Super Tales Of Molineux Duo
One departed with only the fondest of words for the manager who brought him to Molineux. The other, more than three decades earlier, just couldn’t hit it off with the man who had initially shown such faith as to sign him for a club record fee.
Steve Froggatt and Mark Lazarus are contrasting in many ways but have the common link of falling short in their ambitions to play for England’s senior side.
Lazarus hit a Wembley winner – for QPR against Albion in 1967 – and remains a larger-than-life character whose only football sortie outside his native London was when Stan Cullis invested £27,500 in him early in 1961-62.
Froggatt turned his back on Ron Atkinson’s Villa soon after being overlooked for a League Cup final place and cost Wolves a seven-figure sum that was underlined as good value when he was sold to Coventry for £2.9m four and a half years later.
The two stories are told, separately, in the latest issue of Backpass, which details other fascinating facets of their respective Molineux stays.
Like how Cullis originally allowed Lazarus to train with QPR as he was the father of a one-year-old and the family occupied a new house in Chadwell Heath.
“But from the time I arrived, he was always on at me to move up there,” he told interviewer Steve Tongue. “We just never got on.
“He was a sergeant-major type and I can honestly never remember him saying ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ I was there four months, played nine games and it was the only time in my career I ever asked for a transfer.”
It was the conviction that playing for Wolves would turn him into an international that had persuaded Lazarus to move north. How quickly those hopes were dashed.
Froggatt went mighty close to fulfilling the same England dream, sitting on the bench for the 2-0 victory over Scotland at Hampden Park in a play-off for the 2000 European Championships.
His joy at becoming a father to a baby girl the next day prompted manager Kevin Keegan, having thrown a celebratory dinner for him and produced a jeroboam of champagne, to scrap his intention to play him in the Wembley return in the following midweek.
There was still a plan for his pace to be unleashed in friendlies against Brazil and Ukraine at the end of the season, only for Froggatt to suffer a bad tackle in a Coventry v Sunderland game that proved to be career-ending at the age of 28.
John Wragg’s two-page piece on the player emphasises the obvious affection he always had for Graham Taylor, right back to their shared roots in Lincoln.
The former Imps boss took him to both Villa and Wolves and there could have been a bigger cash-in, Froggatt telling us here that he chose to go to Coventry despite Middlesbrough offering him a further £250,000 a year.
The two articles appear in issue 65 of Backpass, which costs £4.70 and has Billy McNeill on the front.
As ever, there are other Wolves-themed references, including shorter pieces on John Galley and former Molineux youngster Ken Wimshurst.
Turn all 64 pages of the magazine and photos of or containing Kenny Hibbitt, Bobby Gould, John Barnwell, Dave Clements and Gerry Summers are also apparent.
We can not recommend the publication highly enough and there is a five-page feature on Richie Barker, written by Dave McVay, among its many other highlights.
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