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Johnny Duncan (footballer)

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Johnny Duncan (footballer)

Johnny Duncan
Personal information
Full name John Duncan
Date of birth (1896-02-14)14 February 1896
Place of birth Fife, Scotland
Date of death 14 March 1966(1966-03-14) (aged 70)
Place of death Leicester, England
Playing position Right-half/Inside right
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1915–1916 Lochgelly United
1916–1922 Raith Rovers
1922–1930 Leicester City 279 (88)
1933 Solus
National team
1925 Scotland 1 (1)
Teams managed
1946–1949 Leicester City

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

John 'Johnny' Duncan (nicknamed "Tokey")[1] was a Scottish football player and manager, who is most notable for his time at Leicester City.

He captained the club to its greatest ever league finishes of 3rd and 2nd place in the First Division in 1927–28 and 1928–29 respectively. While also carrying much of the backroom influence at the time as he asserted the club remained faithful to Peter Hodge's passing style.[2] He later managed the club to its first ever major cup final in 1949.[3] He has been described as "an indelible Leicester City great"[4]

He also holds the (joint) club record at Leicester for the most goals in a single game, scoring six goals in a 7–0 victory over Port Vale on Christmas Day 1924 (this record was later equalled by Arthur Chandler, who scored the opening goal before Duncan hit his six against Port Vale).[5]

Former Leeds United and England manager Don Revie, who played under Duncan at Leicester, dedicates an entire chapter of his autobiography to Duncan, entitled "My Debt to Johnny Duncan" claiming "Until you have heard Johnny Duncan talk about Soccer then your Football Education is sadly lacking."[6]


  • Early career 1
  • Leicester City 2
  • Honours 3
    • As a Player 3.1
    • As a Manager 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early career

He started his senior football career with Lochgelly United in the wartime Eastern League during World War I, scoring a hat-trick against Dunfermline Athletic on his debut.[1] After one year he moved on to Raith Rovers.

Leicester City

A skilful ball player, Duncan, who could play either as a wing half or an inside forward, Duncan began his career under Peter Hodge at Raith Rovers, where towards the end of his career at Raith, he played alongside the legendary inside-forward Alex James.[6] Hodge was again re-united with Duncan after he signed Duncan, along with his brother Tom, for Leicester in 1922, where he was considered the lynch-pin around which Hodge's plans in progressing the club and instilling the Scottish passing style into the club's culture were built. After Hodge left in 1926, Duncan insisted the club stayed loyal to Hodge's passing style as the club reached its halcyon years of league success.[3][7]

Duncan's influence on the side was described by a column in The Sunday Express at the end of the 1928–29 season: "The best football team have been Leicester City, who have approached nearer to the pre-war standard than any other in individuality and constructive cleverness. I attribute this largely to the influence of their Scottish captain, John Duncan, who has insisted that the way to success was by expert use of the ball than by helter-skelter methods."[3]

Duncan was effectively sacked as a player from the club in 1930 after the club refused to allow him to run a local public house, the "Turks' Head," while contracted as a player.[3]

JD relaxing in Scotland

He ran the Turks' Head with his wife Agnes until he died in 1966. It became known as one of the sportsmens pubs of Leicester. He had three children Jean, David and Jenny.

He also won one cap for the Scotland national football team, scoring against Wales in the 1926 British Home Championship. He later had a brief spell at Leicester based amateur side Solus FC.

His influence as club captain was later transferred to management as he re-joined Leicester City once more, this time as manager after the end of World War II. He managed the club to their first ever major cup final, the 1949 FA Cup Final, which they lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers. The run to the cup final included an incredible 5–5 draw with Luton Town in the 5th round, in which Jack Lee managed to head home a Mal Griffiths corner in injury time of extra-time (this was Lee's fourth goal of the match) to equalise and send the game to a replay. Duncan missed the goal as he was on his knees with his back to the pitch, praying in desperation.[8]

He was sacked a few months later in October 1949 after another disagreement with the club's board, this time over transfer policy, specifically over a dispute in which he stated that he didn't believe in close season deals, as he couldn't judge a player's current form.[3]

He signed forward Don Revie for Leicester. Revie went on to marry his niece Elsie and eventually became one of the biggest names in English football as manager of Leeds United and then the England team.[9]

Duncan continued to run the Turk's Head pub in Leicester for several decades after his playing career ended, including while still as manager.


As a Player

Leicester City

As a Manager

Leicester City


  1. ^ a b Twydell, Dave (1997). Rejected F.C. of Scotland Volume 3:The Rest. p. 180.  
  2. ^ Leicester City celebrates 125 years of football, Part One – Leicester Fosse to Leicester City (Audio), retrieved 2 April 2011
  3. ^ a b c d e Dave Smith & Paul Taylor (2010). Of Fossils and Foxes.  
  4. ^ [3] Our Leicestershire Sporting Greats countdown – 40 to 25,, retrieved 19 February 2011.
  5. ^ Miscellaneous Records, retrieved 31 March 2011
  6. ^ a b Revie, Don (1955). Soccer's Happy Wanderer. 
  7. ^ Lymn, Chris (1998). We Love You Leicester! : a popular history of Leicester City. Leicester: CRL.  
  8. ^ Leicester City celebrates 125 years of football, Part Two – Leicester City's FA Cup Final (Audio), retrieved 31 March 2011
  9. ^ [4]

External links

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