Tommy Docherty, former Manchester United and Scotland manager, dies aged 92

The former Manchester United and Scotland manager Tommy Docherty has died at the age of 92 after a long illness, his family have announced.

Docherty, who was known as “the Doc”, spent nine years as a player with Preston after joining them from Celtic in 1949 and won 25 caps for Scotland. He went on to manage 12 clubs, including Chelsea, Aston Villa and Derby, and had a stint in charge of Scotland. But he was best known for his five-year spell at Old Trafford, overseeing an FA Cup final win over Bob Paisley’s Liverpool in 1977.

United said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Tommy Docherty, who led us to FA Cup victory in 1977 with a thrilling, attacking team in the best traditions of Manchester United. Everyone at the club sends sincere condolences to Tommy’s loved ones.”

Tommy Docherty at the centre of Manchester United’s celebrations after winning the 1977 FA Cup final 2-1 against Liverpool
Tommy Docherty at the centre of Manchester United’s celebrations after winning the 1977 FA Cup final 2-1 against Liverpool. Photograph: Allsport Msi/Allsport

Docherty died at home in the north-west on 31 December. A family spokesperson said in a statement: “Tommy passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at home. He was a much-loved husband, father and papa and will be terribly missed. We ask that our privacy be respected at this time. There will be no further comment.”

His time at Preston included an appearance in the 1954 FA Cup final and 22 of his 25 Scotland caps, playing twice in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland and being in the squad for the 1958 finals in Sweden.

In 1958 Docherty joined Arsenal, where he in effect ended his playing career. Although he made a few appearances for Chelsea after moving to Stamford Bridge in February 1961, the switch brought about his first step into coaching and management.

He was unable to prevent Chelsea from being relegated from the top flight at the end of the 1961-62 season but they bounced back at the first attempt. In 1964-65 they won the League Cup with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Leicester but lost the 1967 FA Cup final 2-1 to Tottenham.

The Glaswegian left to become manager of unfashionable Rotherham and memorably said: “I promised I would take Rotherham out of the Second Division – and I took them into the Third. The old chairman said: ‘Doc, you’re a man of your word!”’

He left Rotherham after a year and began racking up a dizzying number of clubs. He had spells at QPR, Aston Villa and Porto and a spell as assistant manager to Terry Neill at Hull before leaving in 1971 to become manager of Scotland, first on a temporary basis, then permanently.

Tommy Docherty in October 1971, during his spell at Scotland manager, with the goalkeepers Bobby Clarke and Bob Wilson.
Tommy Docherty in October 1971, during his spell at Scotland manager. He is with the goalkeepers Bobby Clarke and Bob Wilson (right). Photograph: PA

In December 1972, with Scotland having won their first two qualifiers for the 1974 World Cup, he quit to take over a struggling Manchester United side. “One of my biggest regrets was leaving the Scotland job when I did,” he later said, as his country made the finals for the first time since 1958, under Willie Ormond.

United were relegated to the Second Division in 1974 but stormed back the next season as champions. After surprisingly losing the 1976 FA Cup final 1-0 to Southampton, then of the Second Division, he led United to Wembley again the following year when they beat Liverpool, the favourites, 2-1.

However, celebrations did not last as he was almost immediately sacked for having an affair with the wife of the club physiotherapist, Laurie Brown. Docherty later married Mary Brown and they remained together until his death.

In September that year he returned to management at Derby, where he stayed until moving back to newly relegated QPR in May 1979. After one season, he was sacked, then reinstated after just nine days – and then sacked again a few months later.

Docherty then had spells at Sydney Olympic, Preston, South Melbourne and Sydney Olympic again, before in 1984 becoming manager of Wolves, who had just been relegated from the top flight. With the club in financial difficulties, they were relegated again in 1985 and Docherty’s Football League career came to an end. Altrincham, in the Conference, was his final managerial post before retirement at the end of the 1987-88 campaign.

Subsequently he worked as an after-dinner speaker and media pundit. Docherty was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in November 2013.


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more