Billy Reigned Even Longer Than We Thought
Debut Day – A Fresh Insight
At last…..a chink has appeared in the armoury of the peerless idol that was Billy Wright.
It has taken eight whole decades and, even now, we are not suggesting that Wolves’ and England’s finest had a weakness to his game.
But it does seem that his memory did not always match the on-field attributes that made the Molineux captain the first man in the world to be capped 100 times by a country.
Writer Steve Gordos has uncovered decisive evidence that contradicts Billy’s long-stated assertion of having made his Wolves debut in a wartime game away to Notts County. Instead, he has found that another friendly a week earlier at Albion provided the player’s big entrance at the age of 15 years and seven months.
And it was 80 years ago yesterday that the blond youngster trotted out at The Hawthorns – to play in a left-wing role that would over the years become a distant memory.
War had been declared only three weeks before that derby clash on September 23, 1939, with the Football League programme promptly abandoned.
In an article for this week’s Black Country Bugle, Gordos has pointed out not only that a thrilling game provided a win from behind for Wolves but that the very fixture seemed to escape the player’s powers of recollection.
Even the books written by Billy, such as Captain of England and Football is My Passport, referred to him being given his first-team breakthrough against County at Meadow Lane.
But the Bugle article says: “A cutting from the Birmingham Despatch confirms Billy played at The Hawthorns, with his name appearing in the Wolves line-up as Wright (W).
“The initial after his name is because the club also had on their books Horace Wright, an inside-forward.
“Youngsters like Billy were needed by manager Major Frank Buckley as several senior Wolves players had already been called up for military or police service.”
Gordos further reported that the Despatch referred to a warden being on duty in the Hawthorns offices, seated by a telephone in case of warnings of an air raid.
Wolves were 2-0 down at The Hawthorns at half-time but England full-back Bill Morris pulled one back, Alex McIntosh equalised and Dennis Westcott put them ahead before George Banks made it 3-3. Westcott then completed his hat-trick with two late goals.