A Derby Interloper At Afternoon Training
From the strange-but-true files comes a story of what one of Brian Clough’s most tried and trusted campaigners got up to once training was done.
Not only did he pop over to Wolverhampton to see a friend and distant relative – he actually used to join in with kickabouts among members of the Molineux squad.
John O’Hare was a title winner at both Derby and Nottingham Forest and even played for Old Big ‘Ead at Sunderland and Leeds as well. But who knows how these trips from East Midlands to West Midlands would have gone down?
“Evan Williams married a cousin of mine, so we are sort of related and he was at Wolves not long after they returned to the First Division in the late 1960s,” the former Scottish international told us.
“I used to pop over to see him when I could and joined in a few times with the five-a-side games a few of their lads would have in that massive Social Club next to the ground.
“I would say it happened half a dozen times….they were just kickabouts; what players like to have when the hard work is done.”
But what if this outstanding target man of a centre-forward had been injured while having fun behind what were essentially enemy lines?
“I never gave it a moment’s thought to be honest,” he added. “You could get injured doing anything really – they were just friendly games that happened to take place while I was there to see Evan. Football was not as serious then.
“I remember John Holsgrove being involved and also Frank Munro as he was in the Scottish squad, like me, for plenty of games.
“We always had high regard for so many of their players. We had some terrific games against Wolves in that era. It was always a challenge against Mike Bailey, Derek Dougan, John Richards, Mike Bailey and so many others.”
O’Hare, now 75 and still resident in the East Midlands, has another very obvious and very good reason to be grateful to those at Molineux.
This good friend of Alan Hinton’s was part of the Derby squad who were holidaying in Majorca in May, 1972 when Wolves’ infamous win over Leeds, plus a draw in the Arsenal v Liverpool game on the same night, left them as champions.
But O’Hare, who had already won a Player of the Year award at the Baseball Ground, was on the receiving end when serving as substitute for Clough’s Forest in their 1980 League Cup final defeat against John Barnwell’s Wanderers.
He has two other gold and black connections. He was in digs with Danny Hegan as a youngster at Sunderland and is from the same part of Scotland, Vale of Leven, as Malcolm Finlayson – a Wolves legend he was delighted to meet once when stopping over at a hotel in Stoke.