Alan Biley: Farewell to player’s player Doyle from a great Portsmouth team

Bobby Doyle, who made 188 appearances for Pompey, passed away on Tuesday aged 65
Bobby Doyle, who made 188 appearances for Pompey, passed away on Tuesday aged 65
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Alan Biley has paid tribute to a ‘player’s player’ after Fratton Park bid farewell to another favourite son.

Midfielder Bobby Doyle passed away on Tuesday at the age of 65.

The Scot made 188 appearances, scoring 18 times, and memorably was a mainstay of the side which clinched the Division Three title in 1982-83.

The loss of Doyle is felt during a period when the Blues are still mourning the death of another powerful midfield performer in Mick Kennedy.

The flamboyant Biley played alongside both during a south-coast career which ultimately would earn induction into the Pompey Hall of Fame.

And the free-scoring striker remembers Doyle as the granite-chiselled central midfielder who started 44 of the Blues’ 46 matches during that successful campaign under Bobby Campbell.

Biley said: ‘Bobby was very underestimated.

‘He had probably one of the best engines I’d ever known, he could go all day, and was like granite as well. When you think we had him alongside Mick Tait at times it was quite awesome.

‘He was a silent assassin, not a person you would hear shouting a lot, whereas Micky Kennedy was more in your face.

‘But it discredits Bobby to call him a kicker, he was very strong at tackling, could stop things from happening, but had the wherewithal to start things again. I remember vividly him taking the ball and running 30-40 yards with it because he had great legs and lungs.

‘He was a very underestimated player, not somebody at the time greatly talked about, he just went about his business, one of those players you all need in the side and a player's player.

‘I used to say the same about Billy Rafferty. There was a lot more to Billy’s game than many people saw, but the biggest thing for me was he was a player’s player – and that’s what Bobby Doyle was.

‘That is the biggest accolade I can say about him. We were all pleased when we saw him on the teamsheet because he actually did an important job for us.

‘He allowed the Neil Webbs of this world to express themselves and was a great giver of the ball, not one trying to overly impress himself, like us Flash Harrys up front.

‘If you speak to most he played with, he was unassuming off the park but a steely character on it who never backed out of anything. He was a great player to have in your side.’

Doyle is the second player to pass away from that 1982-83 promotion side.

Skipper Steve Aizlewood died in August 2013, while manager Campbell passed in November 2015.

Biley, who was The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season and 26-goal leading scorer that campaign, himself turned 62 on Tuesday.

And such recent losses have hit him.

He added: ‘It's a huge shock, that’s two players from that side gone now – and none of them were any age.

‘It’s the same with Micky Kennedy – and it does make you think about “Wow, where has the time gone?”.

‘But also you think to yourself, “Weren’t they great times” – and Bobby Doyle made that happen.’