An Insight Like No Other
Skipper Opens Up On Fondly Remembered Renaissance Era
Gary Bellamy and Steve Stoutt were good players who lacked confidence, Floyd Streete had the attributes to play at a significantly higher level and Micky Holmes was inclined to cry when he was left out of teams in his younger years.
Alistair Robertson doesn’t stop there. He tells us that the Wolves dressing room became a much duller place when the club said goodbye to David ‘Digger’ Barnes – ‘he was the funniest lad’ – and reveals that Holmes and Jon Purdie were his biggest Molineux mates, partly because they shared his views on what might be described as refuelling!
From this stalwart of Black Country football, there is also much analysis of Steve Bull, with whom he was a team-mate in Albion’s reserves for many months in the mid-1980s before they were reunited amid great success across the patch.
But, as well as offering the new view that ‘Garry Pendrey turned Bull around big time’ from the hungry but wasteful rookie that fans on both sides of the big divide once knew, the hard-man defender tells us in his long-awaited autobiography who was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of talent in the squad Graham Turner reshaped to such terrific effect.
“Jon Purdie stood out like a sore thumb,” Robertson reveals. “He’d been with Arsenal as a kid and it showed,” adding for good measure that the forward wasn’t shy of organising a whip-round and making up the full amount himself when Wolves famously struggled to pay the milkman.
There are obvious dangers in writing for Albion and Wolves fans at the same time. I would argue, though, that this publication offers a better, fuller insight into a Molineux playing staff than any other book, bar none.
We are lucky that Robertson not only has a terrific power of recall but also the willingness and even determination to share his memories, good and bad.
This is no shallow skim across a career that stretched well over two decades. It is an in-depth trawl across his life in the dressing room.
There is so much in the 318 pages of ‘Thou Shalt Not Pass; The Alistair Robertson Story’ that we did not previously know – fellow footballers please take note. Revelations and recollections greet us at every turn.
Such as the reaction from the player’s colleagues when Turner was appointed and he, the author, could no longer assume that his status as a prospective player coach would bring him special changing arrangements. Holmes and Purdie got busy in finding an alternative spot for him and, with Barnes, moved his kit to a new peg and stuck his photo on the door to show where he should base himself – the toilet!
“From a club that was falling apart, with all the players moaning, we started winning,” Robertson writes. “We all got along great together. We laughed and giggled.”
They also drank. We have heard before about the Wolves squad’s adaptation of the drinking culture then consuming the English game but this tome lifts the lid a little further, car thefts, pranks, over-indulgences and all.
“The ones who didn’t drink were the ones who didn’t play,” is his curt summing-up of what he calls the Tuesday Club.
I loved every line of it…… mentions of the yellow jersey and then an Albion shirt for the day’s worst trainer, the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of his team-mates and even the advice he gave Turner when asked for it shortly before the manager’s inspired double signing of November, 1986: “Thommo is great and Bully will do your head in,” he told him.
Read it all and enjoy this privileged view from the inside – and relish how Robertson followed up a colossal but trophy-less stay at The Hawthorns by belatedly putting some prizes on his shelf.
One missed promotion, two successive title triumphs, the only two Wembley appearances of his career…….”How fantastic was that?” he asks in reflecting on his Molineux years.
‘Thou Shalt Not Pass’? Thou should not miss! Well done to co-writer Bill Howell – a past Wolves correspondent for the Birmingham Post & Mail group – and Pitch Publisher on a project worth every penny of its £18.99 retail price.