Often Partisan

Do You Remember When… Dugarry Scored His First Goal for the Blues?

I’m going to make a confession. I’m a fan of Football Manager type games and thus I get super-excited when a player I’ve signed on the game comes to Blues for real – especially when that player is a very highly rated one. Christophe Dugarry was one of the players to fit into that category; a world cup winner with France and here he was at Blues – it was a bit surreal at first and a dream come true.

Christophe didn’t score in his first ten games at the club, and I remember that there had been mutterings on the highlights programmes that Dugarry hadn’t been worth the expensive gamble – he’d not produced the goods and Blues were slowly slipping into relegation trouble. Wins against Liverpool and at Villa Park had been welcome but they had come at the end of a nine-game streak without a win and by the time the Sunderland match rolled around we’d won three in five to arrest the slump somewhat. However, we’d been bouncing around just above the relegation trapdoor and came into the game in 17th place. Sunderland however were in deep trouble; bottom of the table, without a league win since December 15 2002 and on a run of nine consecutive defeats. It was a match Blues had to win.

Bryan Hughes started his first game in five months in midfield and Horsfield partnered Dugarry up front. Blues had had a terrible run of injuries in the first couple of months of 2003 and it had just started to ease up as this game approached, meaning the team had quite a balanced look about it. It was two weeks before I got married and thus, ever the romantic fool I am I brought my wife-to-be (as she was then) to only her second or third ever Blues game, and we were sat up in Block 39 for this one.

Sunderland came at us like a train; they knew that if they lost this game any mathematical hope they would have of staying up would evaporate and Mick McCarthy (who was their fourth manager that season) had instilled in them some fight to try to regain some dignity.

However, after the early storm Blues settled and first Horsfield was denied by a block by Talal El-Karkouri before Stephen Clemence missed a good chance with a close-range header. Sunderland should have scored midway through the first half when Sean Thornton miskicked with the goal gaping before Kevin Kyle headed wide.

Blues took the lead just before half time – Estonian keeper Mart Poom had been forced to punch a ball clear to prevent Dugarry from potentially scoring only to see Bryan Hughes chip him from 25 yards.

It was another Poom punch that was to see Dugarry finally break his duck in Blues colours after eleven games – Hughes returning it into the area before Upson touched it on and Dugarry diverted into the corner of the net with a clever header. I remember at the time thinking “well, he’s at least got one for us – I’ve seen him score once for us.” The mercurial Frenchman was subbed off straight afterwards for Stern John. Sunderland came back at us before former Blues target Marcus Stewart was sent off after hacking down John and Clemence had a chance at the death to make it three but couldn’t take it.

Dugarry went on to score four more goals in as many games including a peach of a goal at Charlton where he backheeled in a cross – much like Danny Welbeck did against Sweden in the Euro2012 Championships and Sunderland continued on a losing streak, finishing the season with fifteen lost in a row and a grand total of nineteen points and twenty-one goals scored – both Premier League lows until Derby County in 2008 managed to beat both.

Whilst it went a little pear-shaped once Dugarry joined us permanently I still remember with fondness his Gallic pomp on the pitch – the shrug of the shoulders, the untucked shirt and hair straggling past his shoulders – and think fondly of a time when Blues could bring in someone who was a star on a computer game.


11 Responses to “Do You Remember When… Dugarry Scored His First Goal for the Blues?”

  • brala says:

    good times. i wish we could get a marquee signing like him nowadays. what a legend. loved the way he kissed the badge. DU DU DU DUGARRY

  • Doug says:

    The best times…. I was behind the goal at Charlton with my two sons, we couldn’t believe the goal Dugarry scored – top quality! I also remember an outstanding performance against Southampton at St Andrews when Dugarry gave a master class. Legend!

  • Leigh says:

    He’s still my screensaver!

  • Ali Duncan says:

    A great day however the Southampton game was indeed his best game in a Blues shirt. I’m not of the TF era so I can safely say he’s the most gifted players I’ve ever seen in a Blue shirt.

    It makes me very sad to see our fall from grace regarding ownership. half empty stadiums, no cash and practically all freebies. Oh well….at least Leeds was a step in the right direction (nothing like positive thinking – the only way is up)


  • James says:

    Likewise Ali – the best player I have seen in a Blues shirt. His touch, vision, awareness, he was class.


    • Ali Duncan says:

      Totally agree James. He also brought players into the game like no other player I’ve seen. Add that to the fact that by playing alongside him he made Geoff Horsfield look like Alan Shearer then he surely gets legend status in my book.

  • Steve says:

    Great Article, the good old days. Totally agree, the best player i have seen in a blues shirt.

    ”I also remember an outstanding performance against Southampton at St Andrews when Dugarry gave a master class. Legend!” Spot on Doug, the best individual performance Ive ever seen from a blues player.

    That was probably my favorite season. First season in the Prem, ground was packed every week, singing from start to finish and some great games.
    I thought the Tilton was going to fall down when the Villa goals went in. I remember thinking the same when Damien Johnson bent one from 20 yards top corner against Leeds. Also Robbie Savage rounding the keeper against Bolton to retake the lead straight after they had equalised.

  • Blueboy88 says:

    Dugarry against Southampton was the best single performance seen in a Blue shirt , but it was a Cameo.
    Sir Trevor of Francis has to be our greatest single player as he did it week in week out over 300 games.

    The other really outstanding player for me was Frank Worthington , pace of a Lada , but could caress a football with all the class associated with an Aston Martin.
    When Peter Shilton was widely accepted as the No1 keeper in the world , there was a myth he couldn’t be beaten from outside the penalty area .
    All that changed one November night in 1980.
    When Frank curled a right footer from the edge of the box with his right foot (his worst foot) into the top left of Shilton;s net , utter footballing perfection.

  • viperblue says:

    I am convinced it was sheer luck that Dugarry came good ,he was being played as the target man
    but due to injuries the”Horse”came in with Dugarry playing off him,the rest so they say is history

  • jazzzy786 says:

    The most talented players I’ve seen at the Blues are Zarate, Duggary, Dominguez and Forssell. Still annoys me when I remember how Mcleish overlooked zarate for McFadden.

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