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"The Wild Rover"


Doyle, Dan - Pic

Full Name: Daniel Doyle
aka: Dan Doyle, Ned
Birthplace: Renfrew, Paisley
Born: 16 Sep 1864
Died: 8 April 1918
Family: Father Allan, Mother Janet Downie, Stepfather Paul Cox
10 Aug 1891 (and reinstated amateur 8 Aug 1899)
8 Aug 1899 (reinstated as amateur)
Defender, Left-back
Debut: Hearts 3-1 Celtic, League, 15 Aug 1891
Internationals: Scotland
International Caps: 9 caps (W3 D2 L4)
International Goals: 0 goals


  • Celtic's first major footballing hero!
  • Also our first major maverick!
  • Played in the first Celtic team to win the Scottish League and the first to win the Scottish Cup
  • Nickname: 'Ned'


Doyle, Dan - Pic

In nearly 120 years there have been few players in the history of Celtic who have been as controversial and as loved as the legendary Dan Doyle.

Paisley-born Doyle was a former Hibernian player who had really made a name for himself as a left-back in England with various clubs but most notably Everton.

Despite success in England, there was tragedy too. On 12th Jan 1889, in a match v Grimsby Town a collision with Stevely forward and Derbyshire cricketer William Cropper saw the latter carried off the pitch. Sadly William Cropper died the next day. There was no intention of hurt, and was fair according to the rules of the game (as agreed by the coroner's jury). The death was due to the injury but also the poor state of medical attention at the time. Disturbingly, Cropper hadn't actually wanted to play that game it was all cruel fate. We can only guess now what impact it would have made on Doyle.

Back in Scotland, Doyle’s first game at Celtic Park had actually been as a Hibs player in the match with Cowlairs on May 8th 1888 which marked the opening of the ground. But it would be his return to Parkhead in the summer of 1890 that really created a stir.

At that time Doyle was registered with Everton where he was club captain and had just lifted the English league championship trophy. Unbeknown to the Merseysiders Doyle had also accepted terms to play for both Bolton Wanderers and Celtic and during that summer the crafty player happily collected wages from all three clubs.

As the new season approached the matter came to a head and to the astonishment of everyone Doyle moved home to Scotland to sign for the supposedly amateur Celtic.

That the amateur club could tempt such a sought after talent away from the professional game in England created much suspicion and anger but if it ever bothered the headstrong Doyle he never let it show.

The audacious capture of Doyle was greeted ecstatically by the ever growing Celtic support and the crowds flocked to Parkhead to see their prestigious new signing in action.

Doyle did not disappoint. He was a strong and wonderfully two footed player who was arguably the best defender of his generation. His perfectly timed tackles thwarted attack after attack and would be greeted by cheers as vigorous as those that met any goal.

Quick in both body and mind his pinpoint long passes from defence were a trademark feature of his game and a vital weapon in Celtic’s attacking armoury.

On and off the pitch there were few players as vocal as Doyle and he was not afraid to let opponents, team-mates or club officials know his feelings. At one point he went on strike for more money – and thankfully for him he missed Celtic’s humiliating Scottish Cup defeat to Arthurlie in January 1897 in the process.

As a measure of his worth, he had an arrangement with the club where he would get paid his wages a year in advance. Doyle was also known to miss training sessions if it got in the way of his hectic social calender.

But for all that, the Celtic fans loved Doyle and the player’s qualities were such that he would also become captain of both Celtic and Scotland.

He was simply an immense talent, and despite his antics off the field there was never any doubting that on the pitch Doyle gave nothing less than his all.

When he retired in 1899 after nine years as Celt, he had played 133 times for the Bhoys and scored 6 goals. In that time he won four league championships, one Scottish Cup and eight Scotland caps. He even captained Scotland against England. Greatest of all, he had assured himself a place in history as one of the most loved Celts of all time.

