A True Celt Remembered.
Today we have a Guest Article by JIMMYNOTPAUL,who gives us his memories of a fella who really did bleed Green and White!
What is a true Celt and who decides?
Life is too short and, indeed, was way,way, too short for someone who I consider to be a true Celt.
Step forward,Johnny Doyle.
It’s only recently that I have truly appreciated how much Johnny gave to our cause and how often he was involved in games of great importance in our history that a younger version of me attended.
On 15 March 1976 Doyle transferred to Celtic for a fee of £90,000. He won two league titles and one Scottish Cup during his time with us.
Johnny Doyle arrived at Celtic Park as a 24-year-old in March 1976,from Ayr United. He hailed from Viewpark, in Uddingston – the very same area of Lanarkshire where Jimmy Johnstone first pulled on a pair of football boots. He wasn’t the greatest player of his generation, but you’d need to search far and wide to find a more committed one. Nor was he adverse to the odd run-in with officialdom, and he wasn’t unfamiliar with the odd red card or early bath.
He was in the side which clinched the title against Hibs at Easter Road in April 1977.
Who could forget August 20th 1977 against Ayr United at Somerset? A miserable day, and I was drenched walking to the ground. We lost 2.1 and Johnny was sent off by referee Bob Cuthill for striking him with the ball by accident and was later to be exonerated by the SFA .
When Davie Provan arrived from Kilmarnock for a huge fee in September 1978 it looked as if Johnny Doyle’s Celtic days were over. However, Johnny buckled down and played in a more central role in the forward line, using his speed with great success. On April 28th 1979 he scored a vital winner against Dundee United at Parkhead to keep Celtic in the League race.
He is perhaps best remembered for being sent off in May 1979 when Celtic were 0-1 down to Rangers in the league deciding game. The Celts roared back to win 4-2 and Tommy Burns used to tell a great story of after the game while the players celebrated wildly, Doylie was sitting inconsolable crying, “Ah let yeez doon, ah let yeez doon”.
His most productive season at Celtic was probably the the 1979/80 season, with the pinnacle being when he scored a memorable headed goal against Real Madrid in the European Cup 2-0 victory on March 5th, although Celtic eventually lost on aggregate.
If Johnny Doyle owed his team mates a debt for his ordering off against Rangers the previous May, then he repaid it in full on February 20th 1980 when he had the game of his life for Celtic.
In the Scottish Cup replay at Love Street against St.Mirren an astonishing crowd of 27,000 turned out to create an electric atmosphere, He equalised before half time and after Saints had gone in front again, it was Johnny Doyle who gained the penalty from which Lennox equalised, after he was scythed in the area. With the game late in extra time and the Celts looking desperately tired Johnny Doyle summoned the energy to run from the halfway line, round goalkeeper Billy Thomson and smash the ball home from a tight angle. Celtic, who had played for 100 minutes with 10 men, had prevailed again.
Johnny Doyle also scored in the 5-0 semi final win over Hibs on April 12th 1980 which set Celtic up for a showdown with Rangers in the final-and in the final, he was seen to be furious at being subbed for Bobby Lennox in extra time. But he was eventually happy after George McCluskey’s winning goal gave Celtic the cup and inadvertently caused an ensuing riot.
With the arrival of Frank McGarvey from Liverpool and the appearance of a young Charlie Nicholas, Johnny Doyle’s appearances were to be limited in 1980/81 although he was on the bench when the League was won at Tannadice on April 22nd 1981. The next season Johnny Doyle had to be satisfied with playing mainly in the reserves and although unhappy at not featuring in the Celtic first team, he refused moves to both Motherwell and Hearts, preferring to stay with his beloved Celtic.
On 19th October 1981 he was involved in a tragic accident. Whilst rewiring the loft of his home in Kilmarnock he was electrocuted and tragically died at just 30 years old. His premature death was a big shock to the whole Celtic support who loved this gallus character.
As happens when a player dies in his prime, his memory lasts longer than others. But in Johnny’s case, we’d have remembered him as fondly even if the tragedy had not have happened.
A Johnny Doyle-related chant emanated after the league win of 1981/82, when The Faithful remembered their departed hero, with the sombre but celebratory chant of “We won the league for Doyle” after beating St Mirren 3-0 at a packed Parkhead on May 15th 1982. In the forthcoming seasons the Jungle were prone to chanting ‘Johnny Doyle on the wing’ in a belated tribute to their hero.
He died a Celt, and he has never left our memories and for those of us who saw him in the green he will always be in their hearts.
May he rest in eternal peace.
Above article by JIMMYNOTPAUL. If you have an article waiting to see the light of day,mail it to Mahe.