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Johnny Douglas






Johnny Douglas at the 1908 OlympicsJohn "Johnny" William Henry Tyler Douglas (3 September 1882 - 19 December 1930) was a cricketer who was captain of the England team and an Olympic boxer.

John William Henry Tyler [Johnny] Douglas, (1882–1930), was at 2 Stamford Terrace, Stamford Hill, London, the elder son of John Herbert Douglas (1853–1930), timber merchant, and his wife, Julia Ann, née Tyler. His father combined a successful career as a businessman—he was head of the City-based family firm—with that of an influential sports administrator, being a member of the National Sporting Club, president of the Amateur Boxing Association, and chairman of the Club Cricket Conference.

Douglas was the son of Johnny H Douglas and was born at Stoke Newington, London in what is now Belfast Road. He was educated at Felsted School and joined his father's wood-importing firm, which supported his amateur status in cricket and boxing. Douglas also played football once for the England amateur side (occasion unknown, through loss of records). He served in the Bedfordshire Regiment throughout World War I, eventually as major (acting lieutenant-colonel).

Douglas was an excellent Middleweight boxer becoming Olympic champion at the 1908 Games held in London. All his three bouts were on the same day, and the final required a fourth round to find a winner. Australian supporters of the silver medal winner, Snowy Baker, often claim that Douglas' father was the referee and sole judge, but Douglas Sr was there merely to present medals, and had no part in the actual judging. Douglas Jr, his father and his younger brother, Cecil ('Pickles') were all prominent referees and officials in the A.B.A., the last also being the leading referee in the professional sport in the 1930s.

Olympic results
Defeated René Doudelle (France) KO 1
2nd round bye
Defeated Ruben Warnes (Great Britain) KO 2
Defeated Snowy Baker (Australia) 2-0

Douglas was an untiring fast-medium bowler and obdurate batsman who was nicknamed with a play on his initials JWHTD "Johnny Won't Hit Today" by Australian hecklers. He captained the school teams at Felsted and was a member of Wanstead C.C. He played for Essex in 1902 and for London County in 1903. In 1904 he returned to Essex where he remained, captaining the side from 1911 to 1928. He played for England before and after the first world war. Douglas was named as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1915, but play was suspended during the war years. After the war until 1923 had to carry Essex's bowling on his shoulders except when George Louden turned out. He took over 100 wickets in a season seven times with a best of 147 in 1920. The following year against Derbyshire he produced perhaps the most remarkable all-round performance in cricket history. After taking nine for 47, Douglas stopped a breakdown against Bill Bestwick with an unbeaten 210 that tired him so much he did not bowl until the end of Derbyshire's second innings. He then took two for none, giving him a match record of eleven for 47.

Douglas captained England eighteen times, with a Test match record of won eight, lost eight, drawn two. Successful as stand-in captain in Australia in 1911, he won the series 4-1. On the 1920/21 tour of Australia he led a depleted post-war side which suffered a 0–5 'whitewash', a scoreline not repeated until the 2006/7 England lost by the same margin. Reappointed reluctantly by the M.C.C. in 1921, he lost the first two Tests at home to Warwick Armstrong's side and was displaced as captain but retained in the XI. He captained England in one further Test match, against South Africa in July 1924, and played his final Test on the 1924/25 England tour of Australia.

Douglas married Evelyn Ruby Case, the widowed sister of two of his close wartime friends, on 25 December 1916. He had no children but one stepson.

He drowned when the Oberon, on which he and his father were travelling, was wrecked seven miles south of the Laeso Trindel Lightship, Denmark. It had collided with a sister-vessel in foggy weather when the two captains who were brothers were attempting to exchange Christmas greetings. According to a witness at the post mortem inquiry, Douglas may well have been trying to save his father. They had been purchasing timber in Finland. He was aged 48.

JWHT Douglas     Signature John and JuliaJohnny's parents, John and Julia Douglas



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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024