Dan Doyle died on 8th April 1918 at the age of 53 in the Glasgow Cancer Hospital of cancer of the throat and cervical glands. Earlier that day he'd been visited by Willie Maley - Dan showed him how is legs had become emaciated and gaunt due to illness before saying: "Ah, well, they made a little bit of Celtic's history." Sadly, this story must be treated with scepticism, as combined with Maley`s love of romance and maudlin obsession with death comes the fact he is said to have told it of other players of this era as well.

Dan was buried on 10th April 1918 in St.Peter's Cemetery, Dalbeth a mere stone's throw from Celtic Park and next door to Barrowfield the future Celtic Training Ground. He had owned a whisky distillery but had fallen on hard times in later years.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow records show that Dan was a friend of the owner of the lair in which he is buried - it was not owned by Dan or any Doyle family member - it seems Willie Maley carried out one last act of kindness for his friend - he was a good friend to Dan in his times of need and that is the true judge of a man's character:
"In Dan Doyle the Celtic Faithful had a man who was the embodiment of their own hopes of the time in rising above the mundane whilst remaining independent of soul."


6 Nov 2010, the Celtic Graves Society in their inaugural event, chose to mark a remembrance for Dan Doyle. Well attended the group laid a headstone for Dan Doyle's grave (previously unmarked).


Playing Career

1891-99 112 21 n/a n/a 133
Goals 4 2 - - 6

Major Honours with Celtic

Scottish League Championships
Scottish Cup


Daniel Doyle - Kerrydale Street

"....With him was the invincible Dan Doyle, that legendary hero of a hundred stern fights, whose fame is even yet a magic password where young Celts in Glasgow look up the records of ancient chiefs. More than any other player of the early Everton days he brought the name of the club to the highest pinnacle, as the team that rose to every challenge and would never accept defeat. So great was his prestige as an impassable barrier in defence that people flocked whenever the Everton team played to see “the great” Dan Doyle. No player in England could ever say he had got the better of Dan in a contest of strength or skill on the field. He took the field in every match as one who would do or die. Little wonder that many an attack crumpled at the outset rather than risk a fall from the brawny Celt. He was like many another big players, said at times to be over vigorous but scrupulously jealous of the good name of his club, he fought to win, and in every game it is the weaker one that goes to the wall. That wonderful half-back line Kirkwood, Holt, and Campbell was the keystone of the team. Comparisons have often been made of the effectiveness as a line, compared with later half-back combinations of national fame, but as we have mentioned earlier, the strength and brilliance of Kirkwood'as line was its close association with the attacking division, and on necessity its internal part of the Everton defence. When the Everton team was in defence five backs were in active eschalon. Holt, Kirkwood, and “Watty” Campbell never let an enemy forward line steady down to a sustained attack. Like terriers or bulldogs they seized on to the individual attackers and worried or badgered them until from sheer exhaustion they gave up the attack, then like whippets these three halves were in full flight up the field feeding and nursing their own forwards in the counter-offensive. If Dan Kirkwood could train a modern half-back line to the playing methods of his own playing days, we should have more pleasant reading most Saturday nights. Of the framed forward line of the Everton team, we have said a lot. We could say more, but it would be repetition."
Article from the Liverpool football echo of January 16, 1926.




Dan Doyle: The Life and Death of a Wild Rover


My family has a lot of Daniel Doyles in it. It’s a tradition, or an old charter, or something. Each of them is fascinating in his own way but I choose one in particular to talk about here as he was famous in his time and still remembered today by a certain green side of Glasgow.

First, how is he related to me? My brother is Daniel Doyle, our father is Daniel Doyle, his father was Daniel Doyle, his father was Daniel Doyle, his father was Edward Doyle (how did that happen?), his father was Daniel Doyle, his father was Daniel Doyle and his father was Allan Doyle (!?). The last Daniel Doyle is my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather and he was born in County Down, Ireland about 1780.

Being Irish and Catholic he proceeded to marry and produce a multitude of children. One of them was Daniel (b. 1832) but another was named Allan (b. 1834) after his father. Allan had a son and, being a traditionalist (or a charterist or a somethingist) he named his first-born Daniel in 1864. This is the Daniel I’ll be talking about. He’s, if you’ve not been paying attention, my great-great-great-grandfather’s cousin.

