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Tommy Docherty (1961-1967)


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Tommy Docherty (1961-1967)

Written by Bluebeard in August 2007

docherty61.jpgTommy Docherty was born in Glasgow on 24 August 1928. He was on Celtic’s books for just over a year before signing for Preston in 1949, where he went on to make over 300 appearances. In 1958 he moved to Arsenal, then came to Chelsea as player/coach in February 1961. A tough tackling and talented right-half, Docherty gained 25 Scottish caps as a player, and later went on to manage the national side.

Docherty was appointed as Chelsea caretaker manager after the departure of Ted Drake in September 1961, and was duly made permanent manager in January 1962. He inherited a poor team which included a lot of aging players, and they were still suffering the effects of losing Jimmy Greaves to Milan the previous summer. Docherty even made four appearances himself, but it didn’t make any impact.

The side struggled throughout the 61/62 season before eventually finishing bottom of Division One, conceding 94 goals in the process. Clearly, the defence was extremely shaky, so Docherty brought in young fullbacks Ken Shellito and Allan Harris to try and shore it up, but it was too little too late and Chelsea were relegated.

The following season saw Docherty draft in youngsters from the youth team as he cleared the ‘deadwood’. In came Bert Murray and Terry Venables, plus new signing Eddie McCreadie, bought from East Stirling for just £5,000, the first of a few real bargain buys. He blended these with more experienced players such as Frank Blunstone, John Mortimore and Frank Upton, and the combination worked a treat as Docherty brought in a revolutionary 4-3-3 system. Chelsea started the season extremely well, but after one of the worst winters on record during which clubs went five or six weeks without a game, they began to falter. With two games left, Chelsea went to high flying Sunderland and won 1-0 with a goal which famously went in off Tommy Harmer’s nuts, and three days later we were promoted in second place after beating Portsmouth 7-0 at the Bridge. The 62/63 season also saw teenager Ron Harris make his debut for the club, and to gain promotion at the first attempt with such a young side was a hell of an achievement.

Back in the top flight for the 63/64 season, Docherty bought Marvin Hinton from Charlton for just £35,000, to strengthen the defence. Chelsea continued playing Docherty’s pacy one-touch football, and surprised nearly everybody by finishing in 5th place in Division One. The 1964/65 season was a memorable one for Chelsea, for many reasons. The Doc changed the team strip to all blue, with a stripe and number on the shorts, and Dave Sexton was promoted from assistant to first team coach, a significant move. George Graham was bought for a bargain £5,950 from Aston Villa, and he played up front with Barry Bridges, with Bobby Tambling being moved to the left wing.

eddiemac.jpg It was a very balanced young side, playing with style and confidence. John Hollins became a regular, and Marvin Hinton took over at right-back when Ken Shellito suffered a career ending injury. Chelsea were in contention for the title throughout the season, won the League Cup in a two-legged final against Leicester, and reached the FA Cup semi-final where they lost 0-2 to Liverpool.

If Chelsea won their last two games, they still had a chance of winning the league, being just two points behind leaders Man Utd, but that was when it all went badly wrong. Docherty took the team to Blackpool a few days ahead of our game at Burnley, and imposed a 9pm curfew on the players. Several of the players broke the curfew, and after being grassed up by the hotel night porter, eight of them were sent home ahead of the game – Venables, Bridges, Graham, Hinton, Murray, McCreadie, Hollins & Fascione. Although one can applaud Docherty’s disciplinary measures, this was a bit over the top, as the incident was days before the game and wouldn’t have affected the players’ performance. Chelsea put out a very under-strength team and Burnley won 6-2, and although the ‘eight’ were reinstated for the match at Blackpool two days later, it made little difference and we lost 3-2.

There had been rumours of unrest in the dressing room for a while, mainly concerning Docherty & Venables. The Doc accused Venables of being disruptive in training, by questioning and openly criticising team tactics, and while acting as captain, actually changing team tactics once games started. The bad feeling between them continued for many years.

1965/66 saw Chelsea in Europe for only the second time, the first being a brief foray into the Fairs Cup years before, in 1958/59. The first round tie against AS Roma was memorable, mainly for the violence. In the first leg at the Bridge, Eddie McCreadie was kicked in the shins and half throttled by a Roma player – Eddie Mac responded by knocking him out with a perfect right hook, and was promptly sent off. Chelsea went on to win 4-1 with a Terry Venables hat-trick, and Docherty went on to have a public row with the Roma manager over the Italians tactics.

docherty.jpg The return game in Rome was a disgrace, with the Italians moving the match from their normal stadium to a smaller ground where the fans were right on top of the pitch. Chelsea officials and players were pelted with anything from rotten fruit to metal seats, lumps of concrete, and even a massive block of ice. In the second half, Johnny Boyle and Eddie McCreadie were both knocked unconscious by bottles, while John Hollins had a metal stanchion miss him by inches. Numerous Chelsea players were punched by their opponents, and the Italians tried to kick Chelsea off the pitch, but the Blues stood firm and held out for a 0-0 draw. The violence continued after the match, with the team coach being bombarded by missiles. Just out of interest, Roma’s keeper that night? Fabio Cudicini, father of Carlo!

65/66 also saw Docherty bring the young Peter Osgood in as striker (mostly at the expense of Barry Bridges). Strong in the air, two good feet, agile, very skilful and pacy, Ossie had it all, and he quickly made his mark, having made just one first team appearance the previous year. Also that season, Dave Sexton left to manage Orient, the new West Stand was opened; and Chelsea chose not to defend the League Cup, as they were in Europe.

