Donegal man who played for Celtic and Stanley Matthews’s Blackpool

Hugh ‘Dick’ Doherty: May 5th, 1921 - September 29th, 2014

Hugh "Dick" Doherty, who has died aged 93 in his home town of Buncrana, Co Donegal, was believed to be oldest surviving former Glasgow Celtic player. He also played with Blackpool at a time when they were one of the strongest sides in the old English First Division.

His career never flowered as it should have, however, due to bad luck, injury and the outbreak of the second World War.

In the summer of 1939, Celtic’s chief scout was on holiday in Ireland when he saw the teenage Doherty, then with junior club Buncrana Celtic. The scout never actually spoke to Doherty but, a few weeks later, Celtic wrote offering a trial in Glasgow.

Outbreak of war

He went over at the start of September 1939. The trial went well but on the day he was to sign terms Britain entered the war.


For safety, Doherty returned to Buncrana to work with his father. In the wartime years he played for Derry City, Derry Rangers, and Dundalk.

When hostilities ceased he got another opportunity. Several Celtic players were on holidays in Donegal and he played with them in an exhibition match.

As a result of his performances, Celtic signed him for the 1946-7 season. He played three games in the old Scottish First Division, and one in the Scottish cup.

At the end of the season the Glasgow club let him go but Blackpool snapped him up.

Doherty played outside right and was unfortunate in that Blackpool's regular outside right was one Stanley Matthews, then viewed as one of the best footballers in the world. Doherty usually only got to play a game when Matthews was unavailable.

During one of those games, he injured his knee. Blackpool let him go. After a period of recovery, he signed with Raith Rovers in the Scottish League. In his first game, the knee gave up, forcing a return to Buncrana.

Hugh Doherty was born in Buncrana in 1921, the elder of two sons to John Doherty, a butcher, farmer, and greyhound trainer, and his wife Madge (née McLaughlin). The family was traditionally nicknamed the “Dick” Dohertys.

He received his education in the town’s national school and then at St Columb’s College, Derry, before going to work with his father.

After leaving Raith Rovers, Doherty resumed working for his father – and working to develop football in Inishowen. When he died, he was assistant treasurer of the Inishowen Football League.

Hugh “Dick” Doherty is survived by his daughter, Deirdre, and sons Denis and Eamonn. He was predeceased by his wife, Eithne, daughter Ann-Marie, and son Anthony.