To begin this appreciation of the life of Doug Murgatroyd, John Child introduces him by saying – “Doug was a very industrious producer of informative articles for the OC’s newsletters in the past. All of the documents produced by Doug were logged in the O.C’s records some years ago and will be held at the Record Office and found in Alan Green’s excellent index documentation.
He was also an enthusiastic Chairman of the committee and it is such a shame that his health changed so tragically with the strokes he incurred.”
Doug was born on 8th March 1943, but we remember him in the autumn of 1954 when he joined Chichester High School for Boys. Academically he was in the top stream and achieved in due course O levels in Eng.Lang, F & M while in IVR followed by Eng.Lit, L, HB, HF, R, G & GS an impressive 11 O levels in total. Then through the sixth form and A levels in F, H & G.
Richard Wood-Kneller remembers a story from the second form when our classroom was the Geography Room. “For my part, I remember how Doug was appointed by 2A to present Dutch Holland with a bowl of fruit after his dice with TB. He was astonished that Dutch broke down in tears at this kind thought by his class.”
He left school at the end of the Spring term in 1962 having accepted a place to study Social Sciences at St Andrews University. Before going up to Scotland, he worked in the summer term as an assistant master at Etoncourt School, Bognor Regis.
Doug was a prefect during his time in the sixth form but many of us will remember him for his sporting prowess. He was in the first XV at Rugby in 1961 and 1962, a prop in the engine room of the scrum. Tony Whitton was hooker, with Keith Upton as his partner in the front row. Keith adds: “Doug was enthusiastic and trained hard. Scrum cap, large shorts and into battle he went. We were well drilled and in those days had a good understanding of what needed to be done in the engine room, and where we needed to be, the end result of which was getting the ball so our backline could do the flashy parts. Doug was a valuable member of our team and for whatever reason, I remember him smiling a lot……pure enjoyment I guess.”
Pen pictures from that time printed in The Martlet are:
1961 – DM left prop (1 try). A very hard-working forward who has trained well throughout the season. His general loose play is good and he is a most determined runner, but still has much to learn about the set scrum.
1962 – DM – right prop is a hard scrummager who always gives his best on or off the field. He informs us that his try was the high point of the season. Perhaps it was.
To demonstrate his whole-hearted approach to the game, Alan Polson, highly talented fly-half and captain, is quoted of a match v Portsmouth Grammar (rarely beaten by Chi High). “In arrears by 3 points, Portsmouth literally threw everything into the attack – a fact confirmed by Doug Murgatroyd who was found prostrate in a remote corner of the field muttering to himself something about a kitchen sink!
At cricket he was equally enthusiastic – an enthusiastic and aggressive shot playing batsman and rumbustious seam bowler. He was in the first eleven for two years 1960 and 1961 and once again Frank Haill’s pen pictures sum up his ability and shortcomings.
1960 – DM Frank comments – “he needs time to build up an innings by exercising patience and concentration to have a good sight of the ball”. Doug was a bit impetuous and Frank’s advice could apply to any young cricketer learning the game. As a contrast, I was a model of defensive concentration – Trevor Bailey like but was much more limited in run-scoring ability.
1961 – DM – Now in his second year in the XI, he has often promised much without ever making the large score of which he has seemed capable. He has had a more successful season and has played some useful innings, but will do even better when he allies discretion with his ability to hit hard.
Doug graduated from St Andrews in 1965. Among his employment opportunities was teaching Geography and Modern Studies at Westwood School, Glasgow from 1966 -1967. Geography and Economics followed this at Wrekin College from 1970-1971. In 1974 he was an Instructing Officer in the Royal Navy – HMS Caledonia as Upper Yardman lecturer, HMS Nelson RNSETT teacher training and then HMS Chawton as Boarding Officer. From 1976 to 1991 he was Education Corps Officer in the UK Army. A story Doug told of his Navy days was “Later, in the Royal Navy, I came close to causing a major international incident when I boarded a Russian ship and arrested the Captain.” The diplomats sorted things but Doug recounted how well he and the Russian got on over a rum or two in his wardroom!
