Colin Benson selects one of the players from this season's Arsenal A-Z feature to talk about their time with the Club.

We have today reached the last of the players whose surname begins with the letter 'D' and gone through to 'F'. As in every group we are reminded of outstanding footballers like the great George Eastham, who celebrated his 70th birthday last month and was the first to test the legality of the maximum wage. But I have chosen a character who played and managed the game at both club and international levels. The larger than life TOMMY DOCHERTY.

Tommy, it was indeed your loyalty to Scotland that triggered the events that brought you to Highbury in 1958. How did that come about?

I was transferred from Preston on August 14, 1958 and signed in the Preston manager's office. I had been at odds with manager Cliff Britton because they didn't want me to go to Sweden to play for Scotland in the World Cup Finals that summer because they had a club tour to South Africa. That was to last for about seven weeks and I could have gone for four of them, which I was quite happy to do. But Britton told me 'no you either come for the lot or you don't come at all.' The annoying thing about it was they took a young full-back called John O'Neill who had never played for the club; and I'd done ten seasons with them.

Is the story that you forgot to ask about the wages at Arsenal true? That would surely be a first for you?!

To be quite honest it wasn't an issue because there was a League maximum wage so you didn't really have to ask because you knew what you were getting. The bonuses were the same for all the players - I think then it was six quid for a win and three for a draw.

Who was the first Arsenal official to approach you about moving to London?

Ron Greenwood asked me in the summer when I was at Lilleshall getting my coaching badge. Ron was one of the staff coaches and said; 'I see you are linked with us Tom." I said, 'yes I saw that in the paper Ron.' He said: 'Do you fancy it?' I said, 'ooh yeah not half I'd love to play for the Gunners.' Although I'd never have left Preston if it hadn't been for Cliff Britton how could I come to a better, or bigger, club than Arsenal?

I had read it first in the papers but they always speculate and a lot of it is true and a lot of it is not but they were spot on. Ron must have told George Swindin that Tom fancies coming to Highbury for the following week Cliff Britton told me to be in his office at two o'clock on the Saturday before the kick-off with Arsenal. He asked me if I definitely wanted to go and I said after the way you have treated me yes I do. Bob Wall was in the office there with George Swindin and myself and I signed my first contract for Arsenal.

Your Arsenal introduction was in the number six shirt against Burnley at Highbury. And you celebrated your debut in fine style with a goal - the only one in fact you ever scored for the Gunners.

That's right - it must have been from 12-yards because that was the nearest I ever came to scoring. But they were a terrific bunch of lads - Bill Dodgin, Dave Bowen, Vic Groves, Jimmy Bloomfield they made you feel at home straight away.

Your fourth appearance for Arsenal Tommy was against Everton at Goodison Park - do you recall that game at all?

Yeah we gave them a hiding didn't we? We beat them 6-1 and I remember Dave Hickson running about like a madman trying to get the ball and when he did get it he couldn't control it. David Herd, who I also played with for Scotland, scored four goals. He had a ferocious right-foot shot on him.

What were the first things that struck you on becoming a Gunner?

The discipline here was far greater than at Preston. When you came into training of a morning you had to have a collar and tie and a suit on. And your hair had to be short and tidy. Bob Wall would tell you to go and get a short back and sides.  

It was certainly a different era. For when you made your first appearance for Scotland as an Arsenal player, against Wales, you were joined by Jackie Henderson and David Herd and had Kelsey and Bowen in the opposition. Yet Arsenal still had to fulfil their League fixture that afternoon and drew 1-1 at home to Wolves.

That's right you couldn't call a game off because you had players away on international duty in those days. So the big teams with the greater number of international players suffered the most.

Was Ron Greenwood the inspiration behind your decision to become a coach?

Very much so, very much so, he was outstanding, an excellent teacher with great ideas. And of course playing for Arsenal was a stepping stone to a big job when one became available.

And that coaching job was at Chelsea, then managed by former Highbury hero, Ted Drake. Tell me about him?

I couldn't tell you a lot about him actually because he never came out to work with the team. He didn't take the training or anything like that. He'd come out occasionally to look at what you were doing then away in again. When you saw him it was always in his office in collar and tie, spick and span like a tailor's dummy. I remember on the side-line up at Newcastle when we hammered them at St James Park I said, 'this Greaves is the best goalscorer I have ever seen'. Ted said 'yes but he can't defend!' I couldn't believe it. The welcome I got from Ted Drake when I arrived as first-team coach was 'many congratulations Tom. I just want you to know, no hard feelings but Vic Buckingham was my choice.' I thought fair enough he is honest.

Looking back on your colourful career Tom what is the first thing that springs to mind?

To get paid for something I loved doing. Playing for my country, captain of my country and later on managing my country. You don't get anything better than that.


Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
25 Oct 2006