Over all of the years that Notts County have pursued a successful youth policy they have not discovered any gems who have shone more brightly than Tony Hateley whose death at the age of 72 is being mourned across the football world, writes Colin Slater.
It’s poignant to recall the season 1962-63 when Hateley headed Notts’ list of scorers with 22 goals in 32 appearances and in second place, with 16 goals in 44 outings, was another local boy, the late Jeff Astle, who also went on to play at the highest level.
Poignant, too, to reflect that when they had been sold by Notts to West Midlands clubs, and were figuring on the bigger stage, both appeared in FA Cup finals in successive years.
Hateley was in the Chelsea team beaten by Spurs in 1967 and, 12 months later, Astle was not only in the West Bromwich Albion line-up but scored the only goal of the tie, three minutes into extra time, to beat Everton.
Some of us had known for quite some time that Tony was in seriously failing health and that we would never again enjoy his company at Meadow Lane.
It makes all the more precious the memory of a night when he was on stage here alongside two other notable Notts scorers, Les Bradd and Gary Lund, to answer fans’ questions. That was poignant, too, because Les is the all-time record scorer for the club with 125 League goals and Tony is in second spot with 109. Will either ever be overtaken?
In his two spells with Notts Hateley completed six hat-tricks the first of which, against Barnsley, in September 1960, included what, for me, was the finest of all those 109 goals. He powered a 25-yard header past the Barnsley goalkeeper who did not see it until the ball was bulging the net and the crowd were on their feet.
He had been top scorer in three successive campaigns before new Notts manager Eddie Lowe agreed to sell him to Aston Villa for £25,000 in August, 1962. Apart from Chelsea, Hateley also played for Liverpool and Coventry and then it was from Birmingham City that Jimmy Sirrel brought him back “home” in November, 1970 to spearhead the promotion drive from the Fourth Division.
Of course, Hateley did not disappoint with 22 goals in 29 League outings, including the last of those six hat-tricks, in the 4-0 rout of Colchester in April, 1971. It was somehow fitting that in the final game, with the championship already achieved, it was Hateley who got the goal in a 1-1 draw with Exeter City.
Yet the statistics do not do justice to Tony Hateley. They do not tell what an exciting presence he was on the field – fearless, brilliant in the air (hence the comparison with Lawton) and never giving less than his best.
Quite simply, a winner
Tony Hateley's funeral will take place on Tuesday 11th February at 11 am at St Mary's Church, Penworthem, near Preston.
We also record with regret the death of Len Chalmers, a full back with Notts between 1966 and 1968.
In that time he made 54 League and Cup appearances, launched with his debut at Bradford Park Avenue in August, 1966.
Most of his appearances (35) came in that first season when his vast experience was recognised by his appointment as captain.
Len was a losing finalist with Leicester City in the FA Cup against Spurs in 1961.
In this he was carried off as early as the 18th minute but returned, though injured, to play on the wing.
This typically gallant effort could not prevent Spurs memorably completing their historic League and Cup double.
But it did give Len a special place in the story of Wembley finals.