Derek Hogg

Former Player Remembers: Derek Hogg

Left-winger Derek Hogg, famed for his pace and for his dribbling skills, was a key player for both Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion in the 1950s.
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Two years before Derek sadly died in 2014, aged 84, he spoke at length about his distinguished career in football. At Leicester, Derek set a record for consecutive appearances at the Club, won promotion to the top flight and was selected to represent the Football League against the Scots.

He then had two successful years with high-flying West Bromwich Albion before concluding his Football League career in the old First Division with Cardiff City. 

Sitting in his home in Cromer, Derek began by talking about his early years in football: “I was born in Norton-on-Tees but I left there when I was quite young. My dad was a coppersmith and tinsmith and he used to work in the ship yards. We moved to Liverpool when I was a toddler and then up to Preston when I was about five or six. I lived there until I was about 18. 

“My early footballing days were in the Preston District League when I was about 13 or 14. I was playing against older people which I think was good for me.

“At that time, Preston North End picked me up. As well as the first and reserve teams, they had an A and a B team and about six junior teams and you’d always get a game. We trained twice a week in a semi-dark carpark. I played on the wing as I was bit quick.

“I was always the fastest at all the clubs I played with.

“I stayed with Preston as an amateur until I joined the army at 18 for my National Service. I was in the Royal Signals. After six months at Catterick, they shipped me off to Egypt and the Suez Canal Zone for 12 months. I played for the Army Canal Zone team and for the Signals, but it was 18 months to two years wasted really as I could have done much better with my football. 

“I went back to Preston as an amateur when I was 20, but I didn’t even get in the reserves. I was in the third team. Then we played a game near Chorley and they asked me to join them as a part-time professional in the Lancashire Combination.

“I went there and I was earning more than double than what I was getting at work. I was only there for two or three months. I knew I was being watched by scouts. One was Leicester’s North West scout and eventually, City offered me a full-time professional contract.

“I was signed by their manager Norman Bullock (in October 1952). They were a good Second Division side in those days. 

“I was a right winger back then. I made my debut on Valentine’s Day in 1953, but I didn’t get many chances as a right winger because (Wales international) Mal Griffiths automatically filled that position. It just seemed a lost cause. I was in the reserves, like always.

“Then one day, (in September 1954, with Leicester back in the top flight for just one season) the first team was short of an outside left and Bullock said to me: ‘Have a go on the left wing.’ I was happy to, because I could always kick with both feet.”

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Derek Hogg

Derek Hogg would go on to break the Club's record for consecutive appearances.

Derek went on to break a then Club record for appearing in consecutive matches by playing in the next 104 games

“That was a Club record but it has been broken since,” Derek continued. “There were no substitutes in those days.”

While he was at Filbert Street, Leicester were Second Division champions in 1954, when Derek spent most of the season in the reserves and in 1957, when he was a key member of the team that broke many records as it stormed its way back to the top flight. 

He was also selected for the Football League side for the fixture against the Scottish League at Hillsborough in October 1955. 

“It was an honour to be selected, but it wasn’t quite as I’d expected,” Derek reflected. “You were notified that you were playing and told that you had to bring your own shin pads and towel and things like that.

“You had to travel to the game on the train, second-class, keep your ticket and then get your expenses paid at the hotel. It was all very matter-of-fact. The fee for playing was £25. You had to be a full international to get a cap, so we got a medal. This game was classed as a ‘B’ international.

“In that match, I played with the best footballer ever, Tom Finney,” Derek continued. “He was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The great Nat Lofthouse was also in the side, as was Bert Williams in goal... also Jimmy Dickinson and Billy Wright, who won 105 caps for England.

“It was difficult to get into the England side though. Tom Finney was always on the left wing and Stanley Matthews was on the right wing. In those days, England only played five or six games a season so there were very few opportunities.

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Leicester City 1957

The Foxes won the Second Division title in 1957.

“Nowadays, they play so many more internationals and players get a cap if they come on for a few minutes as a substitute. There’s no comparison.

“Between 1954 and 1958 was my best time at Leicester,” Derek continued. “I was playing really regularly. The 1956/57 team was really good. We averaged over 30,000 attendances that season.” 

This prompted Derek to recall some of his team-mates who were household names at the time.

