Obituary: Tony Hateley, founder of a football dynasty

Tony Hateley: Footballer famed for his aerial prowess as 'the Headmaster'. Picture: PA
Tony Hateley: Footballer famed for his aerial prowess as 'the Headmaster'. Picture: PA
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Born: 13 June, 1941, in Derby. Died: 1 February, 2014, in Preston, aged 72

TONY Hateley was one of those footballers who became known to ­millions of football fans by dint of playing for so many clubs, and ­scoring goals for them all.

Notts County, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Coventry City and Birmingham City were among Hateley’s clubs and at the end of his career he had the distinction of ­having cumulatively earned the most money in transfer fees of any British player, and set club transfer records for both ­Chelsea and Liverpool.

He was also the father of a footballing dynasty that notably spread into Scotland. His son, Mark, was a prolific goalscorer in the Rangers nine-titles-in-a-row team of the early 1990s, scoring at a rate of a goal every two games in 165 matches between 1990 and 1995, while he also scored goals for ­Portsmouth, AC Milan, AS Monaco and Queen’s Park Rangers before ending his career at Ross County in 1999. He was Scotland’s player of the season in 1993-94.

Mark started his career at one of his ­father’s old clubs, Coventry City, and as a ­better all-round player than his father, he was capped 32 times for England while Tony never received international recognition, though he was included in Sir Alf Ramsey’s squad for the 1966 World Cup but had to withdraw through serious injury.

Mark’s son Tom, who was born in ­Monaco, made 148 appearances for Motherwell between 2009 and 2013, but unlike his father and grandfather he featured more in midfield and defence than as a striker, though ironically his first of nine goals for Motherwell was scored against his father’s old club, Rangers.

Tom Hateley is now playing with Slask Wroclaw in Poland’s top league, while Mark is still a familiar figure in Scotland as a newspaper and broadcasting pundit.

Tony Hateley was very proud of the achievements of his son and grandson, with Mark in particular being tall and rangy and a noted header of the ball just like his father. Tony Hateley’s prowess in the air in the 1960s was such that he was called “the ­Headmaster”.

Hateley was born in wartime Derby and was educated at Normanton school where he was a champion athlete. His height as a teenager gave him an advantage on the football field that he put to good use in defence, securing a professional contract with Notts County in 1958.

Manager Tim Coleman converted him from centre-half to centre-forward and Hateley never looked back. A tally of 77 goals in 131 appearances for the Magpies in the lower leagues earned him a £25,000 move to Aston Villa of the then First Division in 1963.

Though his ball-playing skills were limited, manager Joe Mercer adapted the team’s style to suit Hateley. He had an eye for goal and scored 68 goals in 127 games for Villa before two Scottish managers in succession signed the striker.

Chelsea manager Tommy Docherty paid Villa a club record £100,000 for Hateley in October, 1966, but he was not a success among the slick ball-players at Stamford Bridge. Docherty once quipped his passes should be labelled “to whom it may ­concern”.

Liverpool’s legendary manager Bill Shankly saw enough in the player to ­convince him to pay another club record to secure his transfer to Merseyside.

Apparently Shankly called Docherty to ask how much he wanted for Hateley. Doc replied “a hundred thousand wouldn’t buy him,” to which Shanks said “I know, I’m one of them, I just want to know how much.” He ended up paying £96,000, and thought he’d bought a bargain.

Hateley did indeed make his mark for Liverpool early, scoring a hat-trick against Newcastle United in only his third match. He scored 28 goals in his first and only season with the Reds, but it was soon clear that Liverpool’s passing style did not suit Hateley, who was an honest and committed old-fashioned centre-forward who ­preferred aerial jousts.

On being told he was at least “good in the air,” Shankly quipped: “And so was Douglas Bader and he only had one leg.”

Hateley soon moved to Coventry City for a fee of £80,000, and then joined Birmingham, but after several injury problems, in 1970 he returned to the lower leagues with his first club, Notts County. He regained his old scoring form and helped the Magpies win the Fourth Division before his playing career petered out with spells at Oldham Athletic and the Boston Minutemen in the USA.

While playing in non-league football, he subsequently tried his hand in business to no avail before becoming a sales rep with Thwaites Brewery. Always a gentlemanly sort with a friendly personality, in retirement Hateley lived in Penwortham in South Ribble, across the River Ribble from Preston.

Interviewed at home in 2009, Hateley said: “I enjoyed my football and I lived for scoring goals – that was it.

“I can’t explain how I scored as many as I did, when better players than me didn’t.

“I didn’t have as much talent as some, but I had the knack of knocking the goals in, and that’s a different talent.”

His latter years were blighted by Alz­heimer’s disease, a common affliction among players from the era of heavy leather ­footballs.

Hateley was married twice, his first marriage being dissolved. His second wife Yvonne survives him as do his daughter Tina and son Mark.