A Tale Of Two Blues Pioneers
by Matt Keane
(first published in the July 2011 Longford Town match programme)
You’ll have read in a previous programme about Dick Forshaw, a pioneer who linked both Liverpool and Everton before arriving in Waterford to kickstart the Blues’ adventure. Contrary to popular belief, the Waterford side of the time did have a coach too, and that man was a Dubliner called Jack Doran, another who had enjoyed a chequered career in English football, with clubs such as Norwich City, Gillingham and Brighton and Hove Albion. He was followed by Charlie Pringle, who also enjoyed a somewhat colourful career in the game. It is ever worth remembering what happened 80-odd years ago when these imported pioneers helped begin an extraordinary story that still continues to thrill and enthrall us to this very day.
John Francis “Jack” Doran was born in Dublin on January 3rd, 1896 but he was brought up in the North East of England. He was discovered playing junior football in Newcastle. In May 1914 he signed for Coventry City but he played just one game for them, scoring twice before he joined the Army that September. While serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps he was awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal for his service.
After the war, Jack Doran resumed his playing career with Norwich City and then with Brighton and Hove Albion. In seasons 1920-21 and 1921-22 with Brighton he proved to be a prolific goalscorer. It was feats such as his five goal haul in a 7-0 Division Three (South) victory over Northampton in November 1921 and a total return of 55 goals in 85 games that convinced the Irish selectors of his potential and he played three times for his country, twice against England and once against Wales. At that time there was only one Irish team (Free State). He was transferred to Manchester City for the season 1922-23 but things did not work out for him at Maine Road in the First Division so he moved down to Division Three (North) with Crewe Alexandra, but he just could not regain the form which made him a big star at Brighton and many years of travelling came into play for Doran before he arrived in Waterford to coach the new Blues.
Before he was put in place here in Waterford he played for Mid-Rhondda United, Shelbourne and Fordsons in Ireland before returning to England to play for Boston United in the Midland League. He made an instant impact with the Blues with an attacking approach, and winning the Shield – a major trophy at the time – proved that fact, but after only two seasons in senior football, Waterford went back to play in the Munster Senior League before they returned once again in 1935. Jack Doran went on to join Shelbourne for a time afterwards. The people who were running the club found it impossible to fund the travel and player costs and that was the reason for pulling out of the League.
Sadly Jack Doran died a young man. He was only 44 years old when he passed away on January 25th 1940. The years serving in the Army and his time carving out a name for himself in football probably took its toll on a man who should be etched into the glorious history of Waterford football. He died in the area where he was reared, the North East of England, in Sunderland.
When Waterford returned to the League in 1935 it was decided to opt for a Scottish born man to coach the new squad of players who had been put together to try and get the Blues back on to the soccer map. The club went for a man called Charles Ross Pringle.
Charlie Pringle was born in Nitshill, South Glasgow on 18th of October, 1894. A small man, only 5′ 7” tall, he was a wing-half. His first professional club was St Mirren for whom he signed during World War 1, He got his one and only Scottish cap on February 12th when Scotland defeated Wales 2-1. He signed for Manchester City in 1922 and he played in every City game for over a year. He was a member of the Manchester City team which played in the 1926 FA Cup final, a game Bolton won 1-0. Later on he was appointed captain and he won a Second Division medal with City in season 1927-28 before leaving to be part of a new venture to form a new club called Manchester Central F.C. When that plan did not work out, Charlie Pringle went on to play for Bradford Park Avenue, Lincoln City and Stockport County.
When his playing days came to an end he launched his coaching career and after returning to his first club, St Mirren, he eventually came to Waterford, and his work probably resulted in Waterford winning the FAI Cup in 1937, although he had left prior to that historic triumph. There is a very interesting fact about Charlie Pringle. During his time with Manchester City he married a girl called Lily Meredith. She was the daughter of Billy Meredith, the Manchester City legend, and as a result the pair played together on seven occasions on the same team, something which had never happened before in English football, father-in-law and son-in-law on the same Division One team. Certainly a rare occurrence indeed! Unfortunately the date of death for Charlie Pringle is not known.