16 September 2006

Fay Coyle

A star of the Irish League, a disappointment in the Football League; perhaps Fay Coyle just wasn't meant to leave these shores...

Name: Francis Coyle
Born: 1 April 1933*, Londonderry

Died: 30 March 2007, Londonderry
Height: 6.00 ft
Weight: 11.00 st

Position: Centre-Forward

Representative Honours: Nothern Ireland: 4 Full Caps (1955-1958), 2 Amateur Caps / 1 Goal (1954); Irish League: 5 Caps / 4 Goals (1955-1962).
Club Honours: (with Coleraine) Gold Cup Winner 1955/56; City Cup Winner 1954/55, Runner-Up 1955/56; Ulster Cup Runner-Up 1954/55, 1955/56, 1962/63; (with Derry City) Irish League Champion 1964/65; Irish Cup Winner 1963/64; Gold Cup Winner 1964/65.

Club Career:

Clubs
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
Europe
Other
Derry City
52/53-53/54
-
Amateur
± /  6
-
-
-
Doncaster Rovers
-
Oct-53
Trial
0/  0
-
-
-
Coleraine
53/54-57/58
*Nov-53
-
-
-
-
-
Nottingham Forest
57/58
Mar-58
-
3/  0
-
-
-
Coleraine
58/59-62/63
c/s-58
-
# 348/241
-
-
-
Derry City
63/64-65/66
c/s-63
-
± / 75
-
3/0
-
TOTALS
£-
/322
-
3/0
-

* As a professional (further details in text). ± All domestic games. # All domestic games both spells.


Biography:
A gifted centre-forward, forever in the sights of English football, Fay Coyle starred in the Irish League with Derry City and Coleraine for a number of years. As a youngster he played mainly Gaelic football and played for the Derry County team. His first significant taste of "soccer" came as he featured for Derry City Reserves during the 1952/53 season. On 12th September 1953, with only a few Ulster Cup appearances under his belt, Coyle was selected for Amateur Ireland against England at Coleraine Showgrounds - he scored the second goal in a 2-1 win.

Through the 1953/54 season Coyle led a somewhat nomadic period. Having begun the season as a Derry City player, he was with Coleraine at the time of his second Amateur Cap, against South Africa on the 10th October. He played for Derry on 17th October and on the 24th he joined Doncaster Rovers on trial. Then, on 26th November, he signed his first professional contract, with Coleraine. Still, on 19th December he featured for Derry City against Portadown before committing himself fully to Coleraine!

Coyle's best season with Coleraine was perhaps the 1954/55 when he top-scored in the Irish League with 20 goals (35 in all competitions) and won a City Cup winner’s medal. In April 1955 he scored four against Ards on a Thursday, three against Distillery on the Saturday and on the Wednesday he put six past Shamrock Rovers while guesting for Derry - 13 goals in a week! His performances brought him to the attentions of Peter Doherty and the Irish selectors seeking a solution to their perennial search for a reliable goalscorer. He made his debut in a 2-1 Home Nations victory over Scotland, and retained his place for the following months defeat by England.



Finally, after years of trying, Nottingham Forest prised Coyle away from Coleraine in March 1958. He played just three times for Forest, but interestingly never at the City Ground, before returning homesick to Coleraine in the summer of 1958. Disappointing club form did not however dissuade Doherty from including Coyle in the squad for the World Cup in Sweden. Northern Ireland’s ongoing centre-forward problem was extended by an injury to Billy Simpson in the run-up to tournament, and Coyle was given a chance against Argentina. The game ended in a 3-1 defeat, in what turned out to be Coyle’s last cap.

Back in the Irish League, Coyle added to his collection of North-West Senior Cup medals as Coleraine defeated Derry City in the 1959 and 1960 finals. His rich vein of form brought three more instances of four goals in a match - one each in 1959, 1960 and 1961 - and a five, as Bangor were defeated 7-4 in the City Cup in September 1961.

In 1963 Coyle returned to Derry City, and captained them to the most successful period in their Irish League history. In 1964 he led them to an Irish Cup final victory over Glentoran, and consequently into Europe for the first time in their history. The next season, during which he managed four goals in a 10-1 rout of Cliftonville, Derry claimed their only Irish League title, adding the Gold Cup for good measure. Age had done little to diminish Coyle's goalscoring touch and in his last three seasons he scored 44 Irish League goals (75 in all competitions) , making a grand total of 322 goals in Irish football.

Coyle would witness at close quarters the hardships through which Derry went through the 1970s and ‘80s. He also had the honour of seeing his son, Liam emerge as a leading light in the club’s resurgence in the League of Ireland, and put the family name back into the Northern Ireland team.

Fay Coyle passed away in March 2007.


Derry City Profile
Coleraine Profile

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
08-10-1955 Scotland. H W 2-1 BC
02-11-1955 England.. A L 0-3 BC
16-01-1957 Portugal. A D 1-1 WCQ
11-06-1958 Argentina N L 1-3 WCF

Summary: 4/0. Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 2.


Northern Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
12-09-1953 England..... H W 2-1 1 Goal
10-10-1953 South Africa H L 2-5

Summary: 2/1. Won 1, Drew 0, Lost 1.


* Many sources incorrectly list Coyle's date of birth as 1 April 1924. 1933 has been confirmed with his birth certificate by George Glass.


Additional details and goslcoring feats by George Glass. Photos from "A History of Derry City 1929-1972" (WHW Platt) and "Coleraine FC - A History" (Grant Cameron).

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