“He wished us all the best, he is convinced of the path we’re on and I think that’s why he was pretty gutted with the whole thing,” Docherty told RSN on Thursday.
“He is convinced this group is on the right track and obviously not being able to see out the rest of the year and to where he thought this footy club was going was pretty hard on him and he thanked us and we thanked him.
“Obviously pretty sombre mood and if you were at the club on Monday it feels like a bit of a funeral – that’s the gut feel. Everyone’s lost for what’s going on and [it’s] a bit of an emotional day, everyone takes it differently, it’s a shock to the system.
“Trying to turn the narrative of the group and the emotional state of the group is always pretty taxing and I was pretty close with ‘Bolts’ personally so the decision itself was pretty tough anyway regardless of my responsibility at the club.
“I completely understand what happened at the footy club and why the decision was made but it doesn’t take away from the human element of someone’s just lost their job and they have a family and kids at home and that’s the tough part about footy … it’s just given everyone a bit of a stark reminder about what performance we need to put in to stop us from doing these sorts of things.”
Docherty insisted he didn’t sense that Bolton’s job was in jeopardy on Sunday night despite Carlton only managing four goals against Essendon but he felt something was afoot when he arrived at Princes Park on Monday and gave an in-depth account of how abnormal the day was for the club.
“The fact that we were told not to comment to the guys outside, the media, that very rarely ever gets told to us so from an element of this is my third coach that’s been sacked it came as a bit of a familiar feeling walking into the club,” Docherty said.
“It comes with a bit of an emptiness. Everyone walks in not knowing really what’s going on. For a footy club that’s very organised and structured, ‘This is what’s happening’, there was a lot of unknown.
“There was a meeting called during the morning – why would you have a full staff meeting at one o’clock on a Monday? Everyone starts talking. What’s going on? And then everyone’s really quiet, no one’s talking. The media department’s not really talking, they don’t really know. The CEO [office], no one’s in there.”
Docherty, who has been sidelined since 2017 due to consecutive knee reconstructions, admitted he felt a mixture of guilt, devastation and determination regarding the plight Carlton find themselves in and the fact they’ve sacked yet another coach during a season.
“If I was out there, would that make any difference at all? I don’t know but there’s a level of that’s what’s crossed my mind over the last three or four days since it’s happened … would we still have ‘Bolts’ as coach?” he said.
Docherty said each player was entitled to take as long as they needed to “grieve” Bolton’s sacking but he acknowledged the reality of footy demanded his team quickly refocus because they have to play the Brisbane Lions in a couple of days’ time and he was hoping that caretaker coach David Teague would be a “breath of fresh air” that the Blues need.
Docherty was also convinced that despite sitting two games clear on the bottom of the ladder with just one win for the year, Carlton are in a better place now than when they were at “rock bottom” four years ago.
“I see a group that can take us forward and that excites me as a leader knowing I’m part of that group,” he said.
Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.