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Peter Doherty

Peter Doherty Northern Irish footballer

Northern Irish footballer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Northern Irish footballer
A.K.A. Peter Dermot Doherty
Was Athlete Football player Association football player Sports official Association football manager
From United Kingdom
Type Sports
Gender male
Birth 5 June 1913, Magherafelt, United Kingdom
Death 6 April 1990, Poulton-le-Fylde, United Kingdom (aged 76 years)
Star sign GeminiGemini
Height: 178 cm
English Football Hall of Fame  
Sports Teams
Blackpool F.C.
Huddersfield Town A.F.C.
Derby County F.C.
Doncaster Rovers F.C.
Manchester City F.C.
Port Vale F.C.
Manchester United F.C.
Lincoln City F.C.
Brentford F.C.
Coleraine F.C.
Glentoran F.C.
The details

Peter Dermot Doherty (5 June 1913 – 6 April 1990) was a Northern Ireland international footballer and manager who played for several clubs, including Manchester City and Doncaster Rovers.

An inside left, he was one of the top players of his time, winning a league title with Manchester City, an F.A. Cup final with Derby County in which he scored, and gained 16 caps for Ireland. His later career saw him as the central figure as player and manager during Doncaster Rovers most successful era. At the same time he managed Northern Ireland, leading them to their most successful achievement reaching the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1958. He was in the first group of 22 players to be inducted into the English Football Players Hall of Fame.

Playing career

A plaque marks the birthplace of Doherty in Magherafelt.
Doherty (left), in his Manchester City days, shaking hands with Jimmy Hampson, of his first club, Blackpool, in the late 1930s. The two were former teammates at Blackpool.

Born in Magherafelt, County Londonderry, Doherty began his career with Glentoran in the Irish League. After helping Glentoran to the 1933 Irish Cup, early in the 1933–34 season Doherty joined English club Blackpool, at the age of 19. He joined Manchester City on 19 February 1936 for a then-club record of £10,000. Blackpool needed the money urgently, and Doherty was summoned from his lunch to report to Bloomfield Road. The Irishman tried hard to persuade Blackpool directors that he did not wish to leave the club, for he was due to marry a local girl and had just bought a new house in the town. The fee was an exceptionally high transfer fee for the period; it came within £1,000 of the British record. Doherty's Manchester City debut, against Preston North End, was not a successful one. Tightly man-marked by Bill Shankly throughout, he failed to make an impact, leading to one catcall from the crowd of "Ten thousand pounds? More like ten thousand cigarette cards". Doherty later described the remainder of his first Manchester City season as "uneventful", but his second was to be anything but.

Manchester City started the 1936–37 season poorly, and were in the bottom half of the table until December. Occasional big wins, including a 6–2 defeat of West Bromwich Albion and a 4–1 defeat of Everton, were mixed with extended barren runs; at one point the club gained just one win in twelve matches. However, Doherty was scoring goals regularly. A goal in a 5–3 Christmas day loss to Grimsby Town was his twelfth of the season. Christmas proved to be a turning point for the club, as a win against Middlesbrough the following day was the start of a long unbeaten run. By April, Manchester City were second in the table, and faced a fixture against Arsenal, league leaders and the dominant club of the period. Doherty scored the first goal in a 2–0 win, and City reached the top of the table. The unbeaten run continued until the end of the season, and City secured their first league championship with a 4–1 win over Sheffield Wednesday. Doherty, with 30 league goals, was the club's leading scorer, helped by a run of eleven goals in seven games as the season drew to a close.

Doherty scored 79 goals in 130 appearances during his time at Maine Road. During the Second World War years of 1939–1945, Doherty served in the RAF. He remained registered as a Manchester City player, scoring 60 goals in 89 wartime matches, though wartime games are not generally included in official records. He also guested for numerous clubs across the country: Port Vale, Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, Birmingham, Brentford, Grimsby Town, Lincoln City, Liverpool, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Walsall. During a guest appearance for Port Vale in 1945, he famously went to take a penalty but instead of shooting he laid it off to a teammate who scored.

After the conclusion of the war, he transferred to Derby County, with whom he won the FA Cup, scoring a goal in the final itself. In December 1946, Doherty moved to Huddersfield Town for a fee of over £9,000 after requesting a transfer. Doherty was unhappy with the directors who opposed his plan to secure his future by taking over the Arboretum Hotel and an earlier dispute over FA Cup Final tickets. At Huddersfield he scored 33 goals in 83 league appearances.

In his autobiography, Len Shackleton wrote of Doherty:

"Peter Doherty was surely the genius among geniuses. Possessor of the most baffling body swerve in football, able to perform all the tricks with the ball, owning a shot like the kick of a mule, and, with all this, having such tremendous enthusiasm for the game that he would work like a horse for ninety minutes. That was pipe-smoking Peter Doherty, the Irish redhead who, I am convinced, had enough football skill to stroll through a game smoking that pipe-and still make the other twenty-one players appear second-raters. But of course Peter never strolled through anything. His energy had to be seen to be appreciated."

Management career

He made his final move to Doncaster in 1949, where he assumed the role of player-manager. He later became manager of Northern Ireland (1951–1962), for whom he had 16 caps as a player. He led the country to the 1958 World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals. He also managed Bristol City.

His coaching techniques were revolutionary at the time. He emphasised ball practice and instead of endless laps of the pitch, Doherty suggested volleyball, "to promote jumping, timing and judgement"; basketball, "to encourage split-second decision-making and finding space"; and walking football, "to build up calf muscles".

Later life saw him become a scout for Liverpool, helping to unearth such talents as Kevin Keegan.

Honours and awards

Doherty won a league championship medal with Manchester City in 1937 and a cup winner's medal with Derby in the 1946 FA Cup Final.

He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Following his death in 1990, there is a plaque to mark his birthplace in Magherafelt. It can be found at what is now a barber shop.


Club statistics


Club Season Division League FA Cup Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Blackpool 1933–34 Second Division 19 4 2 1 21 5
1934–35 Second Division 35 13 1 0 36 13
1935–36 Second Division 28 11 2 0 30 11
Total 82 28 5 1 87 29
Manchester City 1935–36 First Division 9 4 0 0 9 4
1936–37 First Division 41 30 4 2 45 32
1937–38 First Division 41 23 5 2 46 25
1938–39 Second Division 28 17 2 1 30 18
Total 119 74 11 5 130 79
Derby County 1945–46 0 0 10 10 10 10
1946–47 First Division 15 7 2 0 17 7
Total 15 7 12 10 27 17
Huddersfield Town 1946–47 First Division 19 7 1 2 20 9
1947–48 First Division 38 13 1 0 39 13
1948–49 First Division 26 13 2 1 28 14
Total 83 33 4 3 87 36
Doncaster Rovers 1949–50 Third Division North 35 27 4 3 39 30
1950–51 Second Division 23 14 0 0 23 14
1951–52 Second Division 16 6 1 0 17 6
1952–53 Second Division 29 9 1 0 30 9
Total 103 56 6 3 109 59
Career total 402 198 38 22 440 220

International statistics

Ireland national team
Year Apps Goals
1935 4 0
1936 1 0
1937 3 1
1938 1 0
1939 1 0
1946 1 0
1947 2 3
1948 2 0
1949 0 0
1950 1 0
Total 16 4
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 24 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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