This year has been the best of times and the worst of times for Manchester City. Whilst the club embraces a new era of prosperity and success its past is being consigned to history in the cruellest way imaginable.
Already the euphoria of experiencing their most successful season for generations has been sobered by the sad passing of Malcolm Allison, their fedora-wearing Mourinho, and Neil Young, who will forever be remembered for his FA Cup winning strike in ’69. Now today blues must mourn another great: Mike Doyle.
Whilst Big Malc was City’s flamboyance and gentleman, Young its class, Doyle was the beating heart and soul. He was Manchester City.
A granite colossus who played nearly half a century of games at centre back and midfield – wherever he was most needed to galvanize – Doyle symbolised the qualities that we most miss from the modern game; loyalty, whole-hearted commitment, and a shared abhorrence of the fan’s rivals.
His hatred of United was legendary. As one blue put it this morning – ‘He was the original Mr 100%. When it came to playing United Mr 200%’.
Whilst today’s players kiss the badge to pledge an erroneous and shallow devotion Doyle instead wore the shirt like a second skin. The badge was damn near a tattoo. He proved his passion with actions, not words, and his ferocious tenacity was allied with an abundance of talent that saw him win England caps whilst leading his beloved Manchester City to both domestic and European glories.
Typical of the man and his character he did not spend his retirement burnishing his reputation and legend
In an age when the word talent has been denigrated to such a degree that people who can do back-flips on talent shows are attributed with the moniker Mike Doyle was of an age when the word truly meant something.
Yet typical of the man and his character he did not spend his retirement burnishing his reputation and legend, reminding people of his achievements. The club always came first.
In an interview in 2009 Doyle urged the current team to consign him to the history books once and for all.
“If I’m honest, I get a bit tired of me being the last City player to lead a winning team at Wembley,” said Doyle. “Obviously I’m proud, but the longer it goes on, the longer it means we haven’t won anything.”
It’s a small but significant blessing that provides genuine comfort to know that before he succumbed to liver failure and left us at the age of sixty-four he witnessed Carlos Tevez lift aloft the FA Cup in May. The Argentine was a player Doyle admired ‘Because he has a fire in his belly’. It was not necessary to add ‘like myself’.
City’s future looks bright - there is a blue moon rising. Tonight and forever more there is another star shining up alongside it.
RIP Mike Doyle. I could say a thousand words but two are sufficient to encapsulate my feelings today; on behalf of myself and every blue out there….thank you.
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