WITH every respect to the good folk of Hull, Boothferry Park has to be something of a culture shock to the man who has been charged with the responsibility of lifting the profile and prestige of the local football club.

Mark Hateley has plied his trade in rather better known football arenas, like the San Siro of Milan, the Stade Louis 11 in Monaco and Ibrox Park, Glasgow, but chose to begin his management apprenticeship down in the nether regions of the English third division.

That is not only some 400 miles distant from Ibrox but a couple of thousand light years from the ferocious Old Firm passions.

However, as he did with many a flying tackle, Hateley takes it all in his stride. ''I could have gone to America or Malaysia and made far more money than I am getting here,'' he says, ''but I chose to start as a manager somewhere I could learn what it is about from scratch. It is hard down in this league, especially as when I arrived there were 46 players on the books, but I consider it an important part of the learning process. I went abroad to learn more about playing the game and I am determined to do an apprenticeship at the other side of the business.''

He has taken a little bit of Scotland and Ibrox there with him, none the less, in the shape of Billy Kirkwood, former Rangers reserve team coach and Dundee United player and manager.

Both recall clearly enough in their Ibrox time an eight-day spell in March, 1991, when the Old Firm met twice in cup and league, a very similar pattern to the stint that begins tomorrow when the same teams collide in the same competitions.

Hateley, not surprisingly, has better memories of the Glasgow derbies than those two meetings. He, along with team-mates Terry Hurlock and Mark Walters, was sent off in the first, the Scottish Cup quarter-final, when Celtic won 2-0 at Parkhead, and then Rangers lost the second 3-0 in the league also at Parkhead.

''Despite that, I have far more good than bad memories of the Old Firm games. I don't think I lost too many of them in my time.''

If, for many of us, the sight of Englishmen like Hateley becoming every bit as passionate on these occasions as the home-bred lot, who will certainly have been tainted to some degree by the history, Mark sees no anomaly in his own case.

''That is just the way I am. It is part of my play. I know I loved those games and most of the guys in the Rangers side in my time felt the same. We couldn't get enough of them.''

Even so, the itinerant Hateley wouldn't go as far as to say the Scottish derby was any more demanding than those in Italy or France. ''In Monaco against Marseilles we kicked lumps out of each other,'' he says.

Strangely, while the English invasion of the Scottish game didn't reduce the ferocity of the Glasgow derby - not so's you'd notice, anyway - Hateley is of the opinion that some of the passion might be tempered by the influx of players from abroad.

''I think it will change a bit because the more outside influence there, is the more the passion will be diluted. But they will still want to win the game all right.''

If this travellin' man has one regret in his career it would be that he left Ibrox in September, 1995 to join QPR in a #1m deal. ''I was a bit low at the time after two operations on my knee and ankle and it is at times like that you make rash decisions.

''In hindsight it was one of the worst decisions I made but I had to get on with it. I should have stayed where I was but the club was going through a transitional period and after five years it maybe needed freshening up.

''When the offer came through from QPR I think it was a good bit of business for David Murray. Maybe I was due a bad decision.''

He recalls his 18 months at QPR as ''frustrating''. He goes on: ''I tried to get playing sooner than I should have done after the operation. I couldn't get myself as fit as I wanted to be.''

It is not difficult to imagine his feelings, then, when he received a call on his way back from training one Thursday (''stuck in yet another traffic jam'') and his agent told him: ''Rangers want you back.''

His initial response was that he was having the mickey taken but once he got his head together he needed no long-term pondering to make up his mind. ''I am grateful to David Murray and Walter for taking me back because I honestly felt I should have finished my major playing career with Rangers. I was allowed to do that.''

He did get sent off in the Old Firm game two days later but still insists he didn't deserve it, but not before he had helped set up the winning goal for Brian Laudrup.

He had hoped to be given a further year at Ibrox but understood the decision to let him go last summer and it was during the break that after discussions with his family he elected to go for the unglamorous job at Hull rather than the luxurious lifestyle that would have awaited him in the US. ''Lifestyle is what you make of it and I just felt it was the right time to think of this side of the game.''

He is player-manager at Hull but has not played because of injury for four months. He is hoping to rectify that soon and, by the looks of the team's position, they need him. ''We have had highs and lows but that is what you get with players of this standard.''

He still looks for the Rangers result first. ''Once you have pulled on that jersey you are a Rangers supporter for life. In any case, I loved Glasgow, my wife and kids loved Glasgow and we still miss it.''

Will he come back again. ''Who knows in football? My ambitions now are to progress at this side of the business and maybe get the chance of managing a team with players of the standard I played beside all my career.''

At Ibrox? As the man says, who knows?