Partick Thistle Aussie inspired by cancer survivor brother

Cairns teenage defender Ethan Docherty says that his biggest motivating factor in playing for Partick Thistle youth side for the past five months has been his younger brother and cancer survivor, Rhian.

Docherty, who turned 18 this week, comes from proper football stock. His father Martin is the former coach of QLD NPL side Far North Queensland Heat and his mother played football as well.

Comfortable on either foot, the 185cm defender describes his main strengths as his work ethic and dedication to the team.

But it’s his devotion to his family and the story of his brother Rhian that spurs him on to the next level of one day making it as a professional footballer.

“The biggest influence of my life would be my brother who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago,” he said.

“He underwent 18 months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery in Brisbane.

“Ever since I play football for him and I always try to remain positive no matter what happens because I know nothing can ever be as bad as what Rhian had to go through.

“Of course my mother, father and sister Shannon are a huge influence on me too.”

The future of Cairns football

Docherty grew up playing for junior side Leichhardt FC, the same club as Quivi Fowler who recently signed with Dutch top-flight club Vittesse Arnhem in Holland.

The move to Partick Thistle came about when Docherty contacted former Perth Glory player Steven McGarry who amassed over 300 Scottish Premier League games playing for top flight clubs St Mirren, Ross County and Motherwell.

“He suggested I create a CV and a highlight video,” Docherty said.

“So with the help of my girlfriend I made one to send to clubs over in Scotland.

“I couldn’t believe it when Steven contacted me to advise me that four clubs were interested in having a look at me – Morton, Motherwell, St Mirren and Partick Thistle.

“I was actually meant to go for a week’s trial at all of the clubs but Partick Thistle asked me after the first week to stay and I am very happy with my decision.”

Ethan also added that the level of training and professionalism in Scotland was a culture shock to what he experienced in the semi-professional environment of Cairns were he last played for the Far North Queensland Heat before he made the move overseas.

“With Partick Thistle being a full time professional club it means they have access to state of the art facilities, technology and coaching, which all benefits us as players thus optimizing our performance,” he said.

“We train four days per week and some days are double sessions which might include gym work. Our sessions can last anywhere between two to three hours at a time.

“We train on astro turf at 10:30am most days on a field that overlooks Hampden Park (Scotland’s national stadium).  Our game day is normally a Tuesday.”

The U20 league that Docherty plays in has 16 teams and includes all the big Scottish youth teams including Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts.

“Normally two to five first team players will play in our team to get match fitness,” he said.

“And sometimes I will train with the main squad through the week when the main coach Alan Archibald is working on his team shape for an upcoming game.

“My coach Scott Alexander is probably the most respected youth coach in Scotland because Thistle pride themselves on having the best youth players.

"The coach is very strict, focused and organised he genuinely looks like he loves his job and the players respect him.”

The amazing inspirational story of Ethan’s brother Rhian was featured on Channel 7 Cairns. Click here to watch.

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.