On Track For Fun And Games

Golden Memories Of New Show To Hit Town

Bill Slater…..an extraordinary man whose talents stretched well beyond the football field.

We know Bill Slater loved the Commonwealth Games. Who could serve in senior positions at British Gymnastics, Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, Lilleshall and the Sports Aid Foundation and not be utterly consumed by it?

And the daughter of the former Wolves and England wing-half has kept alive the family connections with the event over the decades during her brilliant, award-winning BBC career.

But there are other links between Molineux and the summer’s latest international spectacular – even beyond the baton-carrying duties performed en route for Birmingham in these last few days by Steve Bull and proud Wulfrunian Hugh Porter.

The Commonwealths have never been this close to the Black Country before but a famous figure from these parts, Denise Lewis, bridges 28 years of the event’s history.

Having won gold in the 1994 staging in Victoria, Canada, she was then feted before kick-off at Wolves’ home slaughter of Norwich in the autumn of 2000 after winning the Olympics heptathlon in Sydney the night before – a happy Wolverhampton weekend indeed.

Now, the Pendeford-raised, Tettenhall-educated former Wolverhampton and Bilston member, who went on to further her magnificent all-round skills at Birchfield Harriers – hosts of Thursday night’s opening ceremony – has the presidency of Commonwealth Games England on her CV.

It may be tenuous but we will happily point out at this juncture that Wolves went on to have a successful, promotion-winning season the last time the Games were in England.

And 44 years before they came to Manchester in 2002, the club were in between their two consecutive title triumphs when the jamboree took place in Cardiff in 1958.

There is one more individual we should mention, although he would probably have been flattered and even baffled about being included in this short article.

Jack Hayward with his father Charles in the days when the latter was the only Sir of the two.

The very term ‘Commonwealth’ used to fill Sir Jack Hayward with pride – even though he probably preferred to know it as the ‘Empire’.

He once spoke of how proud he felt at pointing out the ‘pink bits’ on the world map and even referred to himself as an ’empire builder’ when talking about his massive business interests in the Bahamas.

Whether he would have dropped in on Birmingham over these 11 days and taken in some of the 22nd staging as enthusiastically as he used to head for a day of the Lord’s Test Match is something we will sadly never know.