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  • Dan Doyle - Celtic's first superstar

    Dan Doyle - Celtic's first superstar

    By: Joe Sullivan on 10 Aug, 2014 08:58

  • IT was on this day, August 10, 1891 that one of the all-time Celtic legends signed for the club when Dan Doyle moved from Everton to the East End of Glasgow.

    Born in Paisley in 1864, he had played for several clubs one both sides of the border before joining the Bhoys.

    Arguably Celtic’s first real superstar, Dan Doyle was the pin-up boy who was lured from English champions Everton in 1891 to become a sensation in Glasgow. Born in Paisley, Dan played with Hibernian and Grimsby among others, before finally landing at Celtic. He was delighted to play for the club and, along with Jimmy Kelly, set high standards on the pitch. Off the field, Doyle sometimes courted controversy, but there was no denying his talent or appeal. With him in the team, crowds flocked to see Celtic and he took over as captain in time to lead the club to the Scottish league title in 1898.

    Superb, basically. A tenacious left-back, he was one of the world’s best in that position during his era. Physically, he was immensely strong and had the ability to boss games. He was talented with both feet and imperious in the air. Jimmy Kelly was the captain at the start of Doyle’s Celtic career, but Dan still commanded a lot of respect from his team-mates and opponents. He feared no-one and didn’t take kindly to being ordered about by anyone. He was a great player and a massive character – on and off the pitch.

    Just joining his beloved Celtic would have been a massive achievement for the man nicknamed ‘Ned’, but being able to then play an integral role in the club’s early success was the stuff of dreams. He won four league titles and one Scottish Cup, while he also represented Scotland eight times. As expected, he was also chosen to captain his country – becoming the second Celt to do so after Jimmy Kelly.

    In 1888, Doyle was involved in the death of a player. He was playing with Grimsby Town against Stevely when he was involved in an accidental collision with opponent William Cropper. Over the next few hours, it became apparent that Cropper was in serious trouble and, with him in too much pain to be taken to hospital, he died in the pavilion. A subsequent inquest cleared Doyle of any wrongdoing, realising it had been a genuine accident. However, the tragedy clearly affected him and he briefly considered giving up the game.

    Life was never really the same for Doyle after his Celtic career finished. Like many of the great players throughout the history of football, he found his new existence away from football difficult to deal with. The twin evils of gambling and alcohol saw him virtually penniless at the time of his death. However, he was not deserted by Celtic in his final years – legendary Hoops figure Willie Maley among those who looked out for him until the very end - when he died from cancer in April 1918.

    Doyle’s move to Celtic caused major controversy in the British game. He was registered as an Everton player, but also agreed to sign for Bolton and Celtic at the same time – picking up close season wages from all three clubs. At this juncture, the English clubs were professional, while Celtic carried an amateur status, but to the amazement of everyone down south, Doyle opted to join the Scottish club in the 1891/92 season. There was widespread anger at this decision and led to a campaign by the English press to have him banned from ever playing football in that country again.

    Celtic career: 1891-1899
    Position: Left-back
    Celtic debut: v Hearts on 15/8/1891 (3-1 loss)
    Appearances: 133
    Goals: 6
    Honours: 4 Scottish Leagues, 1 Scottish Cup
    Caps: 8 (Scotland)


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