He explained: “I got on very well with Arthur Rowley (whose 434 league goals is a British record). He was a real plodder was Arthur. He was ever so strong. You couldn’t get the ball off him. He had such a strong left foot shot.

“When we trained, I used to cross balls to him for shooting practice and the goalkeeper used to let some of his shots go by. They were heavy balls in those days and the 'keeper would think: ‘I’m not getting in the way of that!’

“Derek Hines was a very good player. He’d always get into the right positions. He was a really good goal poacher. Most of his goals came from two or three yards out. 

“The player who helped me more than anyone else when I first got into the team as a young player was (the ex-Manchester United, Derby County and England inside-forward) Johnny Morris. He was the best all-round player I’d ever seen in that era. He’d never give you the ball if you were in trouble.

“He looked after you. It was different then. You had to be looked after because it was a hard game then. Conditions were different. Players didn’t take prisoners in those days!

“Another good player was (the ex-Portsmouth and England international) Jack Froggatt. He was a centre-half, but he’d actually played on the left wing a few times as well as at right-half. 

“There was also (centre-forward) Willie Gardiner. I wouldn’t say he was very skilful but he was always in the right place at the right time. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone head the ball better than Willie.”

During the first season back in the old First Division (1957/58), Derek was again a key player in helping the Club avoid relegation, laying the foundations for the successful decade for the Foxes which followed. 

However, in March 1958, he asked for a transfer, which led to his move to West Bromwich Albion at the end of the season. The main reason was his difficult relationship with manager David Halliday, who had taken over from Bullock as manager in June 1955.

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Derek Hogg

Further success would follow for Derek Hogg at West Bromwich Albion.

Derek added: “It’s quite a well known fact that this was the main reason I left Leicester but people also said that I left because I wanted to move to a bigger club to give me more chance of playing for England. It was nothing like that at all.”

In Derek’s two years at the Hawthorns, between 1958 and 1960, West Brom finished fifth and fourth in the top flight.

“At that time, West Brom were an established First Division club and one of the best teams in the league,” Derek said. “In 1959, we were odds-on to win the league and the cup and double but we lost to Blackpool in the cup. We’d thrashed Luton 7-0 that year and they got to the final and Wolves won the league.

“I probably enjoyed my football more at Leicester, but Albion were a bigger club in those days. At Leicester, we’d had a couple of seasons in the First Division and, when we went to places like Manchester United and Burnley, it was always really, really hard to get a point, but at Albion we’d go to these grounds and win convincingly. It was really good.

“Another difference was that whenever Albion played away on a Saturday, we’d always travel on the Friday and stay overnight before the game. This was great for developing camaraderie. At Leicester, we only stayed away the night before a match on odd occasions. 

“We didn’t spend enough time away together as a team. Usually we’d travel on the day of the game. We did a lot of travelling by coach, although we’d get the 10am train to London on the day of a match there and also go by train to the North East.” 

In October 1960, Derek moved to First Division Cardiff City: “West Brom got rid of their manager Vic Buckingham, who had signed me, and brought Gordon Clark in as manager. He got rid of a lot of the old players, bringing new ones in.

“He even let Ray Barlow go, who was one of the best players I’d ever played with.

“When I signed for Cardiff, I was living in West Brom while waiting to go into a Cardiff club house which was being built. I trained at West Brom and travelled to Cardiff for the matches by train from Birmingham. By coincidence, my first game for Cardiff was against Leicester City at Ninian Park.

“I caught the same train from Birmingham for the game as the Leicester team and travelled down with them, chatting to their manager Matt Gillies. We beat them 2-1 and I scored on my Cardiff debut.

“Banksy (Gordon Banks) was in goal for Leicester, who had a good side that season. John Sjoberg made his Leicester debut in this game.” 

Derek left Cardiff City for Southern League side Kettering Town in July 1962 and, after making nearly 100 appearances for the Poppies, he then spent nearly a quarter of a century as a publican. His first pub, was the Royal Oak at Osgathorpe.

His second was the Black Horse in the Lincolnshire village of Ludford, near Market Rasen. He took this over in the 1980s and stayed there for another 12 years. He finally retired in the 1990s, moving to Cromer. He then moved to Lincolnshire where he passed away, in Sutton-on-Sea, in 2014.

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