Knowles: The Forgotten Debut

Far From Home – An Exciting First Glimpse

A perky Peter Knowles (far left) lines up along with (from left) George Showell, Bobby Thomson, Terry Wharton, Fred Davies, Alan Hinton.

We all know Peter Knowles’s last first-team game for Wolves was 50 years ago today against Nottingham Forest. But where was his first?

The perceived wisdom is that it was a month and a half into the 1963-64 season when a First Division game at Leicester brought him his competitive senior debut for the club.

We have found a much earlier date for his arrival on the bigger stage, though – Monday, October 8, 1962 to be precise.

That was the day Wolves headed north of the border for a game at Morton that marked the switching-on of the Scottish second division club’s floodlights for the first time.

And Knowles was on view when going on as a substitute in his side’s 5-2 victory .

The door was open to him because Peter Broadbent was injured, having had a transfer request turned down by the club a few days earlier.

In the meantime, Wolves had lost the 11-game unbeaten run with which they had started the campaign when going down 2-0 at home to an Everton side who would run away with the League Championship by a full six points.

Knowles had recently been upgraded from apprentice status to that of first-team pro and had scored on his debut in the reserves against Albion.

At 17, those developments helped earn him a trip north of the border, where Wolves were ‘snapped’ by a newspaper photographer on arrival in Greenock.

The game was a relatively straightforward exercise whether the newcomer was viewing it from the bench or much closer up after going on for Barry Stobart.

Jimmy Murray and Peter McParland put the visitors two up, each when set up by the other, and a 35-yarder from Murray made it 3-0.

McLochlan pulled two back, though, and it needed a fine solo goal from McParland to restore the two-goal lead before the interval.

And the Northern Ireland completed his hat-trick on a night on which Knowles was described in reports as looking ‘an exciting prospect’.

Although his League bow was a year away, there was a strong nucleus of the side – around the captaincy of George Showell in the who would become senior-team-mates.

Other absentees were Ted Farmer and Chris Crowe, the latter of whom, along with Alan Hinton, had just learned that he wasn’t being retained for England’s next match after facing the French at Hillsborough a few days earlier.

‘Knocker’ and the style that came to be revered.

Hinton’s place on the left-wing had gone to the uncapped Huddersfield winger Mike O’Grady – later to serve at Molineux – but, had we but known it at the time, this weekend was really all about the confident first steps in Stan Cullis’s side of Peter Knowles at the 12,000-capacity Cappielow Park. And what headlines he would write in the coming years.

Wolves’ line-up at Morton: Davies, Showell, Thomson, Goodwin, Woodfield, Kirkham, Wharton, Stobart (Knowles), McParland, Murray, Hinton. Also travelled: Harris.