Tributes paid a nice guy Mick Bates passes away
Monday, 12th Jul 2021 18:25 by Tim Whelan
Yet another member of the famous Revie squad has passed away, with the death of Mick Bates at the age of 73. We’ve lost far too many of them in what seems like a very short space of time.
Bates was born in Armthorpe, Doncaster, in 1947, but came to Leeds as an apprentice before signing professional forms in 1964. He made his debut the following year against Hartlepool in the League Cup. That was the first of 191 appearances for the club in all competitions, before his departure in 1976.
He scored a total of nine goals, by far the most important of which was our second equaliser in Turin as Leeds secured a 2-2 draw with Juventus in the final of the 1971 Fairs Cup. Ultimately that goal was to see Leeds lift the trophy thanks to the away goals rule after a 1-1 draw in the return game at Elland Road, one occasion when England triumphed over Italy in a major final.
He also won an FA Cup winners medal in 1972, and although his four appearances in the 1968/69 championship season weren’t enough to win him a medal, he did get onto the field sufficient times to add a league winners medal to his collection in 1973/4. He was best known as a dependable understudy, but he was always guaranteed to get a few games at the end of each season when Leeds always ran into a fixture backlog as we had to fight on several fronts at the same time.
He might have got more games if he had played in the modern era of squad rotation, but in those days Leeds played the first choice eleven in as many games as possible, the occasional league cup tie and the end of the 1969/70 season excepted. So it is a bit of a surprise that he was content to stay at Leeds as an understudy to Giles and Bremner for so long, when many others would have moved to a lesser club in search of regular first team football.
Perhaps this was due to a lack of ambition, as Johnny Giles once explained. "Good player, good ability, could have been better." Whenever Giles asked Bates to put in a bit more effort in training he would reply "Look John, I know you want to be the best midfield player in the world, but I don’t want to be the best midfield player in the world."
As the Revie squad began to break up Bates was transferred to Walsall at the end of the 1975/6 season, and he wound down his career with a spell at Bradford before he finally turned out for his hometown club Doncaster Rovers, before retiring in 1981. Many of the tributes today have stressed what a wonderful person he was as well as a footballer.
On the official site Eddie Gray said “He was a smashing lad, Mick, he was a top player, I always said he should have moved on as he was the understudy to Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles, but he loved the club so much and being part of it, which is why he stayed from 1963 until 1976. Mick had a great rapport with all of his teammates and everybody in our squad liked him, he was a great lad.”
“As well as being a great footballer, as I said, Mick really was a top lad and was liked by everyone.” And Ian Baird took to twitter to say “Another sad day with the passing of Mick Bates. A lovely bloke who would train with us on a Friday when I was a young lad at #LUFC #RIP”. That would have been in 1985 when Baird first joined us from Southampton, so he must have had an attachment to the club he found impossible to break.
Quite deservedly Bates was part of the Leeds team given the freedom of the city by Leeds City Council in 2019 as part of the club’s centenary celebrations. The statement of the club’s official site finishes by saying "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mick’s wife Jill, son Paul and the rest of his family at this difficult time." Farewell to the most honourable Bates that has ever been associated with our club.
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