Peerless In Seattle

Hinton Still At Home Out West

We at Wolves Heroes were frustrated in our attempts to set up a rendezvous with Alan Hinton when the winger with the white boots was back in the Midlands almost three months ago.

With time differences and phone call costs, what better way then, by way of compensation, to invite the former Wolves, Derby and England star to tell the story of his Molineux life (and beyond) than in an open letter to this website?

Actually, it was an email from his home on the United States’ west coast – and a weighty one at that. So much so that we plan to dip back into our inbox and use a second instalment soon. Here’s the story – in Alan’s own words:

Alan Hinton taking a bow at Seattle Sounders.

“I am now in my 68th year and live in Seattle with my wife of 45 years, Joy. Our daughter Tania and three grandchildren live ten minutes away.

I take the kids to school every morning and I am so proud of them – Matteo, 12, (named after our late son Matthew), Alexia, ten, and Isabelle, eight.

I do TV and radio pre-match and half-time work for Seattle Sounders FC and find it so enjoyable contributing to the game I have loved all my life. Sounders expect crowds of 35,000 to 40,000 this season, so they are a big draw.

I loved the Wolves from around the age of seven. I lived in Wednesbury and we were an honourable working-class family. I was the oldest of three lads, all choir boys who were kept on the move, mainly by our mother while our father worked hard to pay the bills.

A tennis ball became my best friend and was always carried with me. There was little traffic, which meant I could play in the streets and find many walls to shoot against. One week I’d be at Wolves, the next WBA, Villa, Birmingham or sometimes Walsall. So much football on our doorstep.

I played for St.Barts, then Wednesbury Town team, South East Staffordshire and Birmingham County. My headmaster was the football coach and the most impressive role model I could wish for.

Scouts came to watch on Saturday mornings and after being presented with some choices, I was so proud to join Wolves as a groundstaff boy in 1957.

George Noakes, the wonderful chief scout, was also from Wednesbury, so were Norman Deeley and John Kirkham. I was in good hands.

I played Wolverhampton Works League football at 15 and quickly grew up. My mates at Wolves were John Kirkham, Graham Newton, Terry Wharton, Bobby Thomson, Kenny Sill, David Oliphant, Freddie Goodwin, Fred Kemp, David Hughes,Vic Cockcroft, David Read, Brian Perry and David Woodfield. Anyone know what happened to these super young footballers?

Hinton in England training, watched by Wolves team-mate Ron Flowers.

Most kids wanted to play for the Wolves. Standards were high. Stan Cullis was tough and Joe Gardiner, Jack Dowen, Bill Shorthouse and others were understanding but focused on the winning tradition of this wonderful club. Jack Davies was in charge of the youngsters and Fred the groundskeeper kept us busy.

The first team was full of international superstars. Billy Wright made me feel very special, so did other household names with their kidding and encouragement.

I’m talking about Malcolm Finlayson, George Showell, Eddie Stuart, Bill Slater, Bill Shorthouse, Bobby Mason, Barry Stobart, Fred Davies, Bill Slater, Jimmy Murray, Ron Flowers, Norman Deeley, John Kirkham, Gerry Mannion, Micky Lill, Des Horne, Cliff Durandt and especially Peter Broadbent, who took care of me when I gained a first-team place just after my 18th birthday. He made me look good with his great passing and service.

Ted Farmer was the bravest and toughest goalscorer I ever played with. Serious injury  issues cut his career short. What a tragedy for Wolves and particularly for Ted!

I represented Wolves with England under-18s, under-23s and then the England first team. But I wasn’t ready to be a full international after only 26 first-team games and Cullis told me so. A little like Theo Walcott now.

I played 75 games for Wolves, scoring 29 goals, but an unpleasant surprise was in store…….”

Sincere thanks and best wishes to all.

Alan Hinton.

The rest of Alan’s story will be posted on Wolves Heroes soon.

Thomas Publications