A former professional footballer has come out of retirement to play for his local club – at the age of 69.
Plucky Ben Docherty took to the field for Holt FC in Wiltshire despite having a replacement HIP.
He signed his first pro contract 50 years ago and played for Notts County at the peak of his career in the 1960s.
The grandfather-of-one hasn’t played a competitive game for ten years but regularly watches Holt, his local side, and persuaded manager Stuart Faint to give him a try.
He helped the club to a 5-0 victory over local rivals The Stiffs FC last Saturday (12/03) and became the oldest ever player in the history of the Trowbridge & District League.
Grandfather-of-one Ben said: ”The last time I played was about 52 but I enjoyed it and thought it went okay.
”We were 3-0 up by half-time and I helped to set up a few of the goals. My hip wasn’t feeling too bad afterwards and that’s good because I was told the replacement was only suppose to last 10 years.
”After the game we all went for a pint and a couple of the players from the other team came to shake my hand which I thought was nice.
”I don’t know anyone else who’s still playing who’s as old.”
Ben played for Celtic as a boy and signed his first contract 50 years ago for Scottish side Cowdenbeath.
The father-of-three played a League Cup tie for Notts against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 1963 and was close friends with England and West Brom legend Jeff Astle.
He later played in Australia and Croatia and is now a regular on the sidelines at Holt’s home and away matches and has signed on as a member of the squad.
His wife Patricia was not keen on him risking his joints by playing but still attended his big comeback.
Ben said: ”She doesn’t really like football and was worried about my hip replacement, but she came to cheer me on which was nice.
”I still keep myself pretty fit and still work, doing a bit of gardening and some patios, things like that.”
His career is all the more surprising given he suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury aged 20 but continued as a semi-pro until he was 38.
The idea of his latest debut came as a result of Holt’s previous Sunday league games when they struggled to attract players and Ben offered to help out.
Manager Mr Faint said his side had to pay an extra £12 insurance premium to make the new signing because their current cover only covers players up to the age of 55.
He said: ”We used to play on Sundays and had trouble getting people on a Sunday morning meaning we played with 10 men a lot of the time.
”Ben came to watch us and said he’d stand in if we ever needed another player. I took it with a pinch of salt at the time but he was serious.”
Holt won the game 5-0 with Stiffs player-manager Adrian Giles lasting only 20 minutes after twisting his knee while tackling Mr Docherty.
Mr Giles said: ”I was a bit wary about tackling him but you could still see that he had that footballing brain and he was hard to get off the ball.
”We’ve got quite a few players that are proud to still be playing at 50 and I think there was a lot of respect for him.”