New Brighton, Cheshire born left half Jim Dougherty began his football career with New Brighton Old Wanderers and Liscard YMCA before joining Lancashire League club New Brighton Tower in 1897, but after a season he joined Chorley and won the Lancashire League Championship with them in 1898-99. He returned to New Brighton Tower, by now in the Second Division, in the summer of 1900 and made his Football League debut against Lincoln City that September, playing 12 times for Tower in 1900-01, but when the club was disbanded in the summer of 1901 he joined First Division Small Heath (now Birmingham City), but only played twice, both matches in January 1902, during their 1901-02 relegation season.
Dougherty was a regular in 1902-03, scoring once as Small Heath secured promotion at the first attempt, finishing runners-up in the Second Division, but initially he again struggled to get a place in the team back in the top flight, making only 10 appearances during the 1903-04 campaign. But he was a regular in their next three seasons when first Small Heath, and then (with name changed from 1906) Birmingham finished in the top half of the First Division in each of the three seasons.
However he lost his place in October 1907 and played only twice more immediately after Christmas as Birmingham were relegated at the end of the season, and Dougherty moved on to newly elected Southern League club Coventry City in the 1908 close season after 3 goals in 136 appearances for Birmingham. He played 17 times for Coventry during their first campaign as a Southern League club during 1908-09, but moved on after a season to join non league Stirchley United, finishing his career at Birmingham & District League club Worcester City having joined them in 1910.