When Alan Durban took over as Town boss in February 1974 it was clear that Town needed to sign some proven strikers and that summer in came Phil ‘Chic’ Bates and Ray Haywood from Stourbridge for a joint fee of around £10,000. At that point no one knew that it would lead to a 40 year relationship between Chic and the football club.
In his first season with the Town Chic scored 17 goals as Shrewsbury gained promotion to the Third Division. He added another seven to that total in the 1975-76 season and followed that up with 13 in the 76-77 campaign. He started the 1977-78 season well and it attracted the attention of Swindon Town who would eventually pay £30,000 for his services midway through that season.
However, that wasn’t the end of Bates’ relationship with Shrewsbury. He would return just three years later, this time from Bristol Rovers, for £20,000. When he returned Town were now in the Second Division and were managed by fellow legend Graham Turner.
Bates’ second spell with Town was certainly less productive in front of goal as he scored just 24 goals in all competitions, compared with the 52 goals in his first spell, but his role was no less important as he featured 160 times during six seasons.
Bates passed his coaching badges in July 1981 and it came as no surprise when he was lined-up as Graham Turner’s successor when Turner moved to Wolves in 1984. Many predicted that Town would be relegated without Graham, but Chic managed to guide Town to their highest ever Football League finish of 8th in the Second Division back in 1984/85. Sadly Bates would leave the club in 1987, a move which saw Chairman Tim Yates resign.
Chic would end up working as Assistant to Lou Macari at Swindon Town, Stoke City and Celtic. When Macari left Stoke for the second time in 1997, Bates took over as manager but that would only last a year.
Shrewsbury was where his heart lay and he returned to the club in 1999 to become Assistant Manager. During his time as Assistant he would twice take on the top role again on a caretaker basis, before eventually retiring from football.
Chic was a true clubman and he can still be found watching the Town on a Saturday afternoon. Chic continues to live in Shrewsbury and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.