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Thomas Henderson "Tommy" Docherty (born 24 April 1928 in Gorbalsmarker, Glasgowmarker), commonly known as "The Doc", is a Scottishmarker former football and football manager.

Playing career

Docherty's football career began when he joined non-League Shettleston Juniors. The turning point in his playing career came in 1946 when he was called up for National Service in the Highland Light Infantry.

While completing his National Service, Docherty represented the British Army at football. On demobilisation, Docherty was offered a contract with his beloved Celtic in 1947.

However, the young Docherty found first team places hard to come by at Celtic and, in November 1949, after spending just over two years with the club he'd supported as a boy, he joined Preston North End. It was at Preston where he enjoyed the most successful period of his playing career, making over 300 League appearances, and appearing in an FA Cup Final in 1954. At Preston he received the first of his 25 full Scotland international caps.

After defying Preston and travelling to the World Cup finals with Scotland, in Sweden in 1958, he left Deepdale that year to join Arsenal. It was at Arsenal where Docherty would make his last regular appearances as a professional footballer, although he subsequently played a few games for Chelsea, retiring in 1962.

Managerial career

In February 1961 his dream of becoming a football coach materialised, being offered the post of player-coach of Chelsea. Less than twelve months later, upon Ted Drake's departure and with the club facing relegation from the top flight, Docherty took over as manager. However, he was unable to keep the club in the First Division and the team was relegated at the end of the 1961-62 season.

Never a great tactician, Docherty's skill was his ability to spot talented players and to act as a motivator. During his first year in charge he replaced many of the club's older players and put together an exciting team of youngsters such as Terry Venables, Bobby Tambling, Peter Bonetti and Barry Bridges. The team, nicknamed "Docherty's Diamonds", achieved promotion back to Division One at the first attempt and finished 5th the following year. In 1964-65, Chelsea were on course for a treble of League, FA Cup and League Cup. They won the League Cup in April with an aggregate win over Leicester City, but were beaten 2-0 by eventual winner Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.

By this stage, Docherty's relationship with some of his players, especially his captain Venables, was deteriorating. This culminated in him sending home eight players for breaking a curfew before a crucial match at Burnley with the team two points behind League leaders Manchester United. The team that remained lost the match, which all but ended their title chances. He led Chelsea to the FA and Fairs Cup semi-finals a year later, before reaching the FA Cup Final in 1967 only to end up on the losing side for the second time in his career. In October of the 1967-68 season he resigned. The core of the team Docherty had put together, including the likes of Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke, Ron Harris, Bonetti and John Hollins, would go on to win the FA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup under his successor, Dave Sexton. Ironically, Sexton would succeed Docherty as manager of Manchester United a decade later.

The month following his departure from Chelsea, Docherty became manager of Rotherham United. He left the club the following year and was appointed manager at Queens Park Rangers, only to leave 29 days later. He then had the dubious distinction of becoming Doug Ellis' first manager at Aston Villa in December 1968, a role in which he survived 13 months.

On 19 January 1970, with Aston Villa bottom of the Second Division, Docherty was sacked. From there he went to FC Porto but lasted just 4 months. On 2 July 1971, Docherty was appointed by Hull City as assistant manager to Terry Neill, but on September 12 he was appointed as caretaker manager of Scotland, with the position becoming permanent in November.

In December 1972, when Frank O'Farrell was sacked as manager of Manchester United, the temptation of managing one of the world's biggest football clubs was too much to resist: Docherty was poached by Manchester United and quit his job with Scotland, to take up the role of manager. The arrival of the flamboyant Docherty brought with it a security and confidence that suggested the exciting trophy-winning sides would return. To say the Doc was controversial would be an understatement. His reputation immediately endeared him to the Stretford Enders and although United were in serious trouble when he took them over because of an ageing squad, he managed to keep them in the First Division in 1972-73. However, the 1973-74 season saw United continue to struggle, and their relegation was confirmed in the penultimate game of the season when they lost 1-0 at home to local rivals Manchester City with the goal coming from legendary former United striker Denis Law, who had left Old Traffordmarker when given a free transfer by Docherty a year earlier.

In the following season United bounced back up as champions, and in 1975-76 they finished in third place in the First Division, also reaching the FA Cup final which surprisingly lost to Lawrie McMenemy's Southampton. Docherty led them to the final again a year later, in 1976-77, this time as 'underdogs' to a Liverpool team seeking the second trophy of what would have been a (then) unique Treble of League, FA Cup and European Cup. United won 2-1, denying Liverpool the honour that Manchester United would itself earn in 1999.

