Douglas “Dally” Duncan (his nickname derived from his languid “dallying” style of play) was an Aberdeen-born outside left that joined the Tigers in August 1928 after impressing as a teenager for Scottish junior side Aberdeen Richmond. He made his debut for City six weeks before his 19th birthday at a time when teenagers were rarely exposed to first team action, such was the rough and tumble of the professional game. In that first season Duncan had spells in and out of Bill McCracken’s side as he found his feet. He contributed his first goal to the Tigers’ cause in November 1928, the third of four strikes as West Bromwich Albion were dispatched 4-1 at Anlaby Road.
Duncan developed rapidly and in November 1929 he returned to the first team and announced himself as a must-pick when he scored both goals in a 2-1 over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. From that moment onwards he rarely missed a game for two and a half seasons. He played a prominent role in City’s marvellous FA Cup run in 1929/30 that only came to a close amid controversial refereeing in a semi-final replay. Dally scored the vital winner in a 4-3 Third Round win at Plymouth, then scored the second goal in the semi-final to put the Tigers 2-0 up before opponents Arsenal clawed it back to 2-2. However the aftermath of a crushing semi-final replay defeat saw the Tigers embark on a winless streak in the league that ended in relegation to Division Three North – Duncan scored just one goal in the last 11 league games.
Duncan remained at Anlaby Road as the Tigers dropped into Division Three North, where his partnership with Stan Alexander proved highly productive. Duncan scored 18 league goals and Alexander added 24 more in 1930/31 season, but a run of only 4 wins in 16 league games between November 1930 and March 1931 ruined the superb start to the season and the Tigers finished sixth. That poor streak of form was made more remarkable by the fact that the 4 wins in those 16 games ended 5-1, 10-0, 8-2 and 4-0 – Dally Duncan scored six of the goals in those wins. In 1932/33 Haydn Green assumed the managerial reins from Bill McCracken and City again dominated for much of the season, Dally Duncan scoring 19 league goals by early March. However Duncan’s goalscoring exploits attracted the attention of clubs higher up the football league and the inevitable transfer happened in March 1932. City then suffered an immediate drop off in form and dropped away to finish the season 8th.
In March 1932 Duncan joined Derby County for a £2,000 fee. The Rams were dicing with relegation when Duncan joined, but pulled clear to finish 15th. In 1932/33 Derby were challenging at the other end of the table, finishing 5th and reaching Duncan’s second FA Cup semi final, which was narrowly lost 2-3 to Manchester City at Huddersfield’s Leeds Road ground. He remained at Derby for a further six seasons until the outbreak of World War Two, making over 200 appearances in that time. Derby finished runners-up in the First Division in 1935/36, the highest league position of Duncan’s playing career.
Duncan remained registered to Derby County throughout the wartime hostilities but played as a guest for Reading, Notts County and Nottingham Forest. He returned to Derby County in 1945/46, playing alongside future Tigers legend Raich Carter as the Rams won the FA Cup and Duncan claimed his only winners’ medal. He joined Luton Town immediately after that triumph and played two seasons in Division Two with the Hatters.
In June 1947 Duncan was appointed manager of Luton Town, a post he held for 11 years and four months. He managed the club for just over 500 senior matches and presided over promotion to the First Division in 1955. Duncan was appointed manager of newly promoted Blackburn Rovers in October 1958 and in two years he piloted Blackburn to First Division survival (twice) and reached the 1960 FA Cup Final, which was lost 0-3 to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Duncan left Blackburn after that final – just as he had left Derby on the same high 14 years earlier – and ended his footballing career. Duncan subsequently managed a guest house in Brighton for many years, which is where he died in January 1990.
Duncan was a Scottish international forward with an enviable goal record. He first played for Scotland in October 1932, shortly after joining Derby County from Hull City, scoring a late debut goal in a 2-5 reverse against Wales. In total he scored 7 goals in 14 games for Scotland, most notably a brace against England in April 1935 that sealed a 2-0 victory over the auld enemy. He made his final appearance for Scotland in October 1937.
Date/Place of Birth: 14 October 1909, Aberdeen
Hull City First Game: 3 September 1928, Oldham Athletic A (Division Two), 18 years, 325 days old
Hull City Final Game: 5 March 1932, Tranmere Rovers H (Division Three North), 22 years, 143 days old
Aberdeen Richmond (1927-1928), Hull City (1928-1932), Derby County (1932-1946), Luton Town (1946-1948)
Hull City Record
Career: 122 apps, 50 goalsDally Duncan