From a fireside chair in his house on the edge of the Peak District, Tommy Docherty treated visitors to a torrent of beautiful stories, often revolving around things he had done wrong.
“Never should have gone to Rotherham,” he would say. “Should never have gone to Australia” or “Should never have left the job in Scotland”.
He would confess his mistakes and curse his own impatience. “Yes, that’s one of my weaknesses,” he would say.
Tommy Docherty led Manchester United to his first cutlery after Matt Busby and defeated Liverpool to win the 1977 FA Cup at Wembley. Doherty died at the age of 92.
Docherty with George Best during his five year tenure at Manchester United
On Stamford Bridge, Docherty built another successful team that ran Chelsea between 1961 and 1967
As a racing driver par excellence, Doc, who died on Thursday at the age of 92, knew where the laughs were hidden.
His wit was quick, and his timing was perfected through the hundreds of speeches made after dinner, at fan events, and more recently on board the cruise lines.
Depending on his audience, it could be his failed attempt to mark Juan Alberto Schiaffino when Scotland scored seven goals in the 1954 World Cup against Uruguay.
It could be his talent for annoying people with his impetuous nature, caustic humor, and inability to keep a decent one-liner to himself. There are many examples.
He might even, if you dare, tell a lighthearted story about his affair with Mary Brown, who ended his tenure as manager of Manchester United just days after winning the FA Cup.
Though he was more likely to note that he became “the only manager fired for falling in love” and that there was no regret that she was worth “20 Man Uniteds”.
Docherty alongside Bill Shankly (left) and Bob Paisley (center), who were pictured together in 1977
Shankly was on hand to present an award to ‘The Doc’ at the end of the 1975-76 campaign
Docherty is introduced to the crowd during a Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge in 2010
Docherty was never afraid of his own opinion, and seldom lacked confidence. He was quick to joke about his mistakes, but recognized his successes – and he considered his marriage to Mary perhaps his greatest achievement.
Born in the Gorbals in Glasgow, he served in the Highland Light Infantry and served at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem when it was blown up by terrorists in 1946, killing 91 people.
His footballing achievements in the British Army earned him a contract with Celtic before moving to Preston at the age of 21, where he spent most of his game days.
He was a talented right half on a team with Tom Finney on the wing. They won promotion to the top division in 1951, were twice runners-up in the old Division One and reached the FA Cup final in 1954.
Docherty won 25 international matches in Scotland and competed in two World Cups, though he is best remembered for his charismatic career as a manager at 13 different clubs.
Inspecting his Manchester United players, including Lou Macari, before a game in the 1970s
United’s 1977 FA Cup win was the high point of his time at Old Trafford – he always believed that if he had stayed as manager, more cutlery would follow
He was the original with “more clubs than Jack Nicklaus” and went to Portugal in 1970 as Porto boss and to Australia twice with South Melbourne and Sydney Olympic. There was a little over a year for Scotland and two spells with the Queens Park Rangers. Or was it three?
Docherty was in charge of QPR for 29 days between Rotherham and Aston Villa in 1968 and returned after leaving Derby in 1979. Chairman Jim Gregory fired him in May 1980, only to reinstate him nine days later and fired him again in October.
He had a reputation for dueling with the biggest egos in the locker room. Yet amid all the turmoil, jokes and confrontations, Docherty created two longer teams at Chelsea and Manchester United.
Both were built on youthful foundations, both determined to attack the flair, and his work on Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford made a deep impression on those who watched from the terraces.
At Chelsea in the 1960s, where he ended his career as a player, Docherty revitalized and revolutionized a declining club with modern coaching techniques and bleeding young players from the successful youth team including Ron Harris and Terry Venables.
Docherty on his wedding day with first wife Agnes in Glasgow. He was playing for Celtic at the time
Docherty in the colors of Scotland before an international match against Sweden in 1953 (left) and helping with washing up at home in 1961 before starting his managerial career
Quickly referred to as “Docherty’s Diamonds”, they won promotion to the top division in 1963 and the League Cup in 1965 – a first major trophy since the championship title a decade ago – and to Europe.
Docherty always said his Chelsea side would have won the league “three or four times” if financial problems hadn’t forced them to sell young goalkeeper Jimmy Greaves to AC Milan for £ 80,000 just months before replacing Ted Drake .
At 33 he was in charge, and one of his first duties was flying to Italy on the orders of Chairman Joe Mears and giving the illusion that he was trying to re-sign Greaves.
“We went out on orders not to bring it back because we couldn’t afford it,” he said. “It was just to make it look good to the punters.”
Closest to the title in 1965, they challenged Manchester United and Leeds when Docherty sent eight players home in April for breaking a curfew in Blackpool and losing 6-2 at Burnley without them. They finished third, five points behind Masters United.
Docherty (center) started his career at Celtic but made his mark at Preston North End before retiring at Arsenal and then Chelsea
Docherty introduced himself on a train to Swansea in 1965 while serving as Chelsea boss
He was fired at the end of the season following an incident on a Caribbean tour at the end of the season, shortly after losing to Tottenham in the 1967 FA Cup final, but his legacy at the bridge extended beyond the excitement of football and the team’s foundations that came later won the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup under Dave Sexton.
Docherty also introduced blue shorts to replace the white ones they wore. He came to consider Chelsea as his “favorite club”. They sent him a Harrods basket for Christmas, he pointed out. Manchester United, however, wanted to bill him for tickets.
He left the job in Scotland to replace his friend Frank O’Farrell at United and, despite relegation and a season in the second division, Docherty was able to cut ties with the past and pursue new goals.
Legends like Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best were eliminated and a new team was formed around young players like Sammy McIlroy and Brian Greenhoff as well as new signings from the lower leagues Gordon Hill and Steve Coppell.
Docherty with his “Shooting Stars” Steve Coppell (left) and Gordon Hill (right) at Manchester United in 1976
Docherty celebrates Man United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in the 1977 FA Cup Final