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dan doyle book review

Dan Doyle: The Life and Death of a Wild Rover by Marie Rowan, with a foreword by Neil Lennon; Black and White Publishing; 192 pages; Paperback; £7.99

Legendary Scotland and Celtic captain Dan Doyle was a character unlike any other, before or since, in the world of football. A brilliant player but with a stormy temper and a troubled relationship with gambling and drink, Doyle’s life on and off the pitch makes for an incredible story.

Until his retirement in 1899, Doyle was always a controversial figure. Involved in an on-pitch incident that resulted in the death of another player, prone to vocal outbursts against opponents, referees and the FA and even the subject of a prolonged campaign in the English press to have him permanently banned from playing in the country, Doyle never tempered his character. He was free to do as he liked because of his incredible gift as a footballer and because a Celtic or Scotland team with him was infinitely better than one without him.

Including a wealth of material scoured from the many interviews the always outspoken Doyle gave, “Dan Doyle: The Life and Death of a Wild Rover” is the story of Scotland’s first bad-boy football superstar.
This is an excellent biography of Dan Doyle written by someone who is clearly an expert in the early years of the history of Celtic Football Club.

Dan Doyle always was a mystery, one of the many brilliant players with a tendency to self-destruct. Yet he was a tremendous player for whom the Celtic and Scotland supporters had a great deal of affection in spite of his many faults. On at least two occasions he failed to turn up for important games, yet everyone still talked about him in reverential terms.

Marie Rowan deals with her subject admirably, without making any attempt to gloss over what Dan did. It is ultimately a rather sad book in that so much talent can be wasted, but that was what Dan was like.

The book is well worth buying, not least for it being a valuable insight to Victorian football.

DW Potter

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