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Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle rose from child-hood hardships to play in three FA Cup Finals and win five Irish Caps…

Name: Peter Boyle
Born: 26 April 1876, Carlingford
Died: 24 June 1939, Doncaster (England)
Ht: 5.10 ft
Wt: 12.07 st
Position: Left-Back

Representative Honours:
Ireland: 5 Full Caps (1901-1904).
Club Honours: (with Sunderland) Football League Runner-Up 1897/98; (with Sheffield United) Football League Runner-Up 1899/00; FA Cup Winner 1898/99, 1901/02, Runner-Up 1900/01.

Club Career:
FA Cup
Coatbridge Gaelic
Albion Rovers
Sheffield United
Clapton Orient
Wigan Town
(Lancashire Combination)
(Lancashire Combination)
Eccles Borough
(Lancashire Combination)
York City
(Midland League)
(Yorkshire League)

In the 1870s a large Irish community migrated to Coatbridge near Glasgow, Peter Boyle’s family among them. Originally from Carlingford, Co. Louth, they hoped their move to Scotland would present them with an opportunity of a livelihood not available in Ireland at that time.

A "robust" player with top-class kicking and a fine tackle who proved a determined opponent, it was with Coatbridge Gaelic that Boyle’s footballing career began. He moved to the big local team, Albion Rovers and from there to Sunderland, at that time a dominant force in English football. In his first season however the club struggled, with Boyle still finding his feet he played just five League games, and Sunderland were forced to take part in the end-of-season Promotion/Relegation Test Matches. With Boyle in the team they lost one and drew one of the first two matches. Boyle was dropped for the last two games of the series, and it was only thanks to a 2-0 win over Newton Heath in the final match that their position in the top-flight status was maintained - a status they held until 1958!

Improvement was virtually immediate, as Sunderland finished runners-up to Sheffield United in the 1897/98 season, Boyle taking the field in 23 out of the 30 possible games. The following season Boyle once again found himself out of the team, and he played just once, in a 3-0 win over Bury in October, before a mid-season transfer to Sheffield United.

To thumb his nose in the direction of Roker Park, Peter Boyle finished his first season in Sheffield with an FA Cup winner’s medal, as he played in a 4-1 final win over Derby County. The following season he just missed out on a further winner’s medal, Sheffield United finishing just two points behind Aston Villa in the race for the League title.

Although the 1900/01 season brought a disappointing League campaign, Sheffield United finishing in a lowly fourteenth place, they did reach the FA Cup Final once again, losing out to Southern League Tottenham Hotspur (the only non-Football League winners since the League’s formation in 1888). The season also brought Boyle’s first international recognition; the Irish FA, realising his place of birth, including him in the team which lost 3-0 to England at the Dell in March 1901.

The following season brought a second cap, once again against England, as Boyle returned ‘home’ for a 1-0 defeat in Belfast. He could have added further caps to his collection but on several occasions rejected call-ups to turn-out for the Blades. Once again the Blades reached the FA Cup Final, this time requiring a replay to see-off Southampton 2-1 after a 1-1 draw. The star of the Sheffield United at this time was undoubtedly goalkeeper Willie “Fatty” Foulkes, but he was undoubtedly helped out by accomplished defenders such as Boyle playing in front of him.

The 1903 Home Nations campaign was undoubtedly Ireland’s most successful up to that point, Boyle playing in 2-0 wins over Wales and Scotland - but missing the 4-0 defeat to England - that saw Ireland break the England-Scotland monopoly. The title was shared three ways for the first time in its history between the English, Scots and Irish. On the domestic point Sheffield United ran the Championship close, eventually finishing fourth with local rivals Wednesday claiming the trophy.

The 1903/04 season was Boyle’s last with Sheffield United, and also saw him win his fifth and final cap, in a 3-1 defeat by England in Belfast. After 150 League appearances for the Blades, Boyle moved back to his adopted Scotland, signing for Motherwell. He could do little to stop the finishing bottom of the Scottish First Division, and after just one season Boyle returned to the Football League with Clapton Orient. It was an unspectacular season for the club, as they finished seventeenth in the Second Division, just missing out on having to apply for re-election.

From Clapton Boyle moved back to the north of England, taking in a succession of non-League clubs, before joining York City as player-manager in 1912. The club had just turned professional and joined the Midland League. In August 1914 they were invited to a meeting to discuss the formation of a Third Division of the Football League, but war broke out before any actions could be taken. Without any gate money, York City folded in 1917. During the Great War Boyle served with the 29th Division at Cape Hellas and Surla Bay.

His playing days ended as player-coach with Brodsworth Colliery where he worked as a miner and was steward of a pub in the area. He September 1919 it was reported that he had been appointed manager-coach at Welsh side, Abbeville. He lived for around 20 years in Woodlands, a model village constructed for workers at Brodworth Colliery. He then relocated to Doncaster in the 1930s, where he lived out his final years.

In 1925 Sheffield United found itself in a unique situation when Peter’s son Tommy and Harry Johnson Junior, son of one of Peter’s contemporaries in the 1899 and 1902 FA Cup Finals, appeared in the club’s 1-0 Cup Final victory over Cardiff City.

Football Fever

Ireland Cap Details:
09-03-1901 England. A L 0-3 BC
22-03-1902 England. H L 0-1 BC
21-03-1903 Scotland A W 2-0 BC
28-03-1903 Wales... H W 2-0 BC
12-03-1904 England. H L 1-3 BC

Summary: 5/0. Won 2, Drew 0, Lost 3.

Based on the work of George Glass, Peter Brown and others.


Peter Boyle was my grandfather and this is the most complete football biography I've read about him. Thanks. Monty Brown.
Unknown said…
Another excellent piece JCD, very helpful for my research too
jcd said…
Cheers bertmart, though credit for this one belongs largely to George Glass.
Peter Brown said…
Peter left York City in 1913 to take up a post with the Brodsworth Colliery.

During the Great War Peter joined up in 1915 served in first the Army Service Corps, where he was at Gallipoli, probably Suvla Bay. In 1917 he was transferred to the reorganized Labour Corps.

He returned to Brodsworth after his discharge.

In September 1919 the Sheffield Daily Telegraph reported that Peter had accepted a post as manager and coach of the Abbeville (Mons) Football Team in the Second Division of the Southern League and the Welsh League. What became of that I can't find any record. However Peter was associated with Brodsworth from the early 1920s.

The information regarding the Wharncliffe Charity Cup Medal is not correct. The medal was awarded to Peter's son Tom.