The Goalscoring Goalkeeper
An Ode To Fred
Some tourists come back from the USA with Mickey Mouse paraphenalia; others with souvenirs bearing garish stars and stripes trappings.
Fred Davies’ favourite keepsake from Wolves’ trip across the Atlantic in the summer of 1967 is a little more exclusive – a personal poem.
It is now slightly faded and a touch dog-eared but still sits among his proudest possessions because it refers to the time 41 summers ago when the Liverpool-born keeper not only played outfield for his first professional club but also headed an important goal.
The game, played before a 12,000 crowd at the Los Angeles Coliseum, was a grudge fixture against ADO Den Haag in the extended North American Soccer League tournament which Ronnie Allen’s newly-promoted side eventually won.
The Dutch side had beaten Wolves 1-0 in misty San Francisco only two days earlier – helped by the bizarre dismissals of Derek Dougan and Ernie Hunt – but were already trailing to a Terry Wharton goal in the return when Allen decided to take off a limping Mike Bailey mid-way through the second half.
In the absence of Dougan and Hunt, Allen’s resources were a little depleted, so he ordered Davies to whip off his green jersey, put on a gold one instead and join the fray. Let verses six and seven of the poem take up the story:
Then Ron Allen took out Mike Bailey
With 22 minutes to go,
Fred Davies came on to replace him….
That’s right, Fearless Fred, don’t you know.
But Fred is a goalie, I hear you murmur,
So why push the lad up front?
Is it done to bamboozle the Dutchmen?
Or just as a publicity stunt?
But Fred is a crafty campaigner
As very soon he was to prove
With help from Burnside and Wharton,
And Fearless completing the move.
Terry’s dribble, a shot, a deflection,
The big crowd just roared – all alive
As Fred boldly steered in the clincher
With a spectacular senational dive!
“I remember meeting this American guy over there called George Sadler, who came to watch us train and play,” Davies recalls. “We obviously struck a chord with him because some time after we returned home, this poem called The Goalscoring Goalkeeper came addressed to me at Molineux.
“I know it’s very rare for a keeper to score with a header but I have to admit that I never expected to be immortalised in poetry!”