Obituary Dan Kirkwood

Saturday, January 19 – 1929
It is only to be expected that the immutable laws of nature should now be taking liberal toll of football players who were in zenith of their fame about half a century ago, and in recent months a few of those who were famous in the Falkirk district in their day have “crossed the bourne.”

Last week the death was recorded in the Press of Danny Kirkwood, who since the early 90’s, had been located in Liverpool, where for a good number of years he was a hotel keeper.

I observe in a Glasgow contemporary an old player refers to the death of Kirkwood, and with the appreciation of the little man and his then Liverpool confreres I heartily agree. But when it comes to facts there is another story to tell. The article in question was a signed one, and the writer a well-known internationalist.

After stating that Kirkwood played for Broxburn before he crossed the Border, and that he was out of working owing to a shale miners’ strike, the writer states that Kirkwood and another great Dan – Dan Doyle – decided to take that road to Liverpool. ‘And they walked all the way.’

With the lapse of time, the writer must have got his facts mixed up a bit!

Neither of the players mentioned travelled direct from Broxburn to Liverpool. They joined East Stirlingshire about the year 1887, and it was during a return journey from Airth Games to Falkirk that the two Dans agreed to join East Stirlingshire.

The then secretary of East Stirlingshire, who still takes an interest in the old club, was one of the “interviewers” on the “horse shay” that did duty as the mode of conveyance from Airth Games in these days.

Football players were “amateurs” then, and all worked more or less at a job apart from football, but it was an open secret that in not a few cases players received payment for playing by finding “something in their boots” at the close of the game.

I remember receiving information – but which has never appeared in print – as to the first club committee in the Falkirk district that proposed to “lift” a player from an adjoining club – and pay him. It was before the day of the two Dans.

Doyle and Kirkwood did yeoman service for East Stirlingshire in 1887 and 1888, the former as a left back, and Kirkwood as a half-back, and later as an inside forward. Doyle had as a partner Bob Wilson, now a director of the Falkirk Club.

Doyle left East Sirlingshire a considerable time before Kirkwood, and instead of going direct to Everton, he went to Sunderland Albion, a club long since gone. Doyle had a period with the Grimsby Club ere he landed at Liverpool. It was then that he sent word north for Kirkwood to come south.

In the meantime Kirkwood had become a bit of an expert in the moulding trade, and before he left he was one of the best paid moulders in Castlelaurie Foundry, where he was engaged in making rice-bow’s.

This goes to prove that Danny did not tramp to Liverpool, and it is certain from the files of the Falkirk Herald that Kirkwood achieved what was considered a great honour – namely, to play for the Stirlingshire Association in an inter-county match, such as then took place against Forfar, Fife, and Linlithgow shires.

Doyle’s travelling days were not finished at Liverpool, as he was subsequently a famous player for the Celtic. Kirkwood, however, remained in Liverpool. He played until a broken leg terminated his football career on the field, but he was subsequently a director of the Everton Club – one of the wealthiest clubs in England.

There was a big difference in physique between the two Dans – Doyle was a big hefty player, who could use his weight to advantage; Kirkwood was a somewhat small insignificant-looking chap, with no great speed, but a grand manipulator of the ball.

I think the appellation applied to the two by the man in the street fitly described the two – in the one case it was Dan Doyle (a player whose appearance one could admire), but in the case of Kirkwood it was the more lovable “Danny.” The wee man was always smiling.

The last occasion on which I saw him was at an English international at Hampden Park, when he came along to the press-box and we had a few words together. Now both Dans are gone. “Peace to their ashes.”
(Falkirk Herald, 19-01-1929)

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