Doug married Frances Smales and had a family – two daughters, Victoria and Rachel (who was tragically killed in a car accident aged 18.)
He returned to the South Coast, living in Rowlands Castle – playing golf at his local club. As John Child has explained he was a major factor in the revival of the Old Cicestrians. Geoff Wills, President of The Old Cicestrians, thanks Doug “for the splendid work he did as Chairman, especially in connection with the web site and his organisation of social meetings on numerous occasions. Yes – a true gentleman with the promotion of the Old Cicestrians near and dear to him.”
And on a personal note, I remember playing cricket with Doug and then latterly being part of a threesome with Doug and Ken Hoad in the annual Old Cicestrian Golf Tournament. He played golf as he had cricket and rugby, with enthusiasm, skill and always with a sunny disposition and smiling face.
And as a Postscript, we have a eulogy from an old Naval friend
A Tribute to Doug Murgatroyd
Doug was a larger than life character who grasped life with enthusiasm; a devoted family man with a good sense of humour and with a glass that was always half full. This sums Doug up for me. Had he lived a few months longer then we would have known each other fifty years. He often called me the brother he never had and it seems inconceivable that I am missing his funeral.
We met in our birthday suits whilst undergoing medicals for joining the Royal Navy. Arriving in Dartmouth many months later, Doug was the first person I met on the hallowed parade ground where we had inadvertently parked our cars. A lot of our time at Dartmouth was spent on the parade ground and I have fond memories of him taking charge of our squad. His stentorian voice made him a natural choice as a leader and he became expert at barking out an order to turn about just before the squad ended up in the rose bushes. He took charge of our squad at Prince Charles’s passing out parade some weeks before we left. He was a proud man the day he graduated from college. During his time in the Navy, he served in Portsmouth at the Navy’s equivalent to a Teacher Training College and he had a spell in Scotland always accompanied by his family. After five years he transferred to the Royal Army Education Corps. He had served in various parts of England, Germany and the Falklands. Throughout his service career, Linda and I kept in touch with Doug, Frances and family. We visited each other and had many holidays together. It was at this time that Doug took up golf a game he became passionate about and good at!
Doug, Frances and Victoria faced the tragic death of Rachel with great fortitude and dignity. It was a difficult time for the family when they were settling into their new home in Rowlands Castle and I know the heartbreak it was for them all. They kept Rachel’s memory alive in a positive manner over the years.
It was about this time that Doug joined the golf club and for years he and I and Wally played every week together. Soon Frances also joined. The golf club became a big part of his life and I know of no one who served as long on various committees. He always had the club’s best interest at heart and took great pride in the fact that he almost single-handedly stopped the proposal to build flat-roofed extensions to the golf club. The club owes him a debt of gratitude. The ultimate trophy at Rowlands Castle is to win the Dupree Cup and he achieved that in 1994 and Linda had the honour to present him with the cup. This elevated him to the elite of the club’s golfers.
Doug started life as a schoolmaster and in his final working years, he went back to the classroom as a supply teacher. A lot of this work was at Linda’s school, Woolmer Hill in Surrey. Doug was loved and respected by the kids there who nicknamed him Elton. When he was in front of a class teaching history or geography he was in his element and the kids responded to his enthusiasm. When he joined the Armed Services, it was a loss to teaching. I have no idea how many times I told him so.
As I said at the beginning, Doug was a family man who loved his wife Frances and who was proud of his daughter Victoria. He was also fond of his wider family and kept in touch with them over the years. Linda and I will miss Doug, and our thoughts are with Frances and Victoria at this sad time.
It is hard to contemplate a world without Doug. Those who knew him will hold his memory dear. I have been contacted in recent days by people I have not seen in forty years, old colleagues of Doug, talking of their shared memories. He will be remembered affectionally by all of those who knew him.
Goodbye old chum and thanks for the memory. You had a happy and fulfilled life!