One of the things I love about doing this is coming across pictures of players in their Scotland strip or in this case tracksuit, when they only played for Scotland a couple of times. In Johnny’s case it was only one appearance in December, 1975 in a European Qualifier against Romania at Hampden. Scotland were at this point in transition; the team that did so valiantly at the World Cup in 1974 had started badly in their European campaign losing to Spain at Hampden and although we did manage to draw in both Spain and Romania that home loss had seen us play catch up to Spain all the way.
By the time of the Romania game, Scotland had also lost their inspirational captain, Billy Bremner after a night out in Copenhagen after a qualifier went awry and Billy among others was given a lifetime ban. Of the team that lined up that night only Martin Buchan, Kenny Dalglish and substitute Peter Lorimer had played in the previous years’ World Cup.
Also making his debut that night was Andy Gray, then of Aston Villa. The game ended up one each with Bruce Rioch netting for Scotland in front of a paltry 11,375 crowd. Looking back at Johnny’s one cap it is surprising that at the time he was an Ayr United player. Not the most fashionable of teams and indeed prior to Johnny’s cap that night, the last player to play for Scotland as an ‘Honest Man’ was Bob Hepburn winning is only cap in 1931. No United player has represented Scotland since although both Stevie Nicol and Gary Teale were capped as Under 21 players with Ayr before progressing to full honours playing for Liverpool and Derby County respectively.
The other surprise is that it was Willie Ormond and not Ally Macleod who gave Johnny his one and only cap. Macleod prior to managing Scotland had turned Ayr United in the late 60’s and early 70’s into a formidable force in Scottish football, which ultimately led to his taking over after Ormond resigned in April ’77. Of course, Ayr United were also managed by another future Scotland manager, who shall remain nameless at this point. As for Johnny Doyle, let’s face it, after his move to a certain team in the East End of Glasgow; if you didn’t support them you probably hated him, such was his commitment to the Celtic cause. Johnny was a fast, tenacious battler of a player, whom we would all have loved on our team but loathed in the opposition, he was also as one Celtic site refers to him as a ‘one man riot’. Johnny was well known for his, less than amicable relationships with referees.
As to his answers in the article they show his love for Celtic but also his affection for his time at Ayr United and a bit of his humour. His favourite players were Jimmy Johnstone and George ‘Dandy’ McLean. George would have played alongside Johnny at Somerset Park, in his long career as a bustling centre forward, George also played for St. Mirren, Rangers, Dundee and Dunfermline and like Johnny was capped once for Scotland against the Netherlands in 1968.
His most difficult opponent is listed as Tam Cowan’s favourite; Motherwell’s Joe Wark. Biggest Thrill was signing for Celtic but his Biggest Disappointment was leaving my friends at Ayr. Most memorable match was his International debut. His favourite food is of course steak but among his miscellaneous dislikes is one-sided disciplinary hearings and among his biggest drags in football are suspensions and fines! Favourite singers are not 70’s lounge singers at least but Status Quo and Nazareth, he was also a big fan of Benny Hill and the Two Ronnies. His favourite actor is Steve McQueen and actress is Julie Ege (a photo of her is a must for this article!) and finally his biggest influence on his career was Ally MacLeod and United captain Johnny Graham.
Sadly Johnny died after being electrocuted at home in 1981 at the age of 30, however loved or loathed him Johnny played for Scotland and that’s what we at the Epistles choose to remember.
First posted on Facebook June 20th, 2015