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Blue Blood: The Mike Doyle Story

Release date: 18th February, 2004
Publisher: Parrs Wood Press

List Price: £17.99
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Blue Blood: The Mike Doyle Story
By Mike Doyle and David Clayton

To say that if you were to cut Mike Doyle his blood would ooze out in the same light blue colour of Manchester City's shirts is an understatement of the highest order. This tough, uncompromising defender played 558 times for City during a career which spanned 16 years and became an iconic figure for the club's supporters.

The publicity release which accompanied this book refers to Doyle as being "famed for his aversion to Manchester United" which is as polite a description of out-and-out hatred as you're ever likely to see. Doyle's story is interspersed with regular comments about the red half of Manchester, the majority of which cannot be reproduced in a family newspaper. He calls George Best's liver operation "a waste of a transplant÷there must be more deserving cases out there" which is as close as he gets to praising anything to do with Old Trafford.

But it would be unfair to categorise this book as the bitter ramblings of a former professional footballer. Mike Doyle was the last Manchester City captain to win a major trophy as he formed an integral part of an outstanding football team which dominated English football in the early 1970s.

In the period between 1968 and 1976, Doyle's Manchester City won the league championship, the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners Cup and the League Cup twice. As a player, Doyle stood on the very edge of greatness and many football supporters at the time wondered why he never won more than a handful of international caps. But matters at Maine Road began to fall apart when the Joe Mercer / Malcolm Allison relationship began to cool and Mercer ultimately left City in Allison's sole charge.

Certainly, Doyle is in no doubt about where the blame lay for City blowing the title in 1972: squarely at Rodney Marsh's door. Marsh, he believes, was unable to play for the sake of the team and, as a consequence, he became more than a 'show pony' in Doyle's eyes.

Mike Doyle joined Manchester City in 1962 and rose rapidly through the club's junior ranks before making his debut against Cardiff City in 1965 when his first assignment was to mark the great John Charles. By 1968 City were champions in a team which had players of the calibre of Colin Bell, Francis lee and Mike Summerbee to the fore.

This was the pinnacle of Doyle's career and was to lead ultimately to a call up to the 1970 England World Cup squad. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from the trip to Mexico as his wife was dangerously ill. There are English supporters today who maintain that had Doyle and not Alan Mullery played in the quarter final clash with West Germany, it would have been England, not Italy, who would have faced Brazil in the final.

As Doyle's footballing glory began to fade, he turned more frequently to the bottle and regularly consumed a litre of spirits each day; alcoholism inevitably followed and with it the destruction of his family life as the drink nearly killed him.

In many respects, this biography is not dissimilar to the man himself - rugged, obstinate and best summed up by the book's final line, "Wherever I end up, my blood will always run blue. I wouldn't have it any other way." Uncompromising to the finish.

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