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Dougie’s pre-season memories

Rovers legend Bryan reflects on what pre-season training was like some 60 years ago

19 June 2019

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Some 65 years ago, Bryan Douglas was limbering up for his first Rovers pre-season.

The club legend, who made his debut against Notts County in September 1954, would complete 15 pre-seasons with Rovers, en route to racking up a staggering 503 appearances during a distinguished career.

As the current crop of Rovers stars prepare for a return to Brockhall on Monday, the wily winger admits pre-season training in his day was a far cry from what the players are used to today.

“It was very, very hard,” said Douglas, who was inducted in the Rovers Hall of Fame in February.

“We didn’t have the facilities that the club have now, so to begin with, in the first week, we were out on the roads, running about 25 miles a day, just to get our stamina back.

“I always used to dread the first two or three weeks, but it had to be done.

“Pre-season was very, very important. That first week, it was a killer. We used to run miles and miles and miles on the roads, but it was necessary.

“You were always a bit stiff at the end, but glad that you’d done it.

“Running up and down the steps at Ewood was part of it, but we used to go out on the roads and run from the ground right up to Queen’s Park Hospital and all round there.

“I felt like going in the hospital sometimes, I tell you!”

Several Rovers players, including Charlie Mulgrew and Corry Evans, will be given some extra time off, having been involved in Euro 2020 qualifiers with Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.

Going away on international duty during the close season was something Dougie was well-accustomed to, having earned 36 caps for England and played at two World Cups.

The 85-year-old admits he would still try to squeeze in some down time with his family during the summer break, but would always have half an eye on the return to training.

“What people don’t realise, the season doesn’t finish if you’re playing for your country,” he added.

“For about five or six years, I’d be with the England team and whilst my Rovers team-mates finished playing in the second week in May, it would be well into June before I got a holiday.

“There was World Cups and there was trips, so my philosophy was to let my wife choose wherever she wanted to go on holiday and it was usually on a cruise.

“We went away on holidays, but we tried to look after ourselves. You were always mindful that the season wasn’t too far away, but we let ourselves go a little bit.”

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