Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

In Pictures: Football's Peter Doherty was 'Mr Magic'

Football star Peter Doherty in action at Grosvenor Park, Belfast.  10/10/1945
Football star Peter Doherty in action at Grosvenor Park, Belfast. 10/10/1945
Football star Peter Doherty during a Northern Ireland training session.
Football star Peter Doherty arriving at Aldergrove on one of his many trips home.
Football star Peter Doherty
Football star Peter Doherty pictured holding one of the many trophies he received as a player
Peter Doherty makes a piont to Martin harvey and Fay Coyle.
Peter Doherty in his days as Northern Ireland team manager keeping his eye on the golf swing of a young Danny Blanchflower before an international with Wales. 1952
Young Louis Watt (2nd from left), a pupil of Fourtowns Primary School, Ahoghill, was thrilled when after winning the Primary Schools Penalty kick competition he received his award from Peter Doherty. 6/3/1978
Peter Doherty and Danny Blanchflower talk tactics

It would be very difficult to overlook George Best as the greatest footballer to come out of Northern Ireland, but there is one man who must run him a very close second...Peter Doherty.

IDoherty, perhaps, didn't have the same charisma that made the Cregagh Road lad stand out above all others, but he had a footballing talent which at that time, turned him into a local hero.

From his schooldays In Magherafelt, Peter had only one burning ambition...to be a professional footballer. An ambition tainted with sorrow, for his older brother Joe lost a leg as the result of an injury.

Even when Peter left school and took up a job as an apprentice on a building site to help out with family income, his mind never wavered...he was going to be a football star.

So, naturally, the flame haired lad didn't stay too long on the building sites and soon moved got a job as a conductor in his uncle's bus company, punching tickets on the Coleraine— Portstewart run.

After serving an early soccer apprenticeship with Johnny Brown's Station United, Peter joined Coleraine and his first outing on the Showgrounds turf came during a trial match. Norman Lynn missed the train from Belfast and

Peter was asked to don the No. 7 shirt.

He only played for twenty minutes but it was enough to whet the younster's appetite which led to a glittering career and included international caps...an FA Cup medal and countless trips to Europe and other continents.

After a spell at Coleraine, Peter decided to move to Belfast and it was Glentoran who signed the brilliant youngster with the dazzling feet. It was a recommendation by Billy McSevenny, whose brother Alan played for the club, that put Peter on the road to success.

Succss which started with a telegram from Glentoran arriving at his Coleraine home: "SELECTED FOR THE FIRST TEAM. SATURDAY —McKITTERICK." Doherty was on his way.

It didn't take the cross-channel talent spotters long to hear of the exciting Glentoran player, and after a brilliant individual performance against the mighty Belfast Celtic in the semi-final of the Gold Cup, which Glentoran won 3-1, Blackpool stepped in with an offer.

And they certainly got a bargain for £1,900.

So Peter joined the greats at Bloomfleld Road. He rubbed shoulders with Jimmy Hampson, Dickie Watmough, Sam Jones, Bobby Dougall, Jock Wallace, Bobby Finan, Louis Cardwell, Danny Blair and George Farrow.

Two years later Peter was awarded his first international cap, just when Blackpool hit troubled times. Doherty was worth money and the "feelers' started to come in from Highbury, Goodison Park and Deepdale, but it was to Maine Road, home of Manchester City that Peter was transferred.

Peter was happy there, playing with such names as Brook, Tilson, Swift, Dale, Barkas, Bray and Busby.

Doherty did national service with the RAF during the war and guested for no fewer than 16 teams, including a remarkable partnership with the great Stanley Matthews in the Service side...the duo thrilled fans whereever they went.

At the end of the war Peter parted with City and joined Derby County where he linked up with the great Raich Carter to form one of the hottest inside forward partnerships In professional football.

From there he went to Huddersfield Town as player manager, helping them to escape relegation with one arm in plaster. Doherty was an idol at Leeds Road and is still fondly remembered there.

On leaving Huddersfield, Doherty formed an Irish connection at Doncaster Rovers where he was a hero and one of the best men in charge in the history of the Yorkshire Club.

As a manager Peter Doherty was a tremendous motivator. As Northern Ireland boss, not one player left the dressing room with a feeling that they were second rate. He filled them with national pride.

He managed his country from 1951 until 1962 and during that time guided the team to the glory days of the 1958 World Cup In Sweden. It was there that Northern Ireland reached the quarter- finals of the most glamorous, most competitive football championship.

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