Connell Duggan: Teacher immersed in youth football

Connell Duggan, schoolteacher and football coach: born Winchburgh, West Lothian 19 August 1937; Member, Livingston Development Corporation 1968-76; Deputy Head, St Augustine's RC High School, Edinburgh 1979-92, Headmaster 1992-96; President, Scottish Schools Football Association 1985-87; married 1966 Teresa Clair (two sons, one daughter); died West Calder, Midlothian 22 October 2007
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The Independent Online

Schoolteachers who give up hours of their spare time, for no monetary reward, are often unsung. One testimony to Connell Duggan, a teacher immersed in youth football for four decades and president of the Scottish Schools Football Association, 1985-87, was that I counted three former Scottish international football captains, five club managers, and a host of well-known former players at his Requiem Mass.

Several told me that they owed their footballing careers to Duggan and, equally, a prominent business figure in Scotland said he would not be where he was "unless Connell Duggan had gone to endless trouble to see me through my English exam". Duggan would have thought that the richest reward would be the gratitude of pupils, decades later.

Connell Duggan was born in the shale-mining village of Winchburgh, West Lothian, where his father worked in the soap factory. The long, lingering illness of his mother gave Connell a strong sense of compassion. Later, as his contemporary in charge of a rival secondary school football team, I noticed that, unlike some teacher football fanatics, Duggan insisted in giving the less talented or even severely athletically challenged pupils a game, if they wanted it. Duggan's overriding question was less "How can I produce Scottish international footballers?", rather more "How can I help to send out into the world rounded young adults?"

His first job was at Our Lady and St Bridget's in West Calder, Midlothian, where he went having completed an English degree at Edinburgh University and an MEd at Moray House College. In 1962 he joined the staff of St Mary's Academy in Bathgate, then led by a remarkable headmaster of exacting standards, Dr John McCabe, who recognised Duggan's worth and recommended him in 1970 as a senior house master at St Aidan's High School in Wishaw. Promoted to assistant head teacher he returned to St Kentigern's Academy, Blackburn, West Lothian.

Transferring to his last school, in 1979 he became assistant head teacher at the huge St Augustine's RC High School in Edinburgh, but often ran the school, since the head teacher was frequently away on government assignments; Duggan became head of St Augustine's in his last four years, 1992-96. The chaplain of the school, Mgr Anthony Duffy, says that the great thing about Duggan was that he cared for pupils, staff and not least non-teaching staff, janitors and cleaners, rather than statistics or getting brownie points. By common consent, he was a great headmaster.

In 1968, as MP for the Deans and Knightsridge area of Livingston new town, I went to Willie Ross, Harold Wilson's Secretary of State for Scotland, and the minister immediately responsible for new towns, Judith Hart, along with my colleague Alex Eadie, the miners' MP, who represented the Craigshill Howden and Ladywell areas of Livingston, and asked them to appoint an energetic young teacher to membership of the Livingston Development Corporation. Duggan served for eight years from 1968 and made a huge and significant contribution to the development of Scotland's biggest new town, particularly in relation to community schools, a concept that suited the Glasgow overspill population and the needs of that decade.

Between 1974 and 1979, Duggan was a scout for Manchester United. Among many, he recommended the 14-year-old Arthur Albiston, who went on to play in the famous Cup final of 1977 when United beat Liverpool, then at the zenith of their glory under Bob Paisley, by two goals to one. It was typical of Duggan that he should have gone down to support Albiston, who says, "He was marvellous to a whole number of my generation and I will never forget him at the celebrations after the match. He was a teacher of strong ideals and lasting friendships."

Tam Dalyell