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History

💯 City Centurions: Peter Hatch

We profile a true fan favourite

22 June 2021

Can history repeat itself? Of course, as time moves on and technology advances every new day looks less and less like its predecessor but every now and again, there’s a moment of complete déjà vu where people sit up and notice something that they think they’ve seen before.

As the pure elation after Lee Holmes scored against Liverpool in 2016 died down, some Grecians sat down and had that exact thought in the back of their mind, the striking feeling that they’ve seen that goal before. A player, scoring directly from that same corner in front of the away end at St James Park in an FA Cup match against one of England’s top teams.

They weren’t wrong.

Peter Derek Hatch was in his eighth season at Exeter City when the club found themselves as one of the last 16 teams in the 1981 FA Cup and, drawn Newcastle United and held them to a 1-1 draw up north, a replay at the real St James Park had beckoned one of the best moments in Peter’s career.

In the exact same spot as Holmes would score from 35 years later, Peter’s first half corner looped over the Newcastle ‘keeper and opened the scoring for a City side who would go on to tear the Geordies apart, thrashing them 4-0.

An adaptable player who can play on the wing or in defence, Peter was already a fan’s favourite at SJP long before that goal having barley missed a game since joining in 1973. Despite being 24 upon signing for the club, Peter had only made 19 senior appearances before arriving in Devon but still Johnny Newman saw what other managers couldn’t and instantly made him a key cog in City’s side.

City won promotion for the second time in the club’s history in 1977 with Peter running rings around fourth tier defences all season and winning the Grecians’ player of the season award.

After 346 appearances and 18 goals, Peter unexpectedly left Exeter City in 1982 to join Maltese side Hamrun Spartans, where he helped them to their first league title in 36 years.

Even though he now had the chance to play in the European Cup, Peter chose to return to Devon after just one season in the Mediterranean. While his stay at Hamrun was short-lived, the midfielder was well-loved by the Spartans fans, and his picture still hangs in the clubhouse.

Peter played for many local non-league sides when he came back to the UK before playing one more time for City in 1986 (unofficially), as his services to the club over nine years were rewarded with a testimonial against Oxford.


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