Having mainly played for the reserves at Oxford United, Peter Hatch was twenty-four when he joined Exeter City. Going straight into the team Peter was never really dislodged as he chalked up the best part of 350 league appearances for the Grecians. A member of both City’s 1977 promotion team and the 1981 FA Cup side, Peter was inducted into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in 2017.
Agreeing professional terms for Oxford United in October 1966 Peter was rarely called upon during his seven years at the Manor Ground where - at a time of fewer substitutes and fewer loan opportunities - he made just 19 league appearances scoring two goals.
All was to change when he was signed by Exeter City manager John Newman in December 1973. Immediately making his debut (along with Keith Bowker) at Workington on 15 December 1973 - in a game watched by just 693 spectators - Peter retained his place throughout the remainder of the season as he soon amassed twenty-four appearances for his new club.
Starting 41 league games in 1974/75 Peter was emerging to become one of the best, and most reliable, left-sided players ever to play at St James Park. Spells on the sideline were almost unheard of and, whether in defence or midfield, Peter was known for his anticipation, timing and creativity. He may have often (but not exclusively) worn the number three shirt but he, and the fans, enjoyed him overlapping and getting involved in the attack.
Totting up a further 43 league outings in 1975/76, Peter contributed to the steady improvement of the side leading to promotion in 1976/77 and the eventual seven-year stay in the third-tier. The promotion season itself was a triumph for Peter as he made 43 league appearances and received the player of the season award ahead of the likes of Tony Kellow, John Hore and Alan Beer.
Arriving in the old Division Three, Peter continued to add to his tally of appearances rarely missing a game: 39 games in 1977/78 followed by 45 and 44 in the subsequent two seasons.
Then, for many City fans, the pinnacle of Peter’s time for the club came when, along with featuring in 45 league games, he played in all eight FA Cup cup-ties as the Grecians reached the quarter-finals of the competition. Peter’s own highlight came with the 4th round replay against Newcastle United when he scored once (from a corner) and set up two goals in the 4-0 win.
Making just 20 starts in 1981/82, but finishing with a steady run of games, Peter made his final appearance for Exeter City against Lincoln City on 15 May 1982. He then signed for Hamrun Spartans in Malta and, after finally getting permission from the Maltese immigration department to play, helped the club to their first title in 36 years. Thereafter Peter played for a variety of non-league teams including Bideford, Taunton Town, Barnstaple Town, Dawlish Town, Crediton United and Heavitree United. He also enjoyed a testimonial match against Oxford United (then League Cup holders) in October 1986.
Always a frequent visitor to St James Park over the years, and fondly-remembered by those who followed the club during much of the 1970s and early 1980s, Peter Hatch was inducted into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in November 2017.