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Edric Thornton "Ted" Bates MBE (3 May 1918 – 28 November 2003) was a former Southampton F.C. player, manager, director and president which earned him the sobriquet Mr. Southampton.

Playing career

Bates was born in Thetfordmarker and joined Saints on his 19th birthday in 1937, transferring from Norwich City. He soon forced his way into the first team as a centre forward. His career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which league football was suspended in England. He initially joined the War Reserve police force, spending his time on guard duty at the Shell-Mex oil depot at Hamblemarker or the Pirelli-General cable works at Woolstonmarker. In the early part of the war, Bates still managed regular appearances for Saints in the wartime cups and leagues.

On 8 June 1940, Bates married Mary Smith at St. James's Church in Shirleymarker, and that evening watched Saints play Charlton Athletic at The Dellmarker. Shortly afterwards the Bates' home was bombed and they moved to West Wellowmarker, where Mary found work with the NAAFI. Bates resigned from the War Reserve and went to work at the Folland Aircraft factory at Hamble, who also had a very good works football team which, as well as Bates, included other professional players such as Bill Dodgin (Southampton), Harold Pond (Carlisle United), Bert Tann (Charlton), Dick Foss (Chelsea), Bill Bushby, Cliff Parker and Bill Rochford (all Portsmouth). Most of these players also guested for Saints in the War leagues.

Bates' finest playing days came between 1947 and 1951 when he formed a great partnership with Charlie Wayman.

After some declining performances on the pitch, Bates made his last first team appearance on 20 December 1952 at home to West Ham United. During his career he made 216 appearances, scoring 64 times.

Management

After retiring from playing he became a coach at Southampton in May 1953. He was soon offered the manager's job, taking over from George Roughton in September 1955. 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 (still a record).

After a few years in the 2nd Division, Saints were promoted to the First Division in 1966. Almost 15,000 Saints fans packed out Leyton Orient's ground as Terry Paine headed the goal that meant top flight football. Saints consolidated their place in the first division with young talent like Mick Channon and Ron Davies. In this period Saints qualified for European football twice - in 1969 and 1971.

Bates decided to step down as manager in December 1973 and was replaced by Lawrie McMenemy. Bates acted as McMenemy's assistant for the next few years, which included the highlight of Southampton's history - an FA Cup win in 1976. Bates was the first person to congratulate McMenemy and the players as the final whistle was blown at Wembleymarker.

Honours

Bates then joined Saints board, where he would serve as a director for another 20 years before being appointed the club's president. He was honoured with the MBE in 1998 for services to football and received the freedom of the city of Southamptonmarker in the same year.

Death

Bates was widely regarded as a local hero for his dedication to the club over a period of 66 years, and his death in November 2003 was widely commemorated by the club and supporters' community.

The first game after his death was the home match against Portsmouth in the League Cup and was the first derby between the two local rivals since an FA Cup match at The Dellmarker in 1996. A minute's silence in Bates' memory barely lasted 30 seconds after jeers and boos from fans in the away end. Those who booed and jeered were widely criticised by the media and by fellow Portsmouth fans.

Ted Bates Trophy

In 2003 the Ted Bates Trophy was innuagerated with a match against Bayern Munich. It is an annual friendly match held in Ted's honour by the club he served so well, Southampton FC.

Statue Controversy

A statue of Saints' greatest ever servant was unveiled outside the main entrance to St Mary's Stadiummarker on 17 March 2007. The statue cost approximately £112,000 half of which was raised by fans via the Ted Bates Trust and the other half met by Southampton Football Club.

The statue was widely criticised by supporters just hours after its uncovering, for not being in proportion or even resembling Ted Bates, so the club pledged to organise a replacement. The replacement statue was unveiled on Saturday 22 March 2008.

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