15/04/1924 – 28/12/2020
2020 was, to put it mildly, an awful year and it ended with the deaths of two footballers of the same name and whilst the Tommy Docherty who both played for and managed Scotland in a career that stretched from 1948 until 1988 received numerous tributes in the press the other Tom Docherty received scant coverage with just a mention on City’s official website Tom Docherty: 1924-2020 – News – Lincoln City (weareimps.com) to date, writes Gary Parle.
After impressing as part of a victorious Lyons Boys side in a Durham County Boys Club Final at Roker Park in 1942 outside left Tom signed for Sunderland on amateur forms immediately after the match but later moved to Murton Colliery from where he joined City in July 1947 making his FL debut at Barrow in September. Described in 1948 as “very fast and forceful with a strong shot” he eventually totalled 45 FL appearances for the Imps, scoring three goals, with a further three cup appearances, two in the FA Cup and one in the Lincolnshire Cup. In common with many of his colleagues at the time, he was a part-time player who worked locally as a plasterer. Made available for transfer in 1950 he joined Norwich City for a reported fee of £5000 although the Echo was quick to point out that the exact fee, whilst not disclosed, was far less than that.
He spent three seasons at Carrow Road making 85 (4 goals) FL appearances whilst scoring three times in seven FA Cup ties before further moves to Reading, 53 FL apps, two goals and one FA Cup app, and Newport where his three seasons saw 108 FL apps scoring once with five FA Cup appearances. His later seasons saw him convert to the half-back line rather than the wing and after leaving Newport in 1958 he later played non-League football with King’s Lynn, March Town, Parson Drove and Wisbech Town before finally stopping playing in 1966.
At the time of his death, Tom was the oldest known former Lincoln player although he had only held the distinction since June after Roy Moody had passed away at the age of 97 years and 98 days which is the oldest age, from those with known birth and death dates, any former City Football League player has reached. Derek Hawksworth who was born in July 1927 and appeared for City 36 times in the Football League, scoring 14 times, between 1959 and 1961 is now the oldest known Imp.
It is believed there are four more ex Imps still alive from the 1920s all of whom were born in 1929. They are Roy Killin in July, Bernard Shaw in September, John Varney in November and Ron Harbertson in December who has been the guest of the Former Players Association on several occasions on match days.
Whilst it is true that time and tide wait for no man for many Imps over a certain age it is perhaps a sobering thought to think that there are fewer than 80 players who made their Imps Football League debut before 1970 who are still alive.