A Thought To Make The Toes Curle?
Baggies Boss Pushed Hard For Wolves Skipper
Wolves fans may well remember the discomfort of hearing Albion supporters taunt them at The Hawthorns with a chant of ‘There’s only one Keith Curle’.
It wasn’t, of course, anything remotely like affection towards the visiting skipper in the cauldron of a Sunday lunchtime Black Country derby in August, 1997. It was much less complimentary than that.
Curle had just scored an own goal to settle the early-season meeting of the clubs in Mark McGhee’s last full season and was made to endure the derision that came with it.
But we can reveal that the player might well have crossed the Black Country divide and lined up in blue and white long before he joined Sheffield United and formed an enduring relationship with Bramall Lane boss Neil Warnock.
This disclosure comes from none other than the man who attempted to take him to The Hawthorns, the then Albion manager Denis Smith.
Some two decades on from his time in charge, Smith has revealed that he tried to shore up his leaky Baggies defence with the acquisition of Tottenham’s Colin Calderwood, who subsequently went to Villa instead.
“The club blocked it despite the fact Villa ended up paying less for him,” the 74-year-old is quoted as saying in the From Buzaglo To Balis book written by Chris Lepkowski.
“What really annoyed me is that I hadn’t been greedy and had always ben respectful over the club’s decisions on recruitment. But that one really annoyed me because it was close to happening.
“Likewise Keith Curle. He’d have improved us, too. He was on a Bosman free transfer (in the summer of 2000). I thought we could get him done but again the club wouldn’t allow it. That was a big disappointment.”
Curle joined Wolves from Manchester City for £650,000 in the summer of 1996 and, having then been ruled out for several months by injury, played one of his first senior matches for the club when he lined up in a 3-1 win at home to Albion in mid-season.
From Molineux and Sheffield, he moved on to Barnsley and Mansfield before embarking on a managerial career spent exclusively in the lower divisions.
At the side of Warnock, though, he did sample the delight of winning promotion from the Championship to the Premier League with QPR in 2011.