Doncaster Rovers' top ten goalkeepers - #9 Ike Tate

It is doubtful that Ike Tate would have got a game as a goalkeeper in modern football.

Monday, 19th October 2020, 1:19 pm
Doncaster Rovers 1934-35. Ike Tate, back row, fourth from left.

Standing only 5 feet 9 inches tall, this compact but agile performer would have been urged to try his luck elsewhere on the field. However, he gave Rovers faithful service over a number of seasons, even though he seldom had the honour of being first choice.

Tate, who hailed from Gateshead, began his career with Newcastle United, making his Football League debut as an 18-year-old. In 1927 he moved south to join West Ham United, but in two seasons there he made only 14 league appearances. Rovers, who were then managed by David Menzies, were looking for a replacement for Jack Maughan and in the summer of 1929, Tate came to Belle Vue. Rovers had finished 4th and 5th in Division Three (North) in the preceding seasons but had lost the services of the great Tom Keetley who had moved to Notts. County. Tate was Rovers’ first choice goalkeeper (his deputy, Joe Wilkinson, had begun his career at centre-half!) and missed few games. He played a big part in the third round FA Cup tie with Second Division Stoke City at Belle Vue. The first game, played in a snowstorm, was abandoned after 75 minutes with the visitors leading 3-2 after Tate complained to the referee that he could not see. The game was replayed the following Thursday and although Rovers had Jim Smith sent off, they won thanks to a goal from Mick Patterson and a string of brilliant saves from Tate.

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Tate began the 1930-31 season in goal but soon lost his place to Jack Moody. He didn’t return on a regular basis until February 1932, when Moody was sold to Manchester United. These were difficult times for Rovers, and in 1931-32 average attendances fell below 4,000 for the first time since their return to the Football League in 1923. Tate found himself back in the cold at the start of 1932-33, replaced by new signing Stan Walker who had more of a physical presence. However, after a few heavy defeats, notably a 1-6 pummelling at Hull, Menzies recalled Tate to the colours. He starred in a 3-1 victory over Barnsley and a late-season revival saw Rovers finish a respectable 6th in Division Three (North).

Yet it was Tate’s fate never to be sure of his place in the Rovers’ team. Jock Imrie was recruited from Luton and got the nod at the start of the 1933-34 season. There was not much to choose between the two, except that Imrie was slightly taller. At the end of January 1934 Tate was recalled and he proved something of a lucky charm, Rovers losing only twice in 16 games and scoring heavily through Ronnie Dodd and Bert Turner. These two forwards, along with Stan Burton and Reg Baines, were to be key men in Rovers’ successful campaign of 1934-35, which saw them take the Third North Championship for the first time.

Tate had a role to play in what was to be his final playing season at Belle Vue. He played in the first 15 games of the season, during which time Rovers produced some impressive displays, but he lost his place after being stretchered off in the 1-1 draw at Carlisle. Wilf Shaw took over in goal that day, but more significantly Imrie wore the jersey for the next game and did so for most of the rest of the season. Tate’s final outing came in the April fixture with Lincoln City when he deputised for Imrie, who had dislocated a finger in the preceding match. Nevertheless, Tate’s 16 appearances were enough to earn him a deserved Championship medal.

That was the end of Tate’s playing career, although he spent the 1935-36 season as assistant to the trainer, Bob McLean. He was a faithful servant to the club who perhaps didn’t get the recognition he deserved. Maybe even in those days, size mattered!

Name: Isaac Halliday TATE

Born: Gateshead, 21st July 1906

Died: 1986

Signed for Rovers: July 1929, from West Ham United

Left Rovers: March 1935, retired and joined training staff

Appearances: League 127, Cup 8