Shortly afterwards news that Docherty was having an extramarital affair with the wife of a United physiotherapist Laurie Brown had become public. He was sacked in a blaze of publicity in July 1977. Ironically, Docherty was replaced at Old Trafford by the same man who had replaced him at Chelsea, Dave Sexton. Despite the manner of his exit, Docherty is still fondly remembered by the United faithful for his role in regenerating the club after the decay it fell into in the wake of legendary manager Matt Busby's retirement, and often thought of as the club's best manager between the reigns of Busby and Alex Ferguson.

It was not long before Docherty was back in work, taking the manager's job at Derby County in September 1977, where he stayed for two seasons before resigning in April 1979. His time at Derby was marred by controversy off the pitch. On taking over Docherty became embroiled in a bitter court case, suing the ex-Manchester United captain Willie Morgan and Granadamarker television for libel. The case was eventually dropped with Docherty admitting he had lied in court. The end of the court case coincided with the end of Docherty's managerial career with Derby.

His next appointment was at Queens Park Rangers in May 1979. He was sacked almost immediately, then bizarrely reinstated after just nine days away. On taking over at Loftus Roadmarker, Rangers had been relegated to the Second Division (a mere three years after almost winning the league title) and Docherty had to lift the team spirits to start the new season. His reputation kept a lot of big names with the club and new players such as Clive Allen, Tony Currie and Paul Goddard were brought in. Although money was spent, QPR finished the season four points short of promotion to the First Division. In October 1980, he was sacked. He later claimed "I sacked Queens Park Rangers once and they later sacked me twice".

After a short spell in Australia coaching Sydney Olympic in 1981, his career came full circle and he returned to England in July that year to manage Preston North End, where he had spent nine successful years as a player. However, he was unable to make his mark and he left after a few months, returning to Australia to manage South Melbourne Hellas until the following year. He also managed Sydney Olympic again in 1983, but returned to England once more with Wolverhampton Wanderers just after their relegation from the First Division in 1984. However, he was sacked within a year as Wolves headed for a second successive relegation, eventually going on to suffer three relegations in a row.

Docherty took up his final managerial position at Altrincham on 28 September 1987, declaring that the GM Vauxhall Conference side were the "Manchester United of non-league football". However this appointment lasted less than one year and he finally retired from management at the end of the 1987-88 season.

As a manager Tommy Docherty was nothing if not controversial. Possessed of a dry humour and the gifts of a good storyteller he has earned a living for the past 20 years as a media pundit and after-dinner speaker.


All-Time Club Performance
Club Season Domestic League FA Cup Other Cups Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Celtic 1948-49 9 3 - - 21 01 11 3
Total 9 3 0 0 2 0 11 3
Preston North End 1949-50 15 0 1 0 0 0 16 0
1950-51 42 0 2 0 0 0 44 0
1951-52 42 0 1 0 0 0 43 0
1952-53 41 0 3 0 0 0 44 0
1953-54 26 0 8 0 0 0 34 0
1954-55 39 3 3 0 0 0 42 3
1955-56 41 1 1 0 0 0 42 1
1956-57 37 0 6 0 0 0 43 0
1957-58 40 1 1 0 0 0 41 1
Total 323 5 26 0 0 0 349 5
Arsenal 1958-59 38 1 4 0 0 0 42 1
1959-60 24 0 3 0 0 0 27 0
1960-61 21 0 0 0 0 0 21 0
Total 83 1 7 0 0 0 90 1
Chelsea 1961-62 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Total 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Career Totals 419 9 33 0 2 0 454 9
  • 1Glasgow Charity Cup


As a player


Preston North End

As a manager


Manchester United

South Melbourne
  • Victorian Ampol Night Soccer Cup (1): 1982

Managerial stats

Team Nat From To Record
G W L D Win %
Chelsea October 1962 October 1967 247 121 73 53 49.0
Rotherham United November 1967 November 1968 47 14 17 16 29.8
Queens Park Rangers 1 November 1968 30 November 1968 4 1 3 0 25.0
Aston Villa December 1968 January 1970 46 13 17 16 28.3
F.C. Porto 1970 1971
Scotland September 1971 November 1971
Scotland November 1971 December 1972
Manchester United December 1972 July 1977 215 99 62 54 46.0
Derby County September 1977 May 1979 78 24 33 21 30.8
Queens Park Rangers May 1979 October 1980 51 20 15 16 39.2
Sydney Olympic 1981 1981
Preston North End June 1981 December 1981 17 3 8 6 17.6
South Melbourne FC 1982 1983
Sydney Olympic 1983 1983
Wolverhampton Wanderers June 1984 July 1985 48 9 27 12 18.8
Altrincham 1987 1988


  1. Wolves Fan Site

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