All Right In White
Summer Stars, Too, But Will It Happen Again?
Of all the hopes and intentions voiced since England’s memorable World Cup victory at Lord’s on Sunday, a revival of cricket matches involving major football clubs has not registered on the radar.
But that will not stop us from reflecting on the days when such fixtures were commonplace for various Wolves teams at this exact time of year.
There is photographic evidence from as far back as the 1940s that Wanderers squads were happy to try their hand at the summer sport.
Stan Cullis and Billy Wright were among those who donned their whites when Wolves pitched up for a match in the summer of 1949 – taking along the recently-won FA Cup to make their visit even more memorable.
It was by no means the only time the club’s finest ever collection of players switched sports and the presence on the Molineux payroll in subsequent decades of accomplished cricketers such as Phil Parkes and Terry Wharton might explain why the custom was continued.
Wolverhampton’s Danescourt headquarters, inevitably, has been one of those summer venues that has been well visited by the football brethren but Wolves Heroes’ John Richards pointed out today: “Brewood was another of the clubs we played against and we also played at Penn.
“Kenny Hibbitt was one of our star performers. He was as good with the cricket bat as he was with a golf club – it must have been his Yorkshire upbringing.
“Lofty was good with the ball, a medium-pace bowler. Geoff Palmer was also a decent player, both as a bowler and batsman, but I have to say my own performances were average at best.”
The Graham Turner era was another in which Wolves fans could see their favourites trying their hand at other skills from time to time.
Keith Pearson’s long-time presence as Molineux secretary set up more than one visit to Milford Hall, near Stafford, where the author of this piece recalls having his car windscreen smashed by a six hit over the pavilion by Robbie Dennison!
Graham Taylor was another keen cricket fan – he once watched England play a Test match in South Africa – and had a close ally in that respect in Rachel Heyhoe Flint, who made history both as an enterprising and talented national captain and then as the first female member of the MCC.
So when might we see Wolves padding up to face local cricket clubs again?
With a foreign head coach and a substantial group of players from Iberia, the temptation is to think it won’t happen in the near future.
But, as Owen Morgan and his players learned three days ago, anything is possible.
*Wolves have never had a player with the name of Morgan (surname anyway!), nor an Archer, a Root, a Bairstow or Roy, but have had Butlers, a Stokes and a Wood.