Born in Arbroath, Angus, John Edward “Ned” Doig began his career as an outside right with local junior club St. Helena. He moved to Arbroath F.C. in 1884 after a member of the crowd shouted “let Doig play!” prior to a reserve team kick off; Arbroath were without a goalkeeper and the young Ned Doig was in the audience. He spent two seasons in the reserves before breaking through to the first team in 1886 at the age of 19. He achieved two full Scottish international caps whilst with Arbroath, and remains the club’s highest capped player, being first capped against Ireland at Hampden Park in February 1887 and then against the same opponents in March 1889 at Ibrox.
In November 1889 Doig was signed by Blackburn Rovers. After one game the same month (a little known fact that he made his Football League debut for Rovers against Notts County and not for Sunderland), he had a disagreement with the Lancashire club and decided to return home. In 1890, Doig returned to England to play for Sunderland. However, because Doig had not been registered with the club for seven days, and therefore was still effectively a Blackburn player, the Football League deemed him ineligible for his debut game at West Bromwich Albion that September. As Sunderland did play him, they were fined and deducted two points.
Doig went on to be an ever present in goal for the Wearsiders, and in the 14 seasons he spent at the club, won four League Championships in the process in 1892, 1893, 1895 and 1902, in an era where the Sunderland team were dubbed the ‘Team of All Talents’. Over 14 seasons he made 459 appearances for The Wearsiders and appeared for Sunderland in their losing FA Cup semi-final appearances of 1891, 1892 and 1895, without ever appearing in an FA Cup Final. Noted for his exceptional performances in goal, he was also famously shy of his bald head, and always wore a cap. If during a football game the cap blew off at any point, he would chase after it rather than concentrate on the game.
He gained his further four (one void) Scottish international caps at Sunderland, the first in a 2-1 victory over England at Celtic Park in April 1896, which was the first ever international game with a crowd of over 50,000, and also broke England’s (still) record of twenty consecutive wins. He then played against the English in April 1899 at Villa Park, then he was in goal for the voided April 1902 Ibrox Disaster match when 25 fans were killed in a collapse on the terracing, and finally in April 1903 at Bramall Lane.
Doig signed for recently relegated Liverpool for a fee of £150 in August 1904. In his first season with the Merseysiders, he helped the club achieve immediate promotion back to the top division as Second Division Champions. However, the next season saw his place lost to future England star Sam Hardy, playing only 8 times as Liverpool won the League Championship. He played his last game in April 1908, at the age of 41 years and 165 days, which is still a Liverpool record. He finished his career with the amateur club St. Helens Recreation in the Lancashire League after 53 appearances for Liverpool, finally retiring in 1910.
The place to properly read about Ned Doig’s amazing life and football career is here: http://www.doigsden.co.uk/NedDoig.htm
NB This photograph was taken on 2nd September 1905 in the match Arsenal v Liverpool First Division match (the first game of the season) at Plumstead. Arsenal won 3-1. Note, Doig is wearing the same coloured jersey as the outfield players, a practice that was phased out soon thereafter.