Playing The Waiting Game
Keeper’s Patience Was Only Partially Answered
We promised last week when Charles Bamforth posted his story on here about Dennis Parsons that he already had a connected follow-up article written. Here is his look at the career of another post-war Wolves keeper for whom spells in the shadows were even longer.
Dennis Parsons waiting four years for his first-team chance might have seemed like a lifetime to him. Ted Elliot had to wait a heck of a lot longer.
It was seven and a half years until he got the nod in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ goal at the ripe old age of 27.
Elliot was signed by Frank Buckley, given his Division One chance by Ted Vizard and shown the door by his former playing colleague, Stan Cullis, with his career, like that of so many others, having been derailed by World War Two.
Ted was born in May, 1919 and his elder brother (by seven years), Bob, was a winger with their home-town club, Carlisle, as well as with Preston, New Brighton, Bath and Aldershot.
Young Ted signed for the Cumbrians in 1937 and played 15 second-team games, then 11 for the seniors at a club struggling at the bottom end of Division Three (North).
Carlisle conceded 111 goals in 1938-39, far more than any other club in the country. But that didn’t deter Wolves.
February 24, 1939, was a hectic day at Molineux. Carlisle manager David Taylor accompanied both Elliot and 21-year-old left-back John Sanderson to the West Midlands to meet the legendary Major Buckley and then sign.
Sanderson never played for the Wolves but went on to serve Luton and Berwick while reserve centre-half William Booth headed out of Molineux to Port Vale on this same date and would later join Cardiff and then the team of his birthplace, Brighton.
The fourth man on the move was Albert Hayes, who was being signed by Wolves for a second time from Brithdin in his native Glamorgan. Not in either of his stints with the club did he play a senior game.
Finally and most notably, Wolves offloaded Herbert Barlow. The Yorkshire miner had been signed from Barnsley but only featured three times in the senior side before being transferred to Portsmouth. Just over eight weeks later, he scored Pompey’s opener in their 4-1 crushing of the mighty Wolves in the FA Cup final.
Within months came a halt to formal proceedings due to the outbreak of war. Elliot, who had been third choice behind Alex Scott and Cyril Sidlow in his first few months at Molineux, joined the Navy.
When military duties permitted, he played for Carlisle as a guest, alongside Sanderson. He also appeared for Glentoran in Northern Ireland but never for Wolves in their scratch teams through the years of conflict, 12 other men taking on the goalkeeping task, with Sidlow appearing the most.
Fast forward to August 31, 1946, and the opening day of the first full season after the resumption of football as we know it.
The younger Bert Williams was in the first team hosting Arsenal at Molineux. Elliot was out of the limelight with the reserves at Manchester City.
Less than a month later, Elliot’s big opportunity came. In a Monday night game at home to Grimsby, he stepped in for Williams but did not have much to do as the points were secured by two unchallenged goals from Jesse Pye. Ted kept his place for wins against Portsmouth and Everton before the great England man returned.
In 1947-48, Elliot deputised four times – in a win against Huddersfield, draws with Arsenal and Chelsea and, in his last game for the club on February 21, a 4-2 loss at Molineux against Everton.
Just days before, the Daily News had written: “When Williams recovers… such has been the brilliance of Elliot that he cannot easily be passed over for selection.” Although the match report mentions plenty of Elliot saves, it seems that he was badly out of position on a couple of occasions. Williams returned.
Tony Matthews wrote in his Golden Greats series of books: “Strong armed, with good positional sense, Ted had a useful kick, but perhaps chose to punch the ball far more frequently than necessary.”
With Dennis Parsons and Nigel Sims advancing their claims, it was time for Ted Elliot to move on after only seven matches in search of first-team football. On October 22, 1948, Chester paid £2,000 for him. That would be more than £75,000 in today’s money.
He took over at Sealand Road from Jim Maclaren, the brother of mid-1960s Wolves keeper Dave. As Unlucky Jim was moving, ironically, to Carlisle, Ted embarked on a run as regular first choice that lasted until early in 1950-51, when he was replaced by young Harry Threadgold and thus consigned to the reserves in the Cheshire County League.
In November, 1950, he moved to Halifax, who, like Chester, were perennial strugglers in Division Three (North). He played 33 games in two seasons to add to his 59 appearances at Chester.
There was a bone of contention between the Shaymen and the keeper at the start of 1951-52, with Elliot determined to live in the family home in Carlisle. He did re-sign but it was to be the 32-year-old’s final few weeks in the Football League. There is no mention of him plying his goalkeeping trade any further.
Elliot died in his home town in September, 1984.