At Home Away
Woodfield A Wanderer In Both Senses
Some of the large gaps in Dave Woodfield’s post-Molineux life have at last been filled in – and confirmation received as to his current whereabouts.
But it sounds as though anyone hoping and expecting to see him rushing back to these shores when he turns 65 in October should brace themselves for disappointment.
Woodfield, possibly more than virtually any other former Wolves player, has shown a desire to roam the planet since he hung up his boots well over 30 years ago.
Which explains why he is currently living and working in Malaysia and is thought to have gone almost 12 years since last visiting the UK.
Wolves Heroes have not spoken to the rugged centre-half for this article, so remain grateful to his Warwickshire-based brother Paul for extracting a few of the answers we were seeking and to their niece Kate for supplying the picture.
And the first thing Paul told us was: “David is not one for living in the past. Now is now and he still has a busy life, as he has in various parts of the world for two or three decades.
“If I remember right, he hasn’t been back here since May, 1997 and I don’t get the idea that he is planning to come back to settle in the forseeable future.
“He has taught for several years at an international school around an hour from Kuala Lumpur and he also does some private football coaching.
“He went to Malaysia in 1997 on a three-year contract with a football club and moved to a nearby club when that deal came to an end. He has been teaching since then.”
Woodfield is one of the few players to bridge the Cullis and McGarry eras. He made 276 first-team appearances for the club from 1959 to 1970 and was pictured with Elton John when he returned to Molineux as a Watford player for his testimonial in 1973-74.
Although he found his senior opportunities limited in the late 1960s by the presence of Frank Munro, John Holsgrove and a young John McAlle, he clearly made enough of an impression on Bill McGarry to be asked to work as one of his assistants at Newcastle in the late 1970s and when the manager himself worked in the Middle East.
By the time ‘Duggie’ was spending a year or two on Tyneside, though, he appears to have acquired some wanderlust.
He went to Saudi Arabia with Jimmy Hill as part of the efforts to boost football in the desert kingdom and, despite a stint running a pub in Newmarket with his Wolverhampton-born wife Wendy, travelling continued to occupy his mind.
One of the three years he had in Qatar were spent as assistant national coach to his former Wolves team-mate Frank Wignall and he also worked in Oman before pitching up in Kuwait – a country where he married for the second time and then had to flee as a result of Iraq’s 1990 invasion.
“It’s strange how brothers can have such differing lives!” added Paul. “My family have always been content with holidays in England and have barely travelled abroad. But David is hardly ever in the country.
“I had a go at making it as a footballer but had some injury problems and in the end played for teams like Banbury United, under their previous name, and Redditch.
“But I remember our father taking us over to Molineux from our home in Leamington when David was about to sign for Wolves.
“I was in awe looking up at Stan Cullis as he spoke. It was a Sunday morning and Billy Wright was in there for treatment until being called away for the birth of his first child.
“If I remember right, David was most inspired by Manchester United as a kid and he went there for a while as a schoolboy. But he was very happy at Wolves and had some great times.”
The Woodfields’ wedding reception, when he was 20, was held at the Molineux Hotel, which is due to reopen next month. And team-mates recall how dedicated their long-time centre-half was.
“When he lived in Fordhouses, he would walk to and from training,” Dave Wagstaffe remembers. “He would do anything to try to get fitter.”
And Phil Parkes says: “There used to be a shop near the Goal Post where he’d buy a bottle of milk to drink while he was walking. He was fitness-mad. And he’d play just the way that he trained, 110 per cent. He never left anything in the dressing room.
“Funnily enough, a chap asked me at the Hall of Fame dinner at Molineux recently where Duggie was these days and I told him I had no idea. He seems to be one of those former team-mates that no-one has been able to keep up with.”