James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker Samuel Beckett Sam Hanna Bell William Carleton John Hewitt Rosamond Praegar Bernard (Barney) Hughes

Peter Doherty (1913 - 1990):
Footballer


Peter Doherty was of the leading football players of his generation who after his playing days also shone as a team manager, in both cases at domestic and at international level.

Peter Dermott Doherty was born in Magherafelt, County Londonderry on 4 June 1913 and first attended Hall Street National School in Maghera. In the early 1920s the family of ten children, seven boys and three girls, moved to Coleraine, where they lived at Victoria Terrace, within sight of the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds which would become the home of Coleraine Football Club, founded in 1927. Doherty enrolled in St Malachy's Public Elementary School on 4 September 1923 and left in 1927, aged 14.

His football career began at Station United in Coleraine after which he played briefly at the recently-formed Coleraine FC. In 1931 he joined Glentoran FC, one of the major clubs in Northern Ireland, with whom he won the Irish Cup in 1933. That year he was transferred to Blackpool - for a fee of £2,000 - for whom he made 82 appearances, scoring 36 goals, until his departure for Manchester City in 1936 for a fee £10,000, then a club record. He won a league championship medal in 1937, scoring 30 goals in that season. His playing career was interrupted by the Second World War during which he served in the RAF. It came to an end in 1953 by which time he had made a total of 402 first-team appearances for Blackpool (1933-36), Manchester City (1936-45), Derby County (1945-6), Huddersfield Town (1946-49) and Doncaster Rovers (1949-53), scoring a total of 200 goals. He spent the last years of his playing life as player-manager at Doncaster and remained there as manager until 1958. Peter Byrne, in Green is the Colour. The Story of Irish Football, describes Doherty, a skilful inside-forward with a good goal-scoring record, as being “regarded by many of the older generation of football supporters as the finest Irish player of them all .... a player with the skill of George Best and the courage of Nat Lofthouse, [he] bore favourable comparison with the celebrated English forwards of the time, Raich Carter and Wilf Mannion”. Doherty in fact played alongside Carter in the Derby County team that won the first FA Cup Final in the post-war era in 1946, scoring one of the extra-time goals that saw Derby emerge as 4-1 winners over Charlton Athletic. He also represented Ireland sixteen times, scoring three goals.

Doherty's remarkable career in football was made all the more extraordinary because of the success he attained as a manager, this time of the new Northern Ireland football team. He was appointed in 1951 and by the time it qualified for the World Cup finals in Sweden in 1958 he had developed a team that embodied the skilful ball-playing ethos and physical resourcefulness that had characterised his own approach to the game. In this regard he was helped by the core of the team - Bertie Peacock (Glasgow Celtic), Jimmy McIlroy (Burnley), Peter McParland (Aston Villa) and, most influential of all perhaps, the captain, Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur) with whom Doherty formed a very effective and innovative relationship. Doherty and Blanchflower's combined tactical prowess - including innovative use of the defensive wall for opposing free kicks, and short corners - enabled Northern Ireland to eliminate Italy and Portugal in the qualifying round. In Sweden the team, though drawn in the same group as Argentina, Czechoslovakia and the 1954 winners, West Germany, and increasingly burdened by a series of injuries at a time when it was much more difficult to replace players, reached the quarter finals, going down 4-0 to France. 

Doherty, who died in Poulton-le Fylde in Lancashire on 6 April 1990 aged 76, was among the first 22 players to be inducted into the Football Association's Hall of Fame. The house in Magherafelt where he was born has a commemorative blue plaque in his honour, unveiled by Magherafelt District Council.



Born: 4 June 1913
Died: 6 April 1990
Trevor Parkhill
Bibliography:
PRONI SCH1194/1/3 St Malachy's National/Public Elementary School Coleraine; Peter Byrne: Green is the Colour. The Story of Irish Football (Carlton Books London, 2012); Peter Doherty: Spotlight on Football (Art & Educational Publishers, London & Glasgow, 1947); Peter Bowler: Danny Blanchflower. A Biography of a Visionary (Victor Gollanz, 1997)PRONI SCH1194/1/3 St Malachy's National/Public Elementary School Coleraine; Peter Byrne: Green is the Colour. The Story of Irish Football (Carlton Books London, 2012); Peter Doherty: Spotlight on Football (Art & Educational Publishers, London & Glasgow, 1947); Peter Bowler: Danny Blanchflower. A Biography of a Visionary (Victor Gollanz, 1997)