Everyone at Preston North End is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former player and manager Tommy Docherty.
Tommy Docherty has sadly passed away today, New Year’s Eve, aged 92, just one week after the death of another ex-North Ender, Davie Sneddon.
The ‘Doc’, as he was affectionately known, who became one of football’s greatest characters, both on and off the field, signed for Preston North End in November 1949 for a £5,000 transfer fee having played just ten games for Glasgow Celtic.
Strangely he made his North End debut in the outside-left position against Leeds United on Christmas Eve 1949. Quickly dropped he re-appeared in March 1950 in his preferred position in the number 4 shirt, that of right-half or right-sided midfield nowadays.
He kept that shirt his own for the next eight years. Fast and tigerish in the tackle he created a huge impression with the Deepdale fans of the 1950’s. Everyone loves a trier and his 100% effort and enthusiasm meant that he was an ideal wing half/midfield player.
Full of stamina, his best compliment was that he was likened to Bill Shankly in his North End days. Docherty played a massive part of North End’s successes in the 1950’s with the Second Division championship promotion year in 1950 and the two First Division runners-up seasons of 1951-1952 and 1957-1958.
He was also a driving force in North End’s FA cup run to the 1954 final and moreover a huge admirer of Tom Finney. Playing just behind him nobody knew more about Sir Tom’s game than the ‘Doc’ did. Whilst a North End player Tommy Docherty won 22 Scottish full international caps, and like his team mate, Willie Cunningham, proudly captained his country.
In July 1958 Everton came sniffing around for his signature and offered £15,000 which was immediately rejected but at the end of August 1958 the Club transferred him to Arsenal for £28,000. Ironically his last game for the Lilywhites was against Arsenal and when playing for Arsenal he broke his leg, playing against the North End!
He had made 349 league and cup appearances for Preston North End. As is common knowledge he later took up coaching and management which is a different chapter in his colourful career. Sadly, more North End fans will probably remember him for his unsuccessful spell as the North End manager than those who saw him play with distinction for the Club.
Our condolences go out to his family and friends.