The Wandering Doc
This Man Boasted he had More Clubs than Jack Nicklaus


by Richard D J J Bowdery

During the last six weeks nine League managers have been sacked across all divisions.

In the same period 45 years ago one football manager had three managerial jobs, two of which he left on his own terms and the third he started this week in 1968. His name: Tommy Docherty.

Tommy is seen here preparing to fly out to Lisbon for Eusebio’s testimonial match with George Best.

He was managing Rotherham United when the opportunity to take the helm at Queens Park Rangers came up. He was there less than a month before Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis poached him, on the 18 December.

But this story does have a sting in the tail for Docherty. On the 19 January 1970, just 13 months after taking charge, he too was sacked. Perhaps the grass wasn’t so greener back then.

Of course one sacking, in 1977, caused a blaze of publicity both within and outside the world of football and it owed more to his performance off the pitch than his team’s performance on it.

Docherty was manager at Manchester United at the time and playing away didn’t only apply to the club.

In the summer of that year news of his affair with the wife of United’s club physiotherapist, Laurie Brown, became public and in July he was dismissed from his post.

Controversy seemed to follow Tommy Docherty around. During his time as manager at Derby County he became embroiled in a bitter Court case when he sued the ex-Manchester United captain Willie Morgan and Granada television for libel.

The case was eventually dropped and the end of the Court case coincided with the end of Docherty’s managerial career with Derby.

United won the Cup with ‘The Doc’ at the helm

But if his off-field antics made the front pages for all the wrong reasons his on field successes received glowing coverage on the back pages.

As Chelsea manager he gained promotion to Division One in 1963 and won the League Cup in 1965. With Manchester United he won the Second Division championship in 1975 and the FA Cup in 1977. The only blots being losing two FA Cup finals: in 1967 against Tottenham Hotspur, and in 1976 against Southampton.

On his appointment as Altrincham manager in September 1987, he stated that they were the ‘Manchester United of non-league football’.

For the record the Doc’s wandering took in the following clubs:

·        Chelsea: 1961–67

·        Rotherham: 1967–68

·        Queen’s Park Rangers: 1968

·        Aston Villa: 1968–70

·        Porto: 1970–71

·        Manchester United: 1972–77

·        Derby:  1977–79

·        Queen’s Park Rangers: 1979–80

·        Sydney Olympic (Australia): 1981

·        Preston North End: 1981

·        South Melbourne (Australia): 1982–83

·        Wolverhampton Wanderers: 1984–85

·       Altrincham: 1987–88

He also had a stint as manager of the Scottish national side between 1971 and 72.

Docherty brought the curtain down on his managerial career while at Altrincham at the end of 87/88 season. He became a media pundit and after-dinner speaker.

With the frequency of sackings in today’s professional game how long will it be before we have a 21st century contender for the wandering Doc..?

Tommy in his Chelsea days.


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