Hinton’s Happy Homecoming
Molineux Return For Star Winger
Alan Hinton makes a sentimental journey back to the home of his boyhood dreams this week – on a visit from his base on America’s west coast.
The former left-winger is over here on an extended stay and will be attending Wednesday’s Wolves v Derby game in the fervent hope that he is watching two clubs who will climb side by side into the Premier League in the coming weeks.
Hinton scored 29 goals in 78 Wanderers games at the start of his outstanding career and was still at Molineux when he made his senior England debut, that outing against France being followed by two more caps won while with he was with Nottingham Forest.
“I was lucky to play for three big Midlands clubs and would love to see them all back in the top division,” he told us.
“Wolves are in with a wonderful chance of going up this time and I am sure they will do it. Someone has clearly got hold of them and they are doing it properly.
“It seems Forest are too far behind but Derby are still in contention as well, although they haven’t been playing well.
“Having two of my clubs back in the big league and playing Manchester City, Manchester United and the rest would be tremendous. I will be a very interested spectator on Wednesday and am really excited about being there.”
We caught up with Alan at an East Midlands hotel on Thursday – on the very day another former Wolves no 11, Dave Wagstaffe, would have celebrated a birthday and caught up with his predecessor’s 75 years.
It isn’t entirely clear when the Wednesbury-born player was last at the ground because he added: “I know Sir Jack Hayward’s son was running the place and Rachael Heyhoe Flint was very kind in welcoming me. It was a good few years ago.
“I also remember that the ground has changed so much from the one I knew from my early days in the game. That huge South Bank, which took we groundstaff boys a day and a half to sweep, has gone for a start.”
Hinton attended Derby’s recent home game against Sunderland in the company of Roy McFarland and was picked up by the TV cameras during the Rams’ 4-1 defeat.
It was while at the Baseball Ground that he achieved his greatest feats, notably helping Brian Clough’s side to win the League Championship title in 1971-72 and then being part of the squad who triumphed again in 1974-75, this time under Dave Mackay.
That first unlikely success was famously secured by Wolves’ epic last-night victory over Leeds while the Rams were abroad on a club holiday and Hinton will be accompanied by his Wolverhampton-based brother Brian and one-time Molineux youngster Graham Newton when he takes his seat in the directors’ box in two nights’ time.
“I have such happy memories of the place,” he added. “I was given a standing ovation when I went back there for the first time as a player in the 1960s and never wanted to leave Wolves at all.
“I spoke some time ago to Ian Storey Moore and told him I couldn’t really understand why Forest had wanted to sign me because they had him emerging in the same position.”