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Tommy Docherty Interview


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14 Feb 2015

The Weekend Interview part one: Tommy Docherty,

Found this interview with The Doc from a few years back on the official site and thought it was worth posting.

Fifty years on from our first success in the Football League Cup, and ahead of our final with Tottenham in the same competition in two weeks’ time, the official Chelsea website caught up with Tommy Docherty, the man who steered us to our first major domestic knockout trophy in 1965.

In the first part of our Weekend Interview with the Doc, he recalls that cup run and what it meant for him and his ‘Diamonds’ to lift – or should that be receive – silverware for the first time…

‘I was trying to build the team for the future. They matured much better than I anticipated.’

The great Chelsea teams of the Sixties and early Seventies evoke plenty of special memories; none burn brighter than our replayed FA Cup final against Leeds United in 1970 when we lifted that most famous of trophies for the very first time.

Our maiden European success the following season - Real Madrid beaten, also after a replay, in the Cup Winners’ Cup final – elevated the club firmly onto the continental stage. London’s most fashionable club could claim a place on the same footballing pedestal as Europe’s elite.

Less acclaim is attached to the third trophy we won during that period, and understandably so. The Football League Cup was still in its infancy when we beat Leicester City over two legs in 1965. Created five years earlier to increase gate revenues and maximise floodlight usage during free midweeks in winter, the tournament had yet to capture the public’s imagination. Few clubs were enthused by it, either, particularly those competing for the league and the FA Cup, as we were by 1965.


We might not have been the best team in the competition but we were the fittest.


However, for Tommy Docherty, team manager since 1962, the tournament represented an excellent opportunity to continue blooding youngsters.

‘I’ve always been a great believer that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,’ emphasises Docherty, who during his five-and-a-half years as manager brought some of the greatest players in our history – the likes of Ron Harris, John Hollins and Peter Osgood - into the first team.

‘People said to me he’s a good player but he’s got no experience. You can’t just say to a player here’s five years’ experience, though.

‘He’s got to go and play good and bad, have setbacks and so on. When I took over at Stamford Bridge they had won the Youth Cup a couple of times so there was a great bunch of young players there under the stewardship of Dickie Foss [former youth team manager].

‘We had a wealth of talent, and I thought what they are playing in the youth team for? They’re too good for the youth team. So I started bringing them into the first team.’


Dennis Brown, Joe Fascione, Jim McCalliog, Johnny Boyle and, most significantly, Osgood, all made their Chelsea debut in that successful League Cup run. Eighteen-year-old Boyle scored the winning goal in a 3-2 semi-final first leg win at Villa Park.

A 1-1 draw in the second leg back at the Bridge (goalscorer George Graham is pictured above challenging Villa keeper Colin Withers) secured our place in the final against holders Leicester, but it was Third Division Workington Town that came closest to knocking us out en route to that showdown with the Foxes.  

‘I remember it well,’ laughs Docherty. ‘It was the luckiest night we had in the whole tournament. I had never even heard of them. I thought it was a rugby stronghold but we drew them in the quarters.

‘They gave us a right hammering up there and we were lucky to get out with a 2-2 draw. In the replay at Stamford Bridge I brought Osgood into the side, he scored twice and the rest is history.’

That was Osgood’s only appearance that season but by the end of the next, he was first-choice number nine. His contributions to our victorious finals of 1970 and 1971, in Manchester and Athens, will never be forgotten.


Eddie McCreadie, a half-back brought in from East Stirling for a minimal fee by Docherty in 1962, provided some of his own cup final inspiration against Leicester. In the first leg at Stamford Bridge, defender Allan Young’s first appearance for three years ended after only 15 minutes. Stretchered off with a ligament injury, the Blues were forced to play the remainder of the game with 10 men - this being the last season before substitutions were permitted. 

Goals from Bobby Tambling  and Terry Venables had both been cancelled out, so it was left to McCreadie to steal the show, running from inside his own half before coolly finding the corner past Gordon Banks.

‘I said he should be back defending, but he just ignored me completely!’ recalls Docherty.

Chelsea therefore headed to the East Midlands 3-2 up. A professional performance in the second leg at Filbert Street secured the goalless draw we needed to lift the cup. It was our first such result for 18 months. Docherty, whose teams were renowned for their speed, creativity and attacking bombast, had showed his pragmatic side.

‘We might not have been the best team in the competition but we were the fittest. That had a big say in the final outcome.  

‘They were just a crowd of kids and what they wanted more than anything was success for Chelsea Football Club.

‘There were no post-match presentations or celebrations,’ Docherty continues. ‘I don’t know if it was because it was a two-legged thing. It wasn’t quite the same as a showpiece one-off final.

‘After the final whistle went, we were in the dressing room changing, getting ready to go back to London, and who comes barging through the door? John Battersby, the club secretary. He had a pile of trophies, little miniature cups. He said: “there’s one for you and there’s one for me” and he left the rest of them for all the players to fight over in the middle of the table.

‘We were delighted because it was our first trophy. We were over the moon with the outcome. It was a great start for me as manager and it was my first trophy. I’ve still got it at home. They were marvellous days.’


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15 Feb 2015

The Weekend Interview part two: Tommy Docherty

Ahead of our upcoming final in the same competition against Tottenham, the Doc recalls our rivalry with Spurs when he was in charge, the details around his appointment as team manager and our first serious tilt at European football…

Our 1965 League Cup triumph secured the club the second trophy in its history. Ten years earlier, we won the First Division title, led by Ted Drake off the pitch and Roy Bentley on it.

