Tuesday, 19 October 2010
166 Steve Doyle
Position : Midfield (also played at centre half)
Played : 1990-91 to 1994-5
Appearances : 121
Steve was Terry Dolan's last signing in November 1990, ironically from the club he was about to join. He began his career at Preston where he became their youngest ever debutante in November 1974 a record he held until just recently when they fielded Doyle Middleton in the League Cup. He spent 8 seasons at Preston winning under-23 caps for Wales until Huddersfield bought him in 1982. In his first season they won promotion to the old Second Division and Steve got a reputation as the hatchetman in midfield. He had 4 good seasons at Leeds Road before Lawrie McMenemy signed him for Sunderland declaring him to be "the final piece in the jigsaw". Unfortunately McMenemy proved a disaster at Roker Park and Steve got a fair share of the blame; Sunderland's fans seem to have been the first to have a go at him for negative play. Although Steve was a regular in the side that won the Third Division title and the season that followed there were few tears shed when he left for Hull in 1989. He made 47 appearances for them, some as sweeper, before signing for us.
Steve has to be the most aggravating Dale player of all time. He is the only one whose name featured in a chant of ".... is a wanker !" while he was wearing a Dale shirt. Steve was infuriating because he had ability. He looked good on the ball, tackled well and was surprisingly good in the air for a short guy (mind you, having a big head and thick neck helped). Maybe looking like one of Ken Dodd's Diddymen gave him the fiery temperament that had earned him a red card total that was in double figures. He was also very fit for his age; not many 32-year olds are stil playing for us four years later.
The downside was his ultra-negativity. Not only does everyone remember his one and only goal -a low drive at home to Chester in October 1993) but you can almost remember all his shots they were so few and far between. Sometimes he would get into a position to shoot and turn his back on the goal laying it off to someone in a far inferior position. This was what triggered the criticism to which he reacted with an "up yours" salute. Hence the wanker chant. Steve's place in the side seemed guaranteed under Dave Sutton an old team-mate from Huddersfield and from August 1992 he formed a less than dynamic partnership with Shaun Reid. It was well-known that Steve was the highest paid player and I recall a well known Dale stalwart's rant away at Northampton :
I can't believe how bad our midfield is. One's got no brains, the other's got no legs. Reid wins it then gives it away again and Doyle - £600 a week for half a dozen square balls ! That's £100 per square ball !
My favourite Doyle moment was in the final game of the 1992-93 season, a meaningless match at home to Chesterfield in which Dale were chugging away to a 2-0 win despite Steve delivering an absolute masterclass in how to give the ball away. Halfway through the second half he managed a ten yard square pass to a team-mate and there was a huge ironic cheer from the crowd which Steve acknowledged with a wave as if he'd done something incredible.
In March 1994 Dale signed a new midfield player Jason Peake although he was initially stuck out on the wing. A month later Dale played at Wycombe and Steve had to play at the back where we were short. Jason took his place in the centre and was superb. From that point on even Sutton seemed to accept that Steve's days were drawing to a close and he played less in the following season although he put in a dire performance at the back away at Torquay in November 1994.
When Sutton was sacked, Steve was rumoured to have put an application in but he wasn't interviewed. Nevertheless when Mick Docherty was finally told to continue as boss he didn't want Steve around and he was allowed to rejoin Sutton, newly installed at Chorley. Steve was player -coach and briefly took over when Sutton resigned. I've no idea what he's up to these days