MARK Hateley felt the city of Coventry was “barrier breaking” during his time with the Sky Blues in the 70’s and 80’s ahead of the release of his new autobiography ‘Mark Hateley Hitting The Mark’.
Hateley turned 60 earlier this month and enjoyed a distinguished playing career with the likes of AC Milan, Monaco and Rangers – having begun his professional career with the Sky Blues back in 1978.
‘Hitting The Mark’ details Hateley’s career from start to finish and includes his experience of being rejected by Nottingham Forest’s legendary manager Brian Clough before joining up with Coventry to begin his footballing career.
And Hateley enjoyed his time with the Sky Blues in an era when the club was chaired by Jimmy Hill and the city welcomed different cultures.
Hateley said: “I loved being at Coventry in that era – there was all the ska and selecta music – it was barrier breaking.
“Trying to knock down the barriers that we’re still facing today – Coventry was an all-inclusive place which I really enjoyed.
“As a young lad it’s difficult to take on things like that but that’s what I wanted to do – you need to learn and understand everything that is going on in the city that you’re playing in.
“Back then – as a Coventry City team – it was an all-inclusive club.”
The former England international was given his chance in the City first-team by then manager Gordon Milne and Hateley cites Milne as his biggest influence – amongst many – during his time with the club.
Hateley added: “Gordon Milne [was the biggest influence during my time with the club] he gave me the chance – Ron Wylie as well, he was assistant first team coach.
“Without those two seeing the potential in me – that really gave me a boost – especially, coming off the Nottingham Forest experience of Brian Clough telling me I’d never be a footballer.
“I thought it was really important in my development to be at a club like Coventry – it was a place of great learning.”
And Hateley is grateful to the Sky Blues for giving him the platform to play in the First Division in a young side that helped shape his future career.
He said: “The youth period [would be my fondest memory] – I had a really good understanding and friendship with Tom English – that was a real purple patch and platform.
“Tom got a leg up a little bit quicker than me – I had Mick Ferguson and Garry Thompson in front of me – we scored a lot of goals together under John Sillett.
“Working with Jimmy Hill and Joe Mercer – Jimmy was a visionary – it really opened me up to the game of football and off-the-field as well, it was a great experience.
“Coventry gave me a great platform – Dave Sexton, Gordon Milne and Ron Wylie – we had a lot of really good young players it was just unfortunate that we were split up pretty quickly.”
Hateley enjoyed the process of going down memory lane and felt the time was right to release ‘Hitting The Mark’ having reached the age of 60.
Hateley attests: “I always said I had one book left in me – Alistair Aird, the writer, is nicknamed ‘Sherlock’, he’s found so much information about my school days and the local areas where I lived.
“When you’ve been on a massive journey in your footballing career – this book has completely reopened another stream of memories.
“There’s a lot of memories that I thought were long gone and forgotten but they have been refound and restimulated.
“I can’t wait to meet up with people for the signing sessions at Coventry and Portsmouth – it’s going to be amazing to meet people from 40 years ago who were at the start of it all.”
The book details Hateley’s career both on and off the pitch – from scoring on his first England start in the Maracana against Brazil to taking on the Italian press during his time with Milan.
He said: “This book goes to some dark ares of my life – it’s not all a bed of roses – it’s not all thrills and spills which is what you go through when you’ve had the sort of career that I had.
“I like to think the book offers a lot to all sorts of levels and supporters – I appreciate the relationship you have with the fans, it was very important to me.
“I hope everybody picks up on that – to be part of the fan base and understand what they’re thinking and what they appreciate out of a player.
“I’m comfortable with who I am and what I’ve done.”
Mark Hateley Hitting The Mark, published by Reach Sport, is on sale for 50 per cent off for Black Friday from reachsportshop.com. Also available from Amazon and book shops.