Thanks A Lot, Bill
McGarry To Blame For Final Barrier In Wolves’ Bogey Side!
Remember all those difficult nights Wolves had against Tottenham in the early 1970s? It seems Bill McGarry might have been part of the problem!
One of the common denominators in Wolves’ year-on-year big-match struggles against these particular opponents was the formidable barrier provided by Spurs’ outstanding keeper Pat Jennings.
And a new slant has been added, almost 60 years on, to how the Northern Ireland international came to be at White Hart Lane in the first place.
The young Jennings was on the playing staff at Watford when McGarry was appointed as manager there and totalled around 50 games for a club then playing in the Third Division.
But the story of how his big-time calling was answered throws fresh light on those costly games which stood between Wolves and more major silverware almost half a century ago.
We are indebted to Midlands-bred Daily Mail football editor Ian Ladyman for extracting some fascinating recollections – ones that may raise eyebrows at Molineux even now.
In a lengthy interview in the countdown to the North London derby tomorrow, the writer quoted Jennings as saying about the close season of 1964: “Bill McGarry called me back from Ireland for early-summer training but when I got there, it wasn’t about that at all.
“He said (Tottenham manager) Bill Nicholson was waiting for me at Vicarage Road. My head was spinning…Bill Nick was offering me £35 a week. I was already earning that at Watford, with bonuses, so I went back to Ireland.
“Then Nicholson and McGarry flew to Belfast. McGarry said if I dared go back to Watford, I would be training morning, noon and night. They needed the money and wanted me out, so I signed.”
Wolves came out considerably better than evens in the games against Spurs in what was left of the 1960s but narrowly lost to them in the two-leg final of the UEFA Cup in 1972 and were edged out by them in the League Cup semi-final the season after.
As if that isn’t enough, Jennings was then in Arsenal’s goal when they comfortably beat Wolves in a non-event of an FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park in 1979.
So, amid all the good work Bill McGarry did for Wolves, here was a damaging piece of business he conduced even before arriving in the West Midlands!