On this day in 1919, former Sunderland goalkeeper Ned Doig passed away at the age of 53, a victim of the Spanish Flu Epidemic. The Scottish shot-stopper made over 400 appearances for the lads between 1890 and 1904.
Initially Doig came to England when he signed for Blackburn Rovers from Arbroath. However, after just one game he had a disagreement with Rovers and returned to Scotland.
He then signed for Sunderland in 1890, but Sunderland were fined for giving Doig his debut. Because he hadn’t been registered on Wearside for a week, the Football League deemed the keeper to still be a Blackburn player and therefore ineligible to play. The Black Cats were fined and deducted two points.
Doig spent 14 seasons at Sunderland, and was part of our greatest ever sides. The team was named ‘The Team of All the Talents’, picking up four championship medals with Doig between the sticks. Despite his success as a goalkeeper, he only reached a height of 5ft 9” tall.
He famously hated being bald, so always wore a cap to disguise it. Opponents used to try to pull it off, and it was widely known that if it was between the hat and the ball, Doig would always chase after his hat!
The Scottish keeper’s international career was halted after moving to Wearside, as the Scottish FA refused to call up any players who were playing in England. However, the rule was eventually relaxed in 1896 and Doig was reintroduced to the Scotland squad, although he never earned the number of caps that he deserved. His Scotland career spanned 16 years, which was a record for Scotland until goalkeepers David Marshall and ex-Sunderland man Craig Gordon both broke the record in 2020.
After a lengthy and illustrious spell at Sunderland, Doig moved to Liverpool for £150. He was 37 years old by that time, but still started in goal for the Reds. However, he eventually lost his place to England international Sam Hardy.
Ned retired from football aged 41, and remains Liverpool’s oldest ever player. He sadly passed away at 53 years old; a victim of the Spanish Flu in November 1919. Doig remains one of Sunderland’s greatest players, nicknamed the ‘Prince of Goalkeepers’ during his playing time.
RIP NED DOIG