Chelsea Football Club is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Tony Hateley, the centre-forward who scored the goal that took the club to our first Wembley FA Cup final in 1967. He was 72 years old.
Hateley spent just under a season at Chelsea, having been signed in October 1966 by manager Tommy Docherty as a reaction to Peter Osgood having his leg broken earlier that month. Hateley played 33 games and scored nine times before moving on to Liverpool the following summer.
The 6ft 1½ in striker arrived with a reputation as one of England’s most prolific headers of the ball, having scored at a good rate for his first two clubs, Notts County and Aston Villa, and it needed a then Chelsea record fee paid of £100,000 to prise the 25-year-old away from Villa Park.
Hateley, who had been coached in the past by another former Chelsea centre-forward, Tommy Lawton, made his debut in a home win over Tottenham and scored twice in a 3-1 win at Fulham in his second game. The last of his six league goals was in 3-1 win against the side he had left, relegation-bound Villa.
Docherty’s side finished ninth in the First Division that season and it was in the FA Cup that Hateley made his most significant contribution to Chelsea history.
He played every game from Round Four onwards, scoring in a replay against Brighton and a home fifth-round win over Sheffield United. The other Sheffield club, Wednesday, were dispatched in the quarter-finals which set up our third FA Cup semi-final in as many years, all at Villa Park.
At last the heartbreak of defeat in the previous two could begin to be forgotten when Hateley powerfully headed Charlie Cooke’s cross past Leeds goalie Gary Sprake. There was a minute to go to half-time.
Just before the end of the second half, Chelsea survived a big scare when Peter Lorimer fired into our net but the referee had not blown for the free-kick to be taken. The Blues were finally going to play a major cup final under the twin towers, our previous Wembley outings being war-time finals.
However our first FA Cup final since 1915 and the first all-London final ever was a deflating experience, as star players couldn’t find their best form and Tottenham were 2-0 up and comfortable before Bobby Tambling scored a late consolation.
With Osgood able to resume his outstanding Chelsea career at the start of the following season and Hateley’s all-round game not a good fit with the swift pass and move football Docherty had nurtured, it was little surprise when the striker moved on in July 1967. Another club broke its club transfer record to acquire his services, Bill Shankly paying £96,000 to take him to Liverpool and he went on to play for Coventry, Birmingham, Notts County for a second time and Oldham, scoring more than 200 goals over the course of his career.
His son Mark was an opponent of Chelsea when playing for Portsmouth and Queens Park Rangers in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as an England centre-forward.
Chelsea Football Club wishes to send our deepest condolences to Tony’s family and friends.