Chelsea just couldn’t afford to play new Dundee United signing Jim

Jim Docherty.
Jim Docherty.

Gordon Johnstone asked for BwB to settle an argument.

He said: “I say that Dundee United signed two strikers from Chelsea in the late 1970s and early 80s.

“One was Eamonn Bannon, but I can’t remember the other.

“My mate Bobby Hughes says the only other players to possibly sign for United from Chelsea were Ian Britton and Derek Johnstone – and that they didn’t last long at Tannadice.

“Can you identify this other player I’m thinking about?”

I think the answer is contained in a cutting I found in our files.

In 1979, both Dundee United and Dundee were chasing the signature of an English team’s striker.

There was even competition from abroad for his signature.

However, it was United who prevailed.

This cutting from October 19, 1979, revealed:

Dundee United yesterday signed Chelsea and former East Stirling striker Jim Docherty on a free transfer, less than a year after Aberdeen were quoted £80,000 for his services.

The deal was completed at Tannadice yesterday when the player, accompanied by his dad, met Jim McLean, who was on his first day back at the ground after being with the Scotland squad at Seamill.

Still only 22, Docherty was transferred from East Stirling to Chelsea in March for a fee of £50,000, which would have increased had he played a certain number of first-team games for the London club.

He played just three games and was more of less told by manager Danny Blanchflower, the man who signed him, that Chelsea could not afford to play him!

Before moving south, where he shared digs with former Hearts star Eamonn Bannon, Docherty made a considerable name for himself in a 14-month stay with East Stirling, which saw him score 32 goals.

He owes his free transfer and his arrival at Tannadice to the recent changes at Stamford Bridge – which have seen the waygoing of Blanchflower as manager and the appointment of former England leader Geoff Hurst in his place.

Docherty was placed on the transfer list along with seven other players and eventually told that, if he could find a club for himself in Scotland or elsewhere, he would be allowed to go. Several other clubs, including Dundee and the Danish side Copenhagen Boldklub, were interested, but it was United who persuaded him to join them.

United’s latest signing comes to Tannadice as a full-timer and is in the pool for the Dundee game at Dens Park tomorrow.

Unfortunately, Broxburn-born Docherty played just a couple of games for United before moving to Hearts. He also didn’t get much game time at Tynecastle before leaving for St Johnstone, playing around 50 games over two years with Saints.

He also had spells at Dunfermline, Partick Thistle and on loan at Meadowbank Thistle.

The fee Chelsea paid to East Stirling for Docherty is still a club record for the Scottish club.