Inside left Ted Bates was born in Thetford and joined Second Division Southampton on his 19th birthday in May 1937, transferring from Norwich City where he’d been on the books in 1936-37 without making their first eleven, signed by Norwich having played junior football for Thetford Town. He made his Football League debut at Swansea Town in December 1937 and soon forced his way into The Saints’ first team as a centre forward. Having made 31 appearances for Southampton, his career was interrupted by outbreak of the the Second World War in September 1939, during which League football was suspended in England. Bates still managed regular appearances for The Saints in the wartime cups and leagues.
Bates returned to peacetime football playing 4 ties for Southampton in the 1946 FA Cup and then played in the first six post-war seasons, helping Southampton to twice finish third and once fourth in the Second Division between 1947-48 and 1949-50, albeit promotion eluded them. Bates’ finest playing days came between 1947 and 1951 when he formed a great partnership with Charlie Wayman at The Dell. Bates made his last first team appearance on 20th December 1952 at home to West Ham United. During his career he made 217 appearances, scoring 66 times.
After retiring from playing he became a coach at Southampton in May 1953, advancing to manager in September 1955, taking over from George Roughton. Southampton were in the (then regional) Third Division (South) when he took over as manager. They were promoted to the Second Division in 1959 when they won the Third Division (South) Championship with Derek Reeves scoring 39 League goals, a club record. Southampton were promoted to the First Division in 1966.
Under his management, the team maintained their First Division status, developing young players such as Mick Channon and Ron Davies, and qualifying for European football 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 Southampton’s historic FA Cup victory over Manchester United in 1976. Bates was the first person to congratulate McMenemy and the players as the final whistle was blown at Wembley. He was manager for 18 years, a record for the club. There is now a statue to Ted Bates’ honour at St Mary’s Stadium.
Bates was the son of Eddie Bates, who played cricket for Yorkshire and Glamorgan from 1907 to 1931 and League football for Bolton Wanderers and Leeds City between 1906 and 1908.