First posted on Facebook, April, 25th, 2016
Tommy will reach the grand old age of 88 today. Although, most of us will think of Tommy and his days in charge of the Scotland team in the early 70’s, he played for the team 25 times from 1951-’59, travelling to two World Cups in that period.
Tommy was first capped as a Preston North End player in November, 1951 making his debut against Wales at Hampden. Tommy was what we would think of nowadays as a holding midfielder, making the tackles and threading passes forward at this time. Scotland lined up with one or two legends beside Tommy such as Jimmy Cowan of Morton in goals, George Young, Willie Woodburn, Willie Waddell all of Rangers, Lawrie Reilly of Hibs as well as the two Billy’s of the time; Steel of Dundee and Liddell of Liverpool. With all that talent on display Scotland still managed to lose one nil.
Tommy would have to wait 18 months before he got his chance again playing against England at Wembley in April ’53. Scotland drew 2-2 with Lawrie Reilly scoring one of the goals in the 89th minute. A friendly loss at Hampden to Sweden in May that year followed and then a year later two pre-World Cup friendly appearances in May 1954 saw Docherty establish himself more in the team and he would play in the World Cup itself shortly after.
Scotland’s first ever World Cup was a bit of a disaster in many ways. Scotland did pick a squad of 22 players but the great minds at the SFA decided to only take a squad of 13 players and also allowed Rangers to take their players on a Club tour instead. Scotland’s first game was against Austria in Zurich which they narrowly lost 1-0, however in their next game in the heat of Basle they were ran ragged by Uruguay losing 7-0. Tommy played in both games as did another future Scotland manager Willie Ormond.
Sadly, this was not the last time Tommy was in a Scotland side that shipped 7 goals; they would do so again in April, 1955 losing 7-2 to England at Wembley. Aberdeen’s Fred Martin was the unfortunate Scotland goalie on both occasions. Lawrie Reilly scored Scotland’s first goal with Tommy hitting his only Scotland goal late in the second half.
A month later and on a tour of Europe, Tommy took part in an impressive 4-1 win in Vienna in a friendly over Austria. A week or so later and Scotland lost 3-1 to Hungary in Budapest.
Tommy was an integral part of the team that qualified for the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. After another defeat to England in April ’57, Scotland went on a three game winning spree in May that year. First up was their opening World Cup qualifying game against Spain at Hampden, which thanks to a Jackie Mudie of Blackpool hat-trick Scotland won 4-2. John Hewie of Charlton scored the other goal from the penalty spot.
Next up was another qualifier this time in Basle against Switzerland. Scotland lost an early goal but thanks to goals from Mudie and Bobby Collins of Celtic Scotland emerged with a 2-1 win. Three days later and a 3-1 friendly win in Stuttgart over West Germany occurred with Bobby Collins hitting a double and Mudie adding also to the tally. Docherty was given the captaincy at this point taking over from George Young, who played his last Scotland game in Basle; no doubt injury must have ruled him out.
However, the merry month of May was to finish with a thud as Scotland were crushed 4-1 by Spain with the wonderful Gordon Smith supplying the only Scotland goal in what was to be his last game for Scotland.
November, 1957 and Scotland faced Switzerland at home in their final World Cup Qualifier. Scotland would win 3-2 and I imagine it got quite nervy towards the end when the Swiss scored their second with only ten minutes remaining. However, goals by Archie Robertson of Clyde, Mudie with another and Alex Scott of Rangers had already put Scotland in the driving seat for the win by this time. The Swiss had already drawn away to Spain and this victory ensured Scotland’s place in the 1958 World Cup but before that there was another game against England at Hampden. Scotland could not find a way to beat England during this era and again were the victims of a 4-0 drubbing at Hampden. This would be Tommy’s last game as a Preston North End player for Scotland but also his last as Captain.
Tommy did travel to the World Cup in ’58 but was not fully fit and took on a more coaching, scouting role for the team. Scotland would open with a draw against Yugoslavia followed by two narrow defeats to Paraguay (3-2) and France (2-1).
Tommy moved to Arsenal in 1958 and returned to the Scotland side for the whole of the 1958-‘59 Home International Series. This first of these games in October ’58 was against Wales at Ninian Park where Denis Law would make his entrance to the International stage. Law would score the second of Scotland’s goals with Graham Leggat of Fulham and Bobby Collins, then with Everton scoring the other. A two each draw with Northern Ireland followed in November at Hampden with David Herd of Arsenal and Collins once more scoring.
Docherty’s last game for Scotland was at Wembley in April, 1959 where a solitary goal by Bobby Charlton would prove to be the winner.
Tommy would of course go on to manage Scotland in 1971 and would manage them for part of their successful 1974 World Cup campaign before moving to become the manager of Manchester United. Tommy is of course well known for his wit and humour and at times is a bit full of himself to say the least but for all that; Happy Birthday Tommy and all the best.