A Time To Remember
Despatches Of The Saddest Kind
Wolverhampton Wanderers are well known for having had a Major as a manager and for later fielding a defensive strong-man, Bill Shorthouse, who was wounded in the D-day landings.
Sadly, the club also had their share of fatalaties in the 20th century’s two biggest wars, with the names of two of them providing an ironic latter-day twist.
Rooney and Parker are key men in an England squad around whom a row erupted this week over the FA’s wish for poppies to be woven alongside the Three Lions for tomorrow’s Wembley friendly against Spain.
But Wolves once had a Rooney of their own – a Geordie centre-half who was killed in Italy in 1943 aged 24 after playing twice in their first team. Some history books show him bearing the Christian name of John while others opt for Joe.
The identity of another victim seems more clear-cut. Billy Parker was a Liverpool-born full-back who spent the 1938-39 season at Molineux and played three first-team matches. He also served Marine and Hull, guested for Crewe during the war and was then killed on active service.
Eric ‘Ned’ Robinson, who scored three times across the two legs when Wolves thrashed Albion 7-1 in the semi-final of the 1941-42 Wartime League Cup, subsequently died on military service. He is said to have drowned on exercises.
Frank Buckley, having served fought in the Boer War, then served in the First World War with the 17th Middlesex Regiment (known as the Footballers’ Battalion) and suffered wounds to his lung and shoulder in the Battle of the Somme. He was promoted from Commanding Officer to Major during the hostilities and, as a Wolves manager in his late 50s during the Second World War, had his request for conscription turned down.
Wolves have never had a Poppy in their first team but had a Pollett around a decade ago and also a right-winger called Poppitt (first name James) who played 21 games when the 1890s ran into the 1900s.
And, because there were no international breaks 100 years ago, the club did play a game on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year. On November 11, 1911, before the need for Remembrance Day, they lost 2-1 at Barnsley.
Two more victims of war – albeit ones who survived to tell the tale – were winger Alan Steen and inside-forward Alex McIntosh.
Steen, blooded along with Jimmy Mullen in Wolves’ first team at 16 in 1939, was taken prisoner in a bombing raid over Germany in October, 1943.
And McIntosh played in every round, including the final, of Wolves’ 1938-39 FA Cup round, scoring in two of the early ties. He was also a POW in Holland but returned to play briefly for the club in 1946-47 before moving on to Birmingham, Coventry, Kidderminster, Bilston and Hereford.