In September 1961, first team coach Tommy Docherty, a combative Scottish midfielder until the previous season, was asked to succeed Drake, who was only four years into a 10-year contract — the longest ever handed to a manager at the time — but the Board felt he fell short in converting brilliant juniors into winning pros. That responsibility now fell to someone who had only just hung up his boots having represented Celtic, Preston North End, Arsenal and, briefly, Chelsea.

‘When I was transferred from Arsenal to Chelsea I was transferred as player-coach,’ recalls Docherty. ‘I think I played about four games for Chelsea and I quickly realised that was it, my time was up. It’s no surprise people don’t know much about my playing career at Chelsea!

‘When I was appointed I remember Ted Drake saying to me: “I didn’t want you as coach, I wanted [Ajax manager] Vic Buckingham.”

‘But [Chelsea chairman] Mr Mears said no. He spoke to Ron Greenwood, who was West Ham boss, about me and Ron said I was the right man for Chelsea. Ted Drake left quite shortly after that.

After the first board meeting in which I was appointed manager-coach, I was in charge of everything regarding the playing side of the club, not the financial side.

‘Mr Mears was a marvellous chairman. He didn’t only look after me; he looked after the players too. If I wanted anything I would go to him and he would handle it. He said to me: “I know nothing about football and the other four on the board know a damn sight less than me.” I knew I had a great chance.’

After three months working with the team as chief coach, Docherty became the sixth full-time manager in our history in January 1962

‘I got a rise in my salary which was very nice!’ he laughs.

In his maiden full season as team manager, Chelsea were promoted from the Second Division on goal average. Docherty guided the team to an impressive fifth-place finish in our first season back in the top tier of English football, with the football played by his scintillating young side some of the very best in the country. 

Then came that memorable 1964/65 campaign, when FA Cup semi-final heartbreak and a title tilt that faltered at the last sandwiched our League Cup success.

Winning that tournament guaranteed us a spot in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup for the following campaign. To concentrate on that, we chose not to defend the League Cup.

‘European football is what we were aiming for at that time,’ Docherty says. ‘We gave it a right go that year. We beat Roma, AC Milan, and 1860 Munich. Barcelona needed a replay to finally beat us in the semi-finals.

‘We were an up-and-coming young side and watching them against European opposition was like a breath of fresh air. We were a side that was buzzing. It felt it was the right place at the right time.

‘As soon as the referee blew the whistle we were at the opposition’s throats right away. We always played with two wingers which was fantastic. To be playing big European games so early in my managerial career, and so early in the careers of people like Harris, Hollins, and Osgood, was fantastic.’

Docherty succeeded in allying that exciting European venture with a second fifth-place finish in three years, and another run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. 

We went one better in 1967, ensuring the Scot would be the first man to lead out a Chelsea team in a major Wembley cup final (pictured above). Docherty still expresses disappointment at our 2-1 defeat that day, but talk of the game only serves to reinforce his love for the club where he made his managerial name. There’s no doubt who he’ll be supporting when we take to the field for this year’s League Cup final two weeks today.

‘It was a great rivalry between Chelsea and Tottenham. I probably didn’t feel it quite as much as some of the players, especially the London-based lads, but when I was manager of Chelsea and we played Tottenham or Arsenal I wanted to destroy them. I still do!

‘Chelsea is my club. I won’t have a bad word said against them. I love the Bridge. I go five or six times a year and they’re brilliant to me. One of the greatest honours I ever had was to be manager of Chelsea Football Club.’











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On 24/04/2020 at 02:23, erskblue said:

Portrait of Chelsea Manager Tommy Docherty. \ Mandatory Credit ...

Happy Birthday to our former manager, Tommy Docherty , who is 92 years old today.:biggrin:

Bloody hell. 92. I remember the day he walked into Old Trafford in December 1972. We were crap and we had Leeds at home. The Doc lifted the place so much the roof nearly came off. MacDougall opened the scoring for us, a young lad ran on the pitch and tackled Lorimer, and Clarke scored for them with a minute or so to go. He had a great rapport with the fans and no matter what the score was. Doc was always geeing us up.

I remember his time at Chelsea somewhat. Chelsea were always a good, attacking side in those days; a bit flash but with a lot of good players. I remember the 1967 semi-final with Leeds when Tony Hateley scored the winner and not long after was transferred to Liverpool. They don't make them like The Doc any more.

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On 28/11/2019 at 07:49, erskblue said:

Remember my old man (never, ever, a Man Utd fan in his life) being happy when Man Utd beat Liverpool in FA Cup Final of 1977.

Why? Simply because he still rated 'The Doc' and my old man always spoke very highly of his time with us in the 1960s.

Snap, my old man exactly the same, remember the 77 cup final and him wanting Utd to win, as The Doc was their manager, also he couldn't stand Liverpool.

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I'm too young to remember the Doc(as CFC manager)  but i wanted United to win the 77 cup as they had a really young exciting team that played some great football ,that and oh yeah i also can't  stand Liver*ool as well

I've done 60 plus away grounds with CFC and my first trip to Old Trafford was a mid week game ,the 2-1 (Dixon scored both goals game ) and Old Trafford was one of the few grounds where seeing it for the first time and knowing the history i actually thought " yeah huge club " ,"great stadium" "massive support" 

The San Siro had the exact same feeling "oh Dennis Wise"  but yeah those two grounds took my breath away  

Edited by F1905
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