Sadness at death of former Norwich City star Tom Docherty
The football world was saddened when former Scotland player and Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty died on New Year’s Eve, aged 92.
But older football fans in Fenland were already in mourning after namesake Tom Docherty, a former March Town player, passed away just three days earlier, on December 28, aged 96.
The Doc had a glittering career, playing for Preston North End, Arsenal, Celtic and Scotland, before managing Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester United too, but March’s very own Docherty also enjoyed a fantastic journey.
The left winger was born in the Sunderland area of Penshaw on April 15, 1924. After impressing as part of a victorious Lyons Boys side in the Durham County Boys Club Final atSunderland’s Roker Park in 1942, Tom signed for the Rokermen on amateur forms.
But he later moved to North Eastern League Murton Colliery Welfare from where he joined Lincoln City in July 1947, making his Football League debut at Barrow in September.Described in 1948 as “very fast and forceful with a strong shot,” he totalled 48 appearances for the Imps, scoring three goals.
Lincoln won Division Three North in Tom’s first season, but were relegated after one season in Division Two. Tom’s third and final season saw the Sincil Bank outfit finish fourth, missing out on the title by just four points.
In common with many of his colleagues at the time, he was a part-time player who worked locally as a plasterer.He joined Norwich City for a reported fee of £5,000 in 1950, where he earned £12-a-week with a £2 win bonus.
Under manager Norman Low, he played 92 times for the Canaries over three seasons, scoring seven goals.
His finest moment in yellow and green came in his debut season when his two goals in a 3-1 win against First Division side Liverpool helped the Canaries to a shock FA Cup third round victory in front of 34,641 fans at Carrow Road. The Reds’ side that day included the legendary Bob Paisley.
The cup run came to an end in the next round, ironically at Sunderland, this time in front of a crowd of more than 65,000.
However, having managed to get Lincoln promoted, that accolade would narrowly avoid him at Carrow Road as Norwich finished second, third and fourth place in Division Three South.
He then went on to to join fellow Third Division South side Reading between 1953 and 1955, scoring twice in 54 appearances as The Royals finished eight in 1953-54 and 18th in 1954-55. He then spent three years playing in Wales for Newport County, scoring once in 113 games, the Ironsides finishing 19th, 12th and 11th.
In 1958 he joinedSouthern League King’s Lynn, at the time one of the best sides outside of the Football League,and converted to the halfback line.
March Town manager Paul Todd brought him to the GER in 1959, and he was in the side that beat Tottenham Hotspur A 1-0 at White Hart Lane in the 1961 Eastern Counties League Cup final, Brian Flack scoring the all-important goal.
Working as a self-employed plasterer, he played for March until 1962 before having a couple of years in the Peterborough League with Parson Drove and having a spell managing Wisbech Town Reserves.
In 2002, aged 78, Tommy was given a standing ovation at Carrow Road alongside other former Norwich City greats, as the Canaries celebrated their centenary season.
In his later years he enjoyed dominoes and indoor bowls.