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Our Lump In The Throat Tribute To Gary Doherty On His Retirement

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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The flags should be flying at half-mast today. This is like that scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral when your man reads out the WH Auden poem at the funeral. Gary Doherty retired from football today at the absurdly (and surprisingly) young age of 34.

In the same way, Michael Owen never seemed to age throughout his career (in the sense that people didn't see him as anything other than a youthful slip of a striker), Gary Doherty arrived to the game as a fully-formed experienced striker in his early 30's, regardless of what age he actually was.

Here is our tribute to a true cult hero of Irish football.

 He scored four goals for Ireland. All with his head

Doherty was the top scorer in Ireland's Euro 2004 qualifying campaign. As someone here pointed out, this is quite apt given that Greece went on to win that competition.

He got his first Ireland goal in a pre-World Cup friendly on a sopping wet pitch against the USA in 2002


He sent a bullet of a header past the Russian keeper in the Euro 2004 campaign opener in Moscow. Ireland went on to lose 4-2. Poor Phil Babb.

His finest hour. Not even flying pen knives could distract him from the task in hand in Georgia. A crucial winner late in the game in Brian Kerr's first competitive match.


No moving footage of his fourth and final goal for Ireland currently resides on the internet. But here is this Sportsfile photo of him in the process of scoring. It was the opener in a 2-0 home win over the Georgians in 2003.



He was evidently too much of a ballplayer for Giovanni Trappatoni 

As with Andy Reid and Wes Hoolahan, Trap left him out in the cold for the duration of his tenure. No sooner way to ensure someone's reputation goes through the roof.


In a fit of faux sophisticated snobbishness, we left him out of the Wes Hoolahan Hall of Fame. I feel nothing but regret for that now.



He had lightening quick reactions

He turned in this goal in the 2001 FA Cup semi-final. Anyone who says he didn't mean would want to take a long hard look at themselves. He clearly re-directed this brilliantly.

He inspired a rather catchy pop song

Norfolk band 'We Can't Dance' were so offended by the snooty and sneering coverage Doherty received from the press, that they issued this retort in song. 'I don't care what they say about you anyway.' Amen.


Mr. Versatility


He never razed players with his pace down the wing, he never got to the by-line and pinged balls in. He never operated in the hole like some self-indulgent, cocky, trickster. He never sat in the artistically respectable role in the centre midfield stroking feathery passes out to his wingers.

But he played both centre back and centre forward. Could do a job in both spots. Invaluable.


He toiled in many of the unglamorous spots in the English Football League

The first many of us heard of him was when RTE used to point out that he had scored yet another goal for Luton Town on their 5.30 Saturday round-up.

A hero among the Norwich faithful, he won the team's player of the year award in 2005-06.

After a brief spell at Charlton, he moved to Wycombe Wanderers where he was made captain in the summer of 2012.

And he has to be the least likely Spurs player of all time. He scored at all old 'Dalyer' in a 2003 friendly against Bohemians


He made people smile at training

Few were as prolific as him in that regard.






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