Daniel Devine: played in our first league game, but then lost to history

By Tony Attwood

Poor Daniel Devine.  Played in our very first match in the league, and thus worthy a place in history, but then only managed one more league game and one cup game (the Ashford United game we won 12-0 where we had a mix of reserves and first teamers) before seeming to vanish into the thinnest of air.

I’ve even tried looking at his relatives (we have had three players with this surname, the other two being Archie – just before the first world war, and John – in the 70s and 80s).   Is there any relationship?  I can’t find it, but then I can’t really find anything much about Daniel.

Daniel Devine was a right half (number 4), born in Dumbarton in 1870, and playing for Dumbarton and Renton, before Woolwich Arsenal in 1893 and finally Partick Thistle.  We can guess that like so many other men he travelled south to find work in the munitions works, and then pitched his luck with the club.

But there’s a snag with the list of clubs, because there is not trace of Devine there either.  Dumbarton FC’s own web site has a history section but its early years bit is blank, and the unofficial sites don’t cover the early days in any depth.  Renton FC (now defunct) was a famous and successful team in Scotland in the early years, but there is no index of players that I know, and the current Renton club is not directly related to the original club.

Renton is in Dumbartonshire and like Dumbarton was formed in 1872 and were a first division team when Devine would have been there.

As for Partick Thistle, there are two sites (Wiki’s Partick T. site and Partick Thistle the Early Years both of which have a player called “Devine” with the club in the right sort of era, but neither called Daniel.  If he was there as Dean Hayes suggests in “Arsenal, the Football Facts”, he simply had a registration and never got a game.

He would have been 23 when he did his three games with Arsenal, and the best guess we can make based on this tiny amount of material is that he was a worker in the factories who got footballing employment as and when he could, but when nothing happened for him at Woolwich Arsenal, he returned to his homeland, signed on with Partick, but never made it, and moved into other employment.

And that’s where we have to leave him – unless you have further thoughts.

(And can I add how very much I appreciate the corrections and updates that come in.  I think between us we are putting together some info on the early Arsenal that has not been sorted out before).

5 Replies to “Daniel Devine: played in our first league game, but then lost to history”

  1. It’s almost as if he was a present-day man who, knowing he would have had no chance to get into today’s Arsenal — although Almunia, Diaby and Rosicky were hardly an improvement today! — got into a time machine and said, “I’ll make The Arsenal one way, and one day, or another!” Then played, and got found out (football-wise, not technology-wise), and had to sod off back to the 21st Century.

  2. I’ve not been able to dig out any more information on Daniel Devine. However, I am enjoying delving into the early years of the club. It’s amazing how different the lives are of the players then and now. In the 1890s it wasn’t even considered a job as most players had a trade and playing football tended to either be just another job or a temporary diversion away from their trade. Even on the 1901 census it was unsual to see the profession “footballer”.

    Can’t wait for David Howat!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *