Football Dugouts

Gerry Quinn   11/04/2022 17comments  |  Jump to last

The first dugout appeared at Pittodrie (home of Aberdeen) in the early 1920s. The story goes that Aberdeen’s trainer at the time, Donald Colman, was a boxing and dancing enthusiast obsessed with his players’ footwork. Because he also made meticulous notes during each game and therefore needed a dry notebook, he had Aberdeen build a sunken covered area at Pittodrie, thereafter known as the ‘dugout’.

A few years later, Everton visited Pittodrie, liked the idea and built one at Goodison Park. Don’t forget that this was some 40 years before the introduction of substitutes.

In the early days, dugouts had to be sunk below ground level so as not to get in the way of the crowd, although it is not that uncommon in non-league football to find the odd example where they are positioned immediately in front of the stand, as at Sidlesham until fairly recently.

These days, it is quite rare to see a proper dugout, sunk below ground level. Part of this reason probably stems from the fact that it is virtually impossible to get a good view of the action from such a worm's eye position, although a more pragmatic answer is that they tend to get full of water, particularly during a typical British football season.

Wembley Stadium was unusual in that there were no dugouts as such, but instead the classic ‘trainers bench’ was provided on the touchline.

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 11/04/2022 at 22:18:05
The Everton one had that horrible glass enclosure for a long time – perhaps to help keep the water out. No doubt also to help separate the team management from the great unwashed, as was the way in our 'family club' back in the Good Old Days. Perhaps that was until the demolition of the old Goodison Road stand in the 1970s?
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 12/04/2022 at 00:22:19
Gerry, only you would write an article on dugouts!

I must, however, point out (with appropriate Colonial territorialism) that sports dugouts originated in baseball around 1908. According to misty history, a baseball park in Newport, Rhode Island that is still in use was the first to position the waiting players below ground so they wouldn't obstruct the fans' view of home plate.

And most major league parks still use sunken dugouts today. Occasionally we're privileged to see a fielder tumble into one while trying to catch a popup. If it's his own dugout, his teammates will try to catch him. If it's the opposing dugout, he'll be allowed to spin hilariously over the rail and plop onto the concrete below.
Gerry Quinn
4 Posted 12/04/2022 at 07:27:02
Mike, how did I know that you would let me know that the US had them before us? :) Well, we had them at the Battle of Waterloo...

Just thought that one or two would be interested to know their history and more importantly - where, in those days, the fans could hide behind when Everton played as frustratingly and terrifyingly as today!
Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 12/04/2022 at 07:59:38
As a young supporter, I wanted to be close to the pitch, but ended up in the very middle of the lower Gwladys Street; just behind the ledge right in front of the goal.

As a coach, I was always close to the pitch. It interested me how some managers took to the stand at times. I can understand it, but I always wanted a pitch side view.

As a "maturing" supporter, I now like to be higher up; at Goodison, an unobstructed view in the Upper Bullens is my preferred spot so I can watch the movement and the football. I'm still determined to get a half time drink before the season is done. Its becoming a battle of wills.

