Telling It Like It Was
Farmer Still Candid In New Interview
For decades, it was as if nobody at Molineux dared to criticise Stan Cullis. Publicly anyway.
Amid the gratitude for his huge impact on so many outstanding careers, there had been quiet rumblings from players about the abrasive style that earned him the nickname The Iron Manager – but nothing more.
Then came Ted Farmer’s 1987 book The Heartbreak Game and some stinging criticism about the treatment he received following an explosive arrival in first-team football that injury made all too brief.
The centre-forward turns 80 next year and has offered further insight into Cullis’s ways in a long interview with former Daily Express sports writer John Wragg for Backpass magazine.
This is balanced content, though. The three-page article, containing photos of Farmer goals at Arsenal and Fulham, is a highly entertaining walk through the Black Country boy’s stunning rise and subsequent treatment-table agony.
By way of a typically forthright overview, he is quoted as saying: “Cullis was a great manager of a great side. The 1950s team was probably one of the greatest squads of all time but he was very poor when his mind went.”
Over the last 15 years or so, I have noticed that the massive reverence in which Cullis was held was just occasionally punctuated by more outspoken comments by other players.
Sadly, only Ron Flowers, Gerry Harris, Bobby Mason and Colin Booth survive of what we might call the lasting thoroughbreds of the club’s glory years but Alan Hinton’s autobiography is on the way and he has been candid in the past about the methods of his first manager.
While we await his story, we are happy to again promote the wonderful work of Backpass, the latest issue of which has Allan Clarke on the front.
David Harrison, the former Wolves correspondent of the Express & Star and now a match-day media host at Molineux, has spoken to the Leeds legend and drawn more general reference to the remarkable Short Heath family that also spawned Wanderers forwards Wayne and Derek.
Elsewhere in these glossy 64 pages are photos of John Barnwell and Paul Walker in Peterborough colours, of Bobby Gould with Coventry friends and of Jim McCalliog with Scotland.
There’s a mention of Wolves’ mid-1970s success in the Daily Express Five-A-Side Championships, a lovely tribute to Graham Taylor from ex-referee Alan Seville, a 1966 World Cup squad photo containing Ron Flowers and a Taylor-John Ward anecdote from the memory bank of one of the game’s best-travelled players.
For ordering details, please click on the Backpass cover to the right that shows John Richards on its front.