Football Remembers: Tommy Docherty's story

31 Dec 2020

Members of Chelsea's Academy visited a former manager who spoke about his childhood and serving his country in the Armed Forces

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For Tommy Docherty, playing football may have been a question of life and death when he was in the army in dangerous post-war Palestine.

"It got you away from a lot of guard duties and dangerous situations," the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager told two Chelsea Academy boys who visited in 2019. "You [still] had to do your spell of guard duties and they got bombed, shot at.

"We were in the King David hotel, in Palestine, in Jerusalem, when it was blown up. We lost two or three very good lads there. We were just lucky to get away with it."

Taking charge

A year later, Docherty's football career started at his boyhood club Celtic. Spells at Preston North End, Arsenal and Chelsea followed before the latter set him on the road to management.

"I came to Chelsea as a youth team coach," he said. "We had some great players and we won the Youth Cup, three times in succession.

"After that we got relegated and I got put in charge [of the first team]. And then I brought them straight back up again and we never looked back after that."

Success included the 1964/65 EFL Cup, the introduction of former club record goalscorer Bobby Tambling and changing the club's shorts from white to make it the iconic all-blue kit.

Docherty, whose death was announced on 31 December 2020 at the age of 92, was talking to Chelsea Academy boys Derrick and Harvey last year in a visit organised by the Premier League's Education department in partnership with Big Ideas as part of Football Remembers WWII.

The partnership pays tribute from the football family to all those - players and supporters - who served their country during World War II.

Also in this series

Part 1: Arthur House's story
Part 2: Tony Collins' story
Part 3: Josser Watling's story
Part 4: Gordon Astall's story
Part 5: Charles White's story
Part 6: Charlie Chase's story
Part 7: Bobby Brown's story
Part 8: Bill Blount's story
Part 10: Reg Harrison's story
Part 11: Dudley Kernick's story 

See: Football Remembers WWII

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