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Interviews

"I was over the moon to sign because it was a case where somebody believed in me"

Peter Hatch discusses some of his first, best and worst moments in a City shirt

18 April 2018

Peter Hatch played for Exeter City between 1973-1982 and became a fan favourite at St James Park.

A newly inductee to the Exeter City Football Club Hall of Fame, Hatch was a member of the famous FA Cup side that beat Newcastle United 4-0, and was one of the players on the scoresheet! Beginning his career with Oxford United, Hatch left for Devon in 1973 after being persuaded to sign by former City boss, John Newman. The opportunity to play regular first team football saw to it that Hatch would sign a deal with the Grecians as he arrived on the same day as Keith Bowker. The former defender, who went on to make over 340 appearances for City, sat down with Ben Strange to discuss some of his first, best and worst moments.

First...

...day at Exeter City

I travelled down in mid-week from Oxford and I met John Newman, who was the manager at the time. Obviously, we had some discussions and sorted out what we needed to sort out on the day and it was just a case of coming back to start training later in the week. I got on very well with him and I was over the moon to sign because it was a case where somebody believed in me. That meant a lot.

...match for the club

Well, my debut came away from home at Workington and I’d never been so cold in my life! It was quite the eye opener because, Oxford United at the time were in the old Third Division, and from what I’d become accustomed to there and what I had to get accustomed to here with City was two different things. I’d been used to playing reserve team football with Oxford but moving down here meant there was an opportunity to play first team football and it meant so much to me. It was a privilege to play in the first team.

...memories of the City fans

Yes, there’s always one or two negative voices in the crowd which you’re always going to get. I think I did enough to win the fans over fairly early on, playing at left back and getting up the line, getting back again as well as a long throw. I don’t think they’d been accustomed to that before. I gave 100 per cent and if you’ve got a player like that then the supporters are going to be there for you.

Best...

...friend at the club

Keith Bowker and I signed on the same day and we were in digs together at the old Windsor Hotel down by the station. Luckily, he had a car because I didn’t and we got on well from the start.

...performance in a City shirt

It has to be the Newcastle United replay in the FA Cup (a 4-0 win for City.) I like to think that I was consistent over the years, but that game went up another notch. It was a great opportunity having got a result at the other St James Park in Newcastle, and to get them down here with a full house and an extension of the ground so we could get more people in. To me, that has to be my finest hour.

...piece of advice given to you

I don’t think so. I like to think that, as a player, I was whole hearted and whatever I was doing was good enough for whoever was watching. It was a case of coming in, knuckling down, and getting on with it. And if it was good enough then it was good enough, but if it wasn’t then somebody would stick a boot up your backside!

Worst...

...rollicking in the dressing room

The worst, as far as I’m concerned, was when we played away at Chesterfield and we lost. After the defeat, I was asked to go and see the manager at the Cat and Fiddle on the Sunday and I knew that this was the be all and end all. That’s when they released me at the age of 32, which was no age to be released. It hit hard because my heart and soul was in the club but suddenly it was taken away.

...defeat you’ve been involved in

I remember we played at Lincoln City when Graham Taylor was the manager. I don’t recall scoring too many own goals, but in this game they had a corner and I got up and it hit me on the side of the head and flew in the top corner. We lost four or five nil. Outside of that I don’t recall too many bad games. As a defence, you’re one line and if somebody makes a mistake then everyone carries the can.

...away trip

When I came along changing rooms were starting to improve and were upgraded. The one in the old grandstand was never the best in the world, but the worst ones where you’d have to scrap to get in the bath afterwards because things were so tight. Then again, I bet lots of opposing players have said the same about this place! I haven’t seen the new changing rooms here yet, but I look forward to it. I tried not to focus on the facilities, I just looked forward to the games. It didn’t matter where we were going.

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