Hat-Trick History-Maker Was Another Man Of Wath
But Arthur Was Then On The Other Side Of The Touchline
Roy Swinbourne, Ron Flowers, Peter Knowles and Steve Daley are the Wolverhampton Wanderers stars we normally most associate with the amazing Wath Wanderers production line of old.
Among those we could add to the highly distinguished list are Barry Stobart, Bob Hatton, Gerry Taylor, Ken Knighton, John Galley and, of course, the man who started and ‘oiled’ the conveyor belt of talent, Mark Crook.
The name of Arthur Hetherington is not one that trips as easily off the tongue – and not just because of its length and extra syllables. The long-time left-winger, also known as Jack or John, pre-dated this amazing institution but followed a worthy rather than spectacular Molineux career by going to Wath to help the development of lads there.
And he had by then made a famous imprint on Molineux history on the pitch by hitting a First Division hat-trick against Huddersfield in six minutes.
Thanks to friends in South Yorkshire, we can piece together various other bits of the life of a man who was born in Rotherham a few weeks after Wolves’ shock victory over Newcastle in the FA Cup final of 1908.
After playing locally in Yorkshire for Dalton & Eastwood (with his brother Percy) and Midland League clubs Mexborough Athletic and Denaby United, Hetherington signed for Major Frank Buckley’s Wolves in the 1928-29 Second Division season, making his debut in the February in a 2-1 defeat at Southampton.
Having been brought here as cover and competition in the no 11 role for Tom Baxter, he started to make the jersey his own in more than a dozen outings at the end of a campaign that finished with the club in a disappointing 17th place.
Hetherington, who lost his place for three months after the following season had started badly, reclaimed his spot and scored the first seven of his 24 Wolves goals amid the rise to a more pleasing ninth position.
But he found himself squeezed out almost totally by Billy Barraclough for the 1931-32 season that ended with the club promoted as champions and it was in the top flight that he reinvented himself as a goal-grabbing inside-forward.
He went on Wolves’ first overseas tour – the sometimes stormy visit to France in 1933 – and then underlined the success of his change of position by hitting that historic treble in a few blinks of an eye shortly after the half-hour mark of a 5-2 home win over Huddersfield on September 23 of that year.
It is believed to be the fastest hat-trick in Wolves’ history but the player nevertheless had another fling on the wing before joining Preston for £3,000 mid-way through 1934-35 and becoming a team-mate of Bill Shankly.
And a treasured keepsake of that Deepdale connection has featured in the emails we have shared with Sheffield-based football historian Chris Eyre.
“Arthur’s son, also named Arthur and a decent winger in his own right, lived opposite me for many years and we used to talk football,” he said. “He died a few years ago and his wife moved into a nursing home.
“One day, I saw a relative emptying their house and said I knew Arthur had a large Preston team photo (15in x 11in) containing all the players’ autographs round the side, those of Arthur Snr and Bill Shankly among them.
“I indicated that it was a rare item of football history and should not be destroyed. When his wife died a few years later, his family dropped off a black bin liner with various things in it for me to do what I wanted with. There were press cuttings on his football life and quite a few photos, mainly Wolves-connected.”
Chris informs us that Hetherington’s playing career also included a £550 move to Swindon in 1936-37 and one of £500 to Watford in February, 1938 before the war cost him most of the rest of his career.
He was by no means finished with the game, though, and after enlisting for the war effort, is thought to have played for RAF Sleap, based ten miles north of Shrewsbury.
He became manager of Rotherham’s Northern Intermediate League team in the late 1950s or early 1960s and then, with a relative, ran Wolves’ team in the same league from Wath in the middle of the 1960s.
“I spoke recently with a player who was managed by Arthur at Rotherham who said what a nice person he was,” added Chris Eyre. “He never raised his voice but was always in full control of the situation.
“In 1954, Arthur Jnr played for Halifax Reserves in the Midland League and was living in Rotherham by that time, so the family must have moved back to the South Yorkshire area. I don’t think he made it as a footballer as I believe he went to work in the steel works.”
Chris is the long-time secretary of a charity football competition in Rotherham and plans to sell the photos, which include ten different-sized photos of Wolves’ trip to Nice in 1933 and various individual player photos taken at Molineux to raise money for that.
If any of our readers wish to know more about the pictures, please email us and we will either help directly or make the relevant connections.
Arthur ‘Jack’ Hetherington died in 1977 in his late 60s.