Everyone at Glentoran Football Club was saddened to hear of the passing yesterday of former player, Matt Doherty. He was 79. We extend our deepest sympathy to Matt’s wife Ann, son Matt, daughter-in-law Oonagh and grandchildren Kiernan and Brandon. You are all in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time.
Matt Doherty’s funeral will leave his home (34 Dunmore Gardens) on Friday morning at 9:20am to St. Mary's Church Creggan for Requiem Mass at 10:00am. Interment afterwards is in The City Cemetery.
Glentoran FC 62-63
Matt Doherty played for both his home town club, Derry City and Glentoran. He’d been in the Derry City team since 1958 but in 1960 Derry City decided to sell him. Matt was given the choice of joining either Glentoran or Glenavon but having always enjoyed the beautiful playing surface at the Oval, Matt opted for Glentoran. The move was agreed for a then record fee of £2000. An inside-right, Doherty made his debut against Ballymena at the Showgrounds where the Glens lost 1-0. His home debut was against Linfield at the Oval but again he was on the wrong side of a 1-0 score line. In his three seasons at the Oval Matt played 111 games and scored 50 goals. The first of those goals came against Distillery on Boxing Day 1960. Glentoran won 7-1 at Grosvenor Park and Matt netted a hattrick. The following day the Glens played Cliftonville at the Oval and he scored twice in a 7-0 win.
Matt’s favourite game in a Glentoran shirt came in the semi-final of the Gold Cup. In an interview for the Glentoran Gazette Matt recalled, “The Glens played Coleraine in a cup semi-final at Windsor Park and we were losing 3-1. We fought our way back to 3-3 and then in the last minute I hit a shot from 25 yards which flew past Vic Hunter and into the top corner of the net to win the game.” Unfortunately Matt missed that 1962 final. “On the way to the game I was involved in a car accident and arrived too late to play so unfortunately I have no medals from my time with Glentoran.”
Matt in 1999 - Glentoran Gazette
Matt re-joined Derry City in 1963, Glentoran recouping the £2000 fee they had paid for him three years earlier. The following year he played in the Derry City team which defeated Glentoran in the Irish Cup final and in the process stopped Glentoran doing the double. The Glens had already won the League in 1964 when they met Derry in the Irish Cup final. City were leading 1-0 and with time running out Glentoran were throwing players forward. The ball was cleared up field and Matt Doherty was left with just Albert Finlay to beat. Fay Coyle arrived in the box looking for a square pass and in doing so distracted Finlay. As the keeper moved anticipating a pass Matt slotted it home to seal the victory. It was a case of history repeating itself. His father, also called Matt, was another former Derry City player and he featured in the 1949 Irish Cup final against Glentoran which Derry won 3-1.
Matt on the right with his Irish Cup medal 1964
Alongside that Irish Cup win, Matt enjoyed a number of successes at Derry City, winning the Gold Cup in 1964 and then followed that up by winning the Irish League title in the 1964-65 season. He played with Derry City until they went out of the Irish League in 1971.
During his time with Glentoran Matt Doherty created a little bit of history by becoming the first Glentoran player to score in a European tie, the goals coming in the ‘La Romareda’ stadium in Zaragoza in 1962. “We lost the first leg at the Oval 2-0 and so we hadn’t much chance of going through to the next round. For many of the players the trip to Spain was the first time we’d been out of Northern Ireland, so it was quite an adventure. When we landed in Zaragoza everything looked very brown and dry so we were amazed when we arrived at the stadium to find lush, green grass. Glentoran actually took the lead in the game in the 10th minute when I scored from Billy Hume’s through ball. I managed to score again 10 minutes from time and could have had a hattrick but Walter Bruce shot into the side netting when I was standing unmarked in the six yard box. We lost that game 6-2.” He also featured for his home town club in Europe, playing against Steaua Bucharest in the Cup Winners Cup and against F.K. Lyn (Norway) and Anderlecht in the European Cup. In the game against Lyn Derry City overturned a first leg 5-3 deficit, winning 5-1 at the Brandywell to become the first Irish League club to make it through to the next round.
Whilst the text above covers Matt’s career there were also a few other nice stories we felt it would be good to share………
Matt’s interview for the Glentoran Gazette was carried out by John Moore. Having spoken to Matt on the phone John travelled to the Brandywell one Saturday evening where Derry City were playing Bohemians. They sat with Fay Coyle in the ‘Glentoran Stand’ and later ended up talking football in Matt’s home in Dunmore Gardens until after midnight. Among the stories shared by Matt was one of him almost getting knocked out after scoring the decisive second goal for Derry against the Glens in the ’64 Irish Cup final. In the celebrations someone thumped him! It turned out to be Fay Coyle who wasn’t happy that Matt hadn’t squared the ball to him but instead had scored himself. Had Coyle scored, he’d have netted in every round of the cup that year! After a cup of tea, Matt wasn’t too hopeful of John finding his way out of the Creggan in the dark and insisted on escorting him to the Craigavon Bridge.
23rd April 2005 – or ‘Morgan Day’ as we still refer to it – and about half an hour before kick-off Matt came through the turnstiles. Surprised to see him, John asked why he’d turned up at the game. “I was listening to the news on the radio and they were talking about the big game. I suppose I could have listened to the commentary or gone shopping with Ann but I just decided to jump in the car and drive down. I’m parked in Dee Street. Is that ok?” “Ok unless the Blues lose!” The post-match events saw us both dodging the missiles and bottles being thrown up from the pitch into the stand. It didn’t seem to bother Matt though. The Glens had won!
Matt Doherty (bottom left) & Billy Neill (top right)
After his playing career ended Matt had to undergo heart surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital. The late Billy Neill organised a rota of players to visit Matt, something the Derry man was very appreciative of.
Billy and his wife Lily also had Matt stay overnight with them one summer. It was around the Twelfth and the Neills had a flag out. Billy thought it was inappropriate and decided to take it down before Matt arrived. It wouldn’t come out of its holder and with Billy tugging at it the pole broke leaving a piece stuck in the holder and the Neills unable to fly a flag again for some time!
Matt Doherty - a great footballer but also a gentleman. Rest in Peace.