Not so much the dugout, but those who have sat on the first couple of rows of the Enclosure will appreciate that you lose sight of the ball on the other side due to the curvature of the pitch for irrigation reasons. I don't think it's as bad on the Paddock side as the seats are more elevated.
Peter Mills
8 Posted 12/04/2022 at 08:07:04
Michael, I think my memory is correct, I seem to recall the horrible glass enclosure being built because the great unwashed had a tendency to lob objects and abuse at home or away management teams, depending on how results were going!
Gerry Quinn
9 Posted 12/04/2022 at 08:28:16
Peter, cushions used to be the main "lobbed" objects - even I can remember a few of them hurtling over my head towards the pitch!!!
Andrew Ellams
10 Posted 12/04/2022 at 09:15:25
Saw a video of an Everton game from the 70s recently was it seemed odd that both teams only had 4 people in the dugout when these days those on the bench outnumber the people on the pitch.
Andrew Ellams
11 Posted 12/04/2022 at 09:15:34
Saw a video of an Everton game from the 70s recently was it seemed odd that both teams only had 4 people in the dugout when these days those on the bench outnumber the people on the pitch.
Andrew Ellams
12 Posted 12/04/2022 at 09:27:22
Saw a video of an Everton game from the 70s recently was it seemed odd that both teams only had 4 people in the dugout when these days those on the bench outnumber the people on the pitch.
Peter Mills
13 Posted 12/04/2022 at 09:40:37
Andrew #10, we counted the Man Utd players and associated staff coming out of the Park End and across the pitch on Saturday – 38!
Ray Robinson
14 Posted 12/04/2022 at 10:04:21
Peter #13, I took a picture on Saturday of upwards of 70 people on the pitch in the pre-match warmup. If only I knew how to post it on here. A couple of blokes were carrying iPads!
Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 12/04/2022 at 11:30:05
I was at an Everton reserve game in the eighties versus Notts. Forest a night game and Brian Clough demanded a chair to sit on just outside the dug out, he was on his to way to getting drunk that night, he’d completed the job by the time he was getting on to the team coach to go home!!
Ralph Basnett
16 Posted 12/04/2022 at 19:23:47
Versus Man Utd they had 30, yes 30 on the bench. What the fuck, we have the smallest benches in the world they must be sitting on each others knees.

But more importantly they have 'stolen' seats from the families area.

Nicholas Ryan
17 Posted 13/04/2022 at 17:12:06
Mike Gaynes etc. might be able to help me on this; but, several World Cups ago, wasn't there an incident where the dugouts were see-through plastic; and a USA sub who was just abut to come on, forgot that fact and had a pee out of the side of his shorts behind the dugout, caught on TV! Was it Demarcos Beasley?!
John Raftery
18 Posted 13/04/2022 at 22:57:26
I may be wrong but I think the glass structure, and it was ugly, was installed as part of the club’s preparations for the 1966 World Cup.
Chris Hockenhull
19 Posted 13/04/2022 at 23:50:37
Peter ( 8).. John (18). Hi Yes the monstrosity of the glass box was for the 66 World Cup though it got worse when the ‘great unwashed’ began to reign missiles towards it hence a cage form of cover was put all over the thing. So much for that earlier ruling that they had to not interfere with spectators views of the pith ( an early indication regards the fans don’t come into the thinking. I recall an evening about 1983 we had a mid week game v Utd at Goodison.. which we won.. and by then days there was a smaller bench with no cage but re enforced glass. Some kid got on everyone’s nerves by spending the entire game banging on the glass right behind Ron Atkinson. Most of the crowd tried to verbally dissuade the kid to stop with no use. Give him credit that he put up with it until second half until he could take no more and Ild Swan’s finest turned around and with fists ablaze told him loudly to “ Fuck off you annoying c**t” which drew a loud cheer from the fans and terrified the said loon scurrying away. Big Ron was very popular after that!!!
Chris Hockenhull
20 Posted 13/04/2022 at 23:55:36
Peter ( 8).. John (18). Hi Yes the monstrosity of the glass box was for the 66 World Cup though it got worse when the ‘great unwashed’ began to reign missiles towards it hence a cage form of cover was put all over the thing. So much for that earlier ruling that they had to not interfere with spectators views of the pith ( an early indication regards the fans don’t come into the thinking. I recall an evening about 1983 we had a mid week game v Utd at Goodison.. which we won.. and by then days there was a smaller bench with no cage but re enforced glass. Some kid got on everyone’s nerves by spending the entire game banging on the glass right behind Ron Atkinson. Most of the crowd tried to verbally dissuade the kid to stop with no use. Give him credit that he put up with it until second half until he could take no more and Old Swan’s finest turned around and with fists ablaze told him loudly to “ Fuck off you annoying c::t” which drew a loud cheer from the fans and terrified the said loon scurrying away. Big Ron was very popular after that!!!

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