Kings For A Day
Here’s Hoping For Another Royal Engagement
No football team have met a reigning male head of the Commonwealth for over 70 years – and, in Wolves’ case, that time span has been extended by more than another decade.
The last time a Wolves side lined up to shake hands with a king was on what proved to be a bitterly disappointing occasion on April 29, 1939, at the FA Cup final against Portsmouth.
Having challenged hard for the title while Pompey were engaged in a survival battle which