The reason why I’m interested in this particular Daniel is that many years ago my dad used to mention that we were related to the great Dan Doyle, famous Celtic and Scotland player who was of such great ability that he was able to turn up late and drunk to an important match, demand to be let on the pitch, and then score the winning goal.

Obviously this must be true and not just the stuff of legend. He said he was his great great uncle or something.

Anyway, I always hoped to prove this at some point while researching my family tree but no matter how much information I was gathering on the Doyle clan I could not find him. I kept in mind that you should never waste your time trying to link yourself to famous people who have similar names to your ancestors so I didn’t for a number of years.

Until last year when, a bit bored, I decided to start researching the man himself. I suppose it’s obvious to come at the problem from the other angle but I never wanted to waste my time or money on a false avenue but I justified it by thinking to myself that at least I’ll have an interesting time finding out about this man.

I started at his death. He died in 1918 in Paisley aged 53 and from the death certificate I was able to easily find his parents’ names: Allan and Jane (m.s. Downie). I then found that Allan and Jane married on 5th November 1860 at St. Joseph’s Chapel, Milton, Glasgow and from this, the part that made me happy, I saw that Allan’s parents were Daniel Doyle and Mary Rush. I had these two in my tree already as my direct ancestors. So, I had found my link, a bit further back down the tree than expected but, still a link.

My dad was not too far off I suppose if you realise that it was his dad who told him the link - my grandfather was seven when Dan died and, as I discovered when I looked further into his life, he lived a considerable amount of time with our direct ancestors, so I expect he thought of him as an uncle of sorts.

Allan, Dan’s dad, like most of the Irish in Scotland in the 1860s, was, along with his brothers, employed variously as an iron or coal miner or just as a general labourer. Hard work for little pay. Life couldn’t have been good to him as he died of paralysis in August 1870 at the age of 36 in the poor house in Paisley. From what I know of poor houses the families usually are in them together. So Dan, aged only 6, would be in the poor house watching his dad die. The next year it seems that Dan’s mother abandons him as in the 1871 census he’s living with his father’s family and in 1872 she has remarried to the widower Paul Cox, a man ten years her senior.

Dan seems to live with his aunt Cecilia, uncle Felix and miscellaneous others throughout the 1870s and in 1881, aged 16, he is employed as a coal miner himself. However, by 1889 he’s living in Grimsby playing football for Grimsby Town FC. How that happened, I don’t know.

His career didn’t seem to have a great start as at Grimsby he had the dubious honour of being the first player to ever kill a man. The game was against Staveley FC and Dan accidentally kneed centre-forward William Cropper in the stomach. The next day Cropper died, still in the dressing room, of a ruptured bowel and ensuing peritonitis. After this Dan moved to Everton. He lived in a boarding house with about five other Evertonians. He stayed in that team for a year, 1890-91, the season they won their first league championship, and then moved to the almighty Glasgow Celtic.

He was to play a good six seasons for Celtic. While there he was capped for Scotland. At least four times against England: 1892 at Ibrox Park, 1895 at Goodison Park, 1897 at Crystal Palace, 1898 at Celtic Park. And a number of times against Wales and Ireland. He retired in 1899. Doyle, Daniel - Kerrydale Street

This I gleaned for myself just through the internet. I never did much serious research into him when I lived in Glasgow where the Mitchell Library has excellent archives. Not enough old newspapers are online yet for me to do any remote search but, fortunately Dan is still well-remembered by Celtic fans, enough to merit his own book with the fabulous subtitle of “The Life and Death of a Wild Rover”.

Doyle, Dan - Pic


Chums(London, England), Wednesday, January 06, 1897; pg. 317; Issue 226. New Readerships.
Doyle, Daniel - The Celtic Wiki

Everton's accounts 1892 show "an amount recovered from D. Doyle of £69.00

Doyle, Dan - Pic

Doyle, Daniel - The Celtic Wiki

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