The team did well in the league, and eventually finished fifth. And once again we reached the FA Cup semi-final, and once again we lost at Villa Park, this time to Sheffield Wednesday. It was after this game that Docherty appeared to lose patience with some players, and at the end of the season four key players were sold: - George Graham to Arsenal (in a cash plus player deal which brought Tommy Baldwin to the Bridge); Terry Venables to Tottenham, and Barry Bridges & Bert Murray going to Birmingham. Docherty showed true genius though, by replacing Venables with the brilliant young Charlie Cooke, signed from Dundee for £72,500 before the season ended. Alex Stepney was also brought in from Millwall, as Peter Bonetti had put in a transfer request and was expected to leave in the near future.

We went on to reach the semi-finals of the Fairs Cup, where we met Barcelona. After losing the first leg 2-0, we won the home leg by the same score with Charlie Cooke making his Chelsea debut. The tie was decided by a play-off in Barcelona, which we lost 5-0. 1966/67 proved to be a bit of a disappointment for a number of reasons. Chelsea started well, remaining unbeaten until October, and it’s probably no coincidence that our downturn in form came after we lost Peter Osgood for the rest of the season. In a League Cup match at Blackpool, Emlyn Hughes broke the young Ossie’s leg with a nasty challenge – and then went on to taunt the youngster as he was carried off on a stretcher. Hughes really was a piece of scum.

Docherty immediately went out and bought Tony Hateley from Villa as a replacement. Hateley was very strong in the air, but unfortunately every other part of his game was crap. He was to last less than a year at the Bridge, and many thought that was far too long. On the positive side, Peter Bonetti decided he wanted to stay at the Bridge after all, so Alex Stepney was sold to Manchester United. Also, Docherty signed a new five-year deal in December 1966.

Disappointingly, we finished the league in ninth place, though Docherty managed to guide the Blues to the FA Cup Final for only the second time in our history. After beating the Villa Park hoodoo by stuffing Leeds 1-0 (with the goal coming from, ironically, Tony Hateley), Chelsea were at last to appear at Wembley in the first ever all London final against Tottenham. However, Chelsea under-performed, and lost 2-1 in a drab match. Docherty rebelled against the Chelsea directors about the allocation of tickets for players, and player bonuses for the final, after it was discovered that the Tottenham players were getting far more tickets and bonuses than his own players. This row simmered on for a while, and although Docherty was in the right, it didn’t exactly endear him to the chairman & directors.

docandhill.jpg The beginning of the end came when Chelsea embarked on an end of season tour, with a major row blowing up after a game in Bermuda. The details were never really clear, but it would appear that Docherty threatened to cancel the tour after Tony Hateley and another Chelsea player were sent off (Barry Lloyd or Peter Houseman, apparently). The Doc was also less than impressed with the faulty floodlights, which kept failing every few minutes. One report claimed that after the game, Docherty and the referee exchanged racial abuse, though the Doc’s version was that he’d merely told the referee to “f*ck off”. Whatever the truth of the matter, the FA became involved, and on 13 October 1967 (five months later!) they totally over-reacted and suspended Docherty for 28 days – he wasn’t to be allowed to coach or manage the team, use his own office, or even attend a game! Tommy Docherty resigned the same day, but his decision was more to do with his relationship with Chelsea chairman Charles Pratt than the suspension.

Chelsea had started the 67/68 season horribly, losing 5-1 at Newcastle, 6-2 at home to Southampton (which I had the dubious honour of attending – only my second ever game, too!), and 3-0 at Forest, so it probably made his decision easier. The day after Docherty left, Chelsea lost 7-0 at Leeds, with Ron Suart in temporary charge. Sadly, The Doc’s reign was finally over. Docherty was an excellent manager and motivator, and had a knack of spotting talented young players. He had a wicked sense of humour, once giving Marvin Hinton a lovebite on the neck and telling him to go home and tell his wife that his manager had done it and see if she believed him! He was a big personality, and never shied away from speaking his mind - consequently, controversy seemed to follow him around.

Docherty was once charged with making ungentlemanly remarks about a referee at a youth match (he called the ref “a bloody disgrace”), was fined £100, and said it was worth every penny. He never got on with chairman Charles Pratt, and was once quoted as saying that the chairman was very aptly named.

Attendances increased by 30% over the course of Docherty’s reign, probably because of the stylish attacking play that he brought to Chelsea. He broke Chelsea’s transfer record three times, with the signings of Graham Moore for £35,000 in December 1961, Derek Kevan for £50,000 in March 1963, and Tony Hateley for £100,000 in October 1966. Of those, only Moore could be regarded as a decent signing, but Docherty did far better with signing lesser known players like Eddie McCreadie, Marvin Hinton, Joe McCalliog, Joe Kirkup, George Graham, Charlie Cooke, Alex Stepney and Tommy Baldwin. He also introduced a number of players from the youth and reserve teams, such as Ron Harris, Johnny Boyle, Peter Osgood, Johnny Hollins, Joe Fascione, Peter Houseman, and many more.

A month after leaving Chelsea, Tommy Docherty became manager of Rotherham United, and went on to have quite a varied managerial career, taking charge at QPR, Aston Villa, Porto, Hull City (assistant manager), Scotland, Manchester United, Derby County, QPR (again), Preston, Sydney Olympic, South Melbourne, Sydney Olympic (again), Wolves, and finally, Altrincham.

Managerial Record

Highest League Position 3rd (Div 1) 1964/55

Trophies - League Cup 1964/55

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