Speak for yourself, when people say 2003 Worlds to me I think Mark Williams first, then Doherty.
I first saw Doherty when he reached the final of the Grand Prix against Jimmy White. I'd never heard of him, I was a big Jimmy fan and assumed he'd walk the final against this newbie no one had heard of. By the end of the match I knew he was a serious player.
In a world team event once he carried Ireland to the final against Scotland. I think Scotland were Hendry, Higgins and McManus and Ireland were Doherty and a couple of others I can't remember. In one important frame Doherty was 60 odd behind with just enough balls left on the table. He made the clearance under big pressure, and to anyone who would listen I tipped him to win the World title that year and sure enough he became the player to show the rest that Hendry was actually beatable at the Crucible.
In the late 90's / early 2000s you had the big four of Hendry, O'Sullivan, Higgins and Williams. Below them you had 4 others in Doherty, Ebdon, Stevens and Hunter. Doherty was the best of that bunch for me, not quite at the level of the big four but the best of the rest. He wasn't scared of the big four, he always stood up to them and gave them a game. He always produced his best form in the big matches, more likely to fall to a rank outsider than a big name. The big 4 knew that they had to be on their game to beat Doherty.
Doherty's game was based around scoring match play. He could make the centuries and get on a roll where he didn't miss for several frames at a time, he had huge bottle and he had a great tactical game. Much like Selby today, he was always at his most dangerous when allowed to put a spurt on coming from behind by a player perhaps showing signs of wobbling near the winning post.
He won 1 world title and finished runner-up twice, the same as Peter Ebdon which is a fair reflection on his standing in the game I'd say. The big surprise for me is how quickly he dropped out of the top 16 and started struggling for results, he seemed like the sort of player who was so solid his decline would be gradual like Steve Davis for example.
Overall a great player, however one I could never fully get behind and support because he lacked whatever factor it is to make me want him to win. I think part of it was his win at all costs mentality, taking luck as if he deserved to get it ("The luck of the Irish") and feeling hard done by if his opponent got some against him, pretty similar to John Parrott in that regard.
In 2003 he produced a series of comebacks, and one occasion when he lead Higgins 8-0 had to withstand a comeback himself. The semi-final was unfortunately a massive bottle job from Paul Hunter who blew a 15-9 lead. I remember people getting excited at Doherty making a match of it, but it was a case of Hunter throwing it away and Doherty gaining confidence from it. Thankfully Williams showed his class in the final by putting together two great frames from 16-16 after Doherty had completed a comeback otherwise he'd only have 1 and Doherty 2 world titles. And that would definitely have been wrong!