on the official Black History Month website

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