The former Celtic and Preston player was at the helm at the start of the qualification campaign, which began with home and away wins over Denmark, but found the lure of Manchester United too strong to resist.
When he left for Old Trafford in 1972 he was replaced by Willie Ormond, who guided the Scots to their first World Cup finals since 1958.
Docherty, 85, was speaking at Hampden on Monday night, 24 hours after being inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, and he recalled his time as national team boss.
"I enjoyed it very much," said the man who won 25 caps for Scotland.
"I took the job at a time when things weren't too good so they could only get better.
"A rebuilding job had just started and we had some great players. But in hindsight, which is a great thing, I shouldn't have left. I should have stayed.
"We had only to beat Czechoslovakia and, if we had beat them, that was us there at the World Cup. It is very much a big regret.
"But there was the pull of Manchester United and Matt Busby, who I didn't know a lot about at the time. I knew he was a great man, which he was, of course.
"But what I did miss was the day-to-day activities with a football club. There wasn't a lot of international games then."
Docherty, who managed 13 different clubs during a colourful career, was joined in the Hall of Fame by Martin Buchan, Alan Rough, Bobby Walker, Scot Symon and Eddie Gray.
He said: "I was shocked, delighted, over the moon, all those things.
"It was better than any of my caps, just fantastic.
"When you see the array of people inducted, it is unbelievable. You don't get a higher honour."