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Thomas Henderson "Tommy" Docherty (born 24 April 1928), commonly known as "The Doc", is a Scottish former football player and manager. Docherty played for several clubs, most notably Preston North End, and represented Scotland 25 times between 1951 and 1959. He then managed a total of 13 clubs between 1961 and 1988, as well as managing the Scottish national team. Docherty was manager of Manchester United between 1972 and 1977, during which time United were relegated to the Second Division but were promoted at the first attempt.
|Full name||Thomas Henderson Docherty|
|Date of birth||24 April 1928|
|Place of birth||Glasgow, Scotland|
|Playing position||Right half|
|1949–1958||Preston North End||324||(5)|
|1968||Queens Park Rangers|
|1979–1980||Queens Park Rangers|
|1981||Preston North End|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Born in Gorbals, Glasgow, Docherty began his playing career when he joined junior football club Shettleston. 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 Celtic in 1947. He would later say that Jimmy Hogan, the club's coach, was his greatest influence. However, Docherty found first team places hard to come by at Celtic.
In November 1949, after spending just over two years with Celtic, he joined Preston North End. With the Lilywhites he enjoyed the most successful period of his playing career as he won the 1951 Second Division title and got to the 1954 FA Cup Final. Altogether Docherty made close to 300 appearances for the club.
He left Deepdale in August of that year to join Arsenal for £85,000. With the Gunners he made a sum of 83 appearances scoring once. He then went to play for Chelsea where he brought an end to his playing days in 1962.
In February 1961, he was 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.
Docherty's skill was his ability to spot talented players and to act as a motivator. During his first year in charge he sold 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. He also changed the club's home colours, switching from white shorts to blue shorts, the combination which remains to this day. The team, nicknamed "Docherty's Diamonds", achieved promotion back to Division One at the first attempt and finished fifth the following year. In 1964–65, Chelsea 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.
He sent 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 the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-finals a year later, before reaching the FA Cup Final in 1967, though they lost to Tottenham Hotspur. He resigned in October 1967. The core of the team Docherty had put together, including the likes of Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke, Ron Harris, Bonetti and John Hollins, went on to win the FA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup under his successor, Dave Sexton. Sexton succeeded Docherty as manager of Manchester United a decade later.
The month following his departure from Chelsea, Docherty became manager of Rotherham United. He left Rotherham after a year and was appointed manager at Queens Park Rangers, only to leave 29 days later. He then became Doug Ellis' first manager at Aston Villa in December 1968, for 13 months. On 19 January 1970, with Aston Villa bottom of the Second Division, Docherty was sacked.
From there he went to FC Porto, where he stayed for 16 months before resigning in May 1971, having failed to usurp Benfica and Sporting. On 2 July 1971, he was appointed by Hull City as assistant manager to Terry Neill, but on 12 September he left to become the caretaker manager of Scotland, with the position becoming permanent in November 1971.
In December 1972, when Frank O'Farrell was sacked as manager of Manchester United, Docherty was poached by Manchester United and quit his job with Scotland to become manager. His first game in charge was against Leeds United at Old Trafford. The game finished 1–1 with Ted MacDougall scoring one of his few goals for United. His reputation immediately endeared him to the Stretford Enders and although United were in serious trouble when he took them over, because of an aging squad, he managed to keep them in the First Division in 1972–73. However, the 1973–74 season saw United continue to struggle and they were eventually relegated to the Second Division.
In the following season, United returned to the top flight as Second Division champions. In 1975–76 they finished in third place in the First Division and also reached the 1976 FA Cup Final. United surprisingly lost 1–0 to Southampton, who were then in the Second Division. Docherty led United to the FA Cup final again in 1977, this time as underdogs against Liverpool. United won 2–1, denying Liverpool the second trophy of a possible treble of League, FA Cup and European Cup.
Shortly afterwards, news that Docherty was having an extramarital affair with the wife of a United physiotherapist, Laurie Brown, became public. He was sacked in a blaze of publicity in July 1977. Docherty was replaced at Old Trafford by the same man who had replaced him at Chelsea, Dave Sexton. The affair also resulted in the end of his marriage to Agnes, who had been his wife since December 1949. She has since died. Tommy later married Mary Brown and they are still together after more than 30 years. Docherty has gone on to have a frosty relationship with the club ever since.
Docherty became manager at Derby County in September 1977, where he stayed for two seasons before resigning in May 1979. His next appointment was at Queens Park Rangers in May 1979. On taking over at Loftus Road, Rangers had been relegated to the Second Division (three years after almost winning the league title) and Docherty had to lift the team spirits to start the new season. New players such as Clive Allen, Tony Currie and Paul Goddard were brought in. Despite this, Docherty had a quick fallout with Queens Park Rangers's star player, Stan Bowles. Docherty made Bowles train with the reserves for several months, before selling him on to Nottingham Forest in December 1979. Although money was spent, Queens Park Rangers finished the season four points short of promotion to the First Division. In May 1980, Docherty was surprisingly sacked by chairman, Jim Gregory, then reinstated after just nine days away. In October 1980, Docherty was sacked for the second time in five months.
This was followed by a short spell in Australia coaching Sydney Olympic in 1981. He returned to England in July that year to manage Preston North End, where he had spent nine years as a player. He left after a few months, returning to Australia to manage South Melbourne until the following year. He also managed Sydney Olympic again in 1983.
Docherty 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. Their dismal 1984–85 season had included a 21-match winless run in the league. Docherty took up his final managerial position at Altrincham on 28 September 1987. He finally retired from management at the end of the 1987–88 season.
- Preston North End
- Manchester United
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