Tommy Docherty; Arsenal player, jobbing manager

Thomas Henderson  Docherty was born 24 April 1928 in the Gorbals district of Glasgow.  He started playing with junior (ie non-league) club Shettleston.

In 1946 he was called up for National Service, joined the Highland Light Infantry and played for the Army.  After his National Service he joined Celtic, and two years later joined second division Preston.  He gained promotion with them in 1951 and they were runners up to Arsenal on goal average in 1953.   He also played for them in the Cup Final for them in 1954.

In 1958 he left to play for Arsenal, the transfer costing £28,000, playing 83 times for the club at number 4, 5 and 6.  His first game was 26 August 1958 in a 3-0 win over Burnley in which he scored.  He played 38 games that season but that was his only goal.

The following season he only managed 24 games and 21 in 1960/1.  His final game was a 3-3 draw on 4 February  1961 away to Newcastle.

During this time at Arsenal he gained the last three of his 25 caps for Scotland.

Years Team Games Goals
1947–1949 Celtic 9 3
1949–1958 Preston North End 323 5
1958–1961 Arsenal 83 1
1961–1962 Chelsea 4 0
1965 Sydney Prague (player/manager) 1 0

His next move was as player coach for Chelsea later in February 1961, and at the start of the 1961/2 season he became manager taking over from another former Arsenal man, Ted Drake.   Later in his career he was a roving manager, working for Rotherham, QPR, Aston Villa, Porto, Scotland, Manchester United, Derby, Preston and Wolverhampton.

Docherty had obviously picked up on some of the Chapman legends while at Highbury as he changed Chelsea’s home colours from white shorts to blue.

Docherty as a manager had the reputation of being a disciplinarian and sometimes his managerial periods were short – 29 days with Queens Park Rangers for example, and he was not always successful – particularly at Villa where he lasted for 13 months.

At Hull City he lasted two and a half months jumping ship to be manager of Scotland.  He was poached from that job to be Manchester United’s manager and in 1973/4 he endeared himself to all Arsenal fans by relegating Manchester United, although he brought them back up the next season.

But he always made the headlines as when he was manager of Man U and had an affair with the wife of Man U physiotherapist, Laurie Brown.  He was sacked in July 1977 and his wife left him.

This was followed by a short spell in Australia coaching Sydney Olympic in 1981.

During his period as manager of Wolverhampton he set up three relegations in a row, including 21-matches without a win. He did one season in non-league football and now works with the media and as an after dinner speaker.


The books…

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