Date: 26th January 2013 at 3:00pm
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Edric Thornton ‘Ted’ Bates MBE was born 3 May 1918 in Thetford. He is a former Southampton F.C. player who stayed with the club for 66 years.

After finishing as a player Ted became a member of the coaching staff, manager, then director and finally president which earned him the well deserved title ‘Mr. Southampton’.

Ted joined Southampton on his 19th birthday in 1937 from Norwich City. He soon became a regular in the first team and played as an inside forward. His finest playing days came between 1947 and 1951 when he formed a great partnership with Charlie Wayman.

His career was interrupted by the second world war though he still managed to play 216 games scoring 64 goals. When he retired from the game in 1953 he stayed with Saints being offered a job as a member of the coaching staff.

Two years later Southampton offered him the manager’s job in September 1955. He accepted the job taking over from George Roughton and the rest is history.

When offered the job he was set the task of getting Saints out of the (then regional) Third Division South and into the national Second Division. He achieved this in 1959 when Saints finished as Champions with Derek Reeves hitting an amazing 39 league goals which is still a Southampton record.

Southampton stayed in the old Second Division until they won promotion on May 9th 1966 at Leyton Orient. Leyton needed a point to stay up and Saints needed a point to win promotion. A goal apiece before half time had both sets of supporters waiting nervously for the final whistle.

As the half went by both sets of fans began to celebrate as it seemed certain that the perfect result was going to be gained and at the end the 15,00 Saints fans rejoiced alongside the Leyton fans having seen a Terry Paine goal seal the point for promotion.

During his tenure Ted launched such talent as Terry Paine who shone for years on the Southampton right wing. He also gave a break to another outstanding, home-grown attacker, one Mick Channon.

Before Mick, Martin Chivers was also brought through to the first team. Ron Davies was bought by Ted for the sum of £55,000, which Ted always said was his number one purchase for the club. All four became Internationals with Davies playing for Wales while Paine, Chivers and Channon played for England.

Ted led Saints into European competition for the first time in their history managing the feat twice. The first time in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup saw Saints lose to Newcastle on away goals after two draws in 1969/70.

1971/72 saw Saints again qualify for the Fairs Cup, but this time Athletic Bilbao pipped Saints on goal difference winning 2-0 at home and only losing away 2-1, in the first round.

Ted Bates stepped down as manager in December 1973, and handed the reins to Lawrie McMenemy. He did stay as Chief Executive though he worked as Lawrie’s assistant to help the new man settle into the role.

Acting as assistant, Ted helped Lawrie win the biggest prize that the club had ever won. May 1976 saw underdogs Division Two Southampton beat hot favourites Manchester United 1-0 with a goal from the late Bobby Stokes.

The next move for Ted was to be made a director in 1978, vice president in 1993 and president in 1998. In 2001, he was awarded the MBE, and received the freedom of the city of Southampton.

All in all he spent a total of 66 years at the club. Ted ‘Mr Southampton’ Bates was known for always having a ready smile and his love for the club.

Mick Channon summed Ted Bates up by saying,”He was a man of few words. Often he pretended he hadn’t heard what you’d said but when he spoke you listened. We called him Mr Indestructible because he hated losing.

‘Sometimes when we were really up against it, he’d play a 1-9-1 formation with me the one up the pitch.We’d win 1-0 and he’d clench his fist and cry ‘indestructible!

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4 Replies to “Vital Saints Remembers – ‘Legend’ Ted Bates”

  • I am to young to have seen him but in truth he is and always will be remembered as Mr Southampton. Thankfully his statue now resembles him.

  • My first ever game for Saints was on my 6th birthday. 10th sept 1952 and sadly we lost 2-3 to Rotherham. Though I can’t remember whether he ever played when I was taken to a game that season i remember how well he did as manager. He was and still is loved by the older brigade of our fans.

  • There won’t be many of us that saw him play but he earned the respect in every step he took with the club.

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