In 1979 I was a trainee reporter on a west London local paper. Tommy Docherty had recently arrived for his second spell at Queens Park Rangers, a big club at the time, and I was asked to phone him for his views on the coming weekend’s game. It was with some trepidation that I dialled his number. Docherty was a huge name and it hadn’t been long since his abrupt departure from Manchester United. How would he react to this call from a greenhorn reporter from the obscure Ealing Gazette?
“I’m sorry to bother you at home, Mr Docherty,” was my opening gambit. “Don’t worry, laddie, you’re just doing your job,” was the reply. After that he couldn’t have been more helpful.
Tommy Docherty was manager of Chelsea when they visited Australia in 1965 and played games in all the states. Against Tasmania at North Hobart Oval they won 12-0 (half-time 4-0) in front of a crowd of 4,500. To everyone’s surprise, Docherty warmed up at half-time, brought himself on for the second half and scored a penalty.
I was a 16-year-old student at Hobart matriculation college at the time and the school soccer team had to obtain special permission from the headmaster to go and watch the game. Before it started I obtained Docherty’s autograph and still have it in my autograph book.