Dan Doyle

Daniel "Dan" Doyle was not given the soubriquet of "The Wild Rover" for nothing. He was and did both, not necessarily at the same time, almost from birth in 1864 to his early death in 1918.

He was born in Paisley, the son on both sides of Scots-born parents but grand-parents, who had come from Ireland before The Famine. His father had stayed in Airdrie and/or Glasgow but his mother was from the Renfrewshire town and that is where they settled. However, Dan's father died, seemingly in the poorhouse in 1870, and his mother was left with four children, all ten or under. It was not an easy start in life, Dan was boarded with family back in Airdrie, albeit that in 1874 Jane Doyle re-married.

Dan's mother was to have three more children with her second husband but there is only partial indication that the two sets of children were fully integrated. In 1881 Jane Doyle in 1881 is still in Paisley with just the two youngest of her Doyle children. And that same year now at age sixteen Dan was still in Airdrie, still with the same aunt at the same address as a decade earlier and now working as a miner. So it seems likely that his football was learned in the pit-country of Lanarkshire, not the cotton of Renfrew. Certainly it began with local Airdrie team, Rawyards Juniors from where he moved with work across to Slamannan before at nineteen joining Broxburn Shamrock. 

From there he was at twenty-one selected for the county before in early 1887 stepping up to Hibernian and into its First Team almost immediately. However, gambler that he was a year later with the coming of the Football League down South he was clearly looking for a professional opportunity, which came with a trial at Sunderland Albion and a final berth, for the moment, at Grimsby Town. 

It was there that a young footballing career might have come to an abrupt end. Doyle was a powerfully-built young man, a left full-back of the most robust kind and in January 1889, as a consequence of one of his challenges, an opponent, also a well-known Derbyshire cricketer, died. And, although Dan was cleared of blame by the Coroner's court he moved on, briefly to Bolton and then to Everton. 

There he remained for two seasons, winning the League in 1891. In that time he is recorded as a Labourer, boarding alongside five other Scots players at the club, Duncan McLean, James Kirkwood, Alex Brady, Patrick Gordon and James McMillan. However the situation was changing in Scotland for all. The Scottish League had been formed and was clearly shamateur enough for Doyle to able to sign for Celtic, with the tenancy of a bar in Bellshill as the sweetener, and from 1893 professional enough for him to stay. In fact he would spend the rest of his career at Parkhead, retiring in 1899, in the interim in 1892 winning the first of eight caps, five against England, captaining once, four League titles and a Scottish Cup.  

Dan Doyle was thirty-four on retirement. He had meanwhile in 1894 married Margaret Devlin back in Airdrie, they had settled just outwith Bellshill, the couple seeming to have remained childless. He now turned his attention to his pub but gambling would become an increasing problem. Debts from it forced him in 1910 to sell the bar. He also, by 1911, whilst still recorded as a Spirit Merchant, had had to move to an address on Bellshill Main St. And at some point soon after his health must also have begun to deteriorate. By 1918 he was working as an electric crane-man, had drink-problems, was said to be penniless, being helped by the club, and had cancer, from which he passed away that same year at the age of just fifty-three. He is buried in St. Peter's Cemetery, Dalbeth, Margaret outliving him by almost half a century, perhaps living partly in Canada and the United States, but dying in Greenock in 1954.

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