Between 1971 and 1977 Belfast-born Hamilton had a top flight career as a midfielder for Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town and for Billy Bingham’s Everton.
He then played for Second Division Millwall and Third Division Swindon Town before moving as player-manager to Fourth Division Tranmere Rovers in October 1980.
He retired as a player in 1983 and left Prenton Park in 1985 to become manager of Wigan Athletic, a club which Milne himself had managed in the Northern Premier League before it had become a Football League club in 1978 under the guidance of former Leicester City player Ian McNeill.
For most of Hamilton’s season at Third Division Wigan Athletic (1985/86), it had looked as if his side, which contained future Leicester City players Steve Walsh, Mike Newell and David Lowe, would be promoted to the old Second Division for the first time in the Club’s history, but they lost out by one point to Derby County.
The Latics also won the Freight Rover Trophy that season. In the close season, when Gordon Milne became General Manager at Filbert Street, the Leicester City Board turned to Hamilton to become their team manager.
Hamilton was a very different type of manager from Milne, but he made a good start. His first signing was Steve Walsh from Wigan Athletic who went on to become a Leicester City legend.
In September he paid a Club record fee of £300,000 for Southampton striker Steve Moran and by October the City were in the top half of the ‘old’ First Division. However the next eight games only yielded two points and the team lost all of the remaining 16 away matches.
In March 1987, Steve Lynex left Filbert Street and Alan Smith was transferred to Arsenal. He was loaned back for the rest of the season which ended with Leicester City being relegated. Gordon Milne left in the summer and Hamilton assumed sole charge of team affairs.
He signed experienced goalkeeper Paul Cooper, Welsh international defender Robbie James and York City midfielder Gary Ford, but the team lost five of their first six matches and sunk to 22nd position.
In August, Mike Newell signed for a Club record £350,000 from Wigan Athletic. Finland international Jari Rantanen also arrived, but Steve Moran and Scotland international Ian Wilson both departed before Christmas.
There were reports of dressing room unhappiness, and in December, with Leicester City in 23rd position, Hamilton was replaced by David Pleat. The Irishman returned to Wigan Athletic for the next five years.
He managed Northern Ireland between 1994 and 1998. A short spell as Norwich City’s manager, a coaching spell at Ipswich Town, a Technical Director’s post in Antigua and Barbuda, and various jobs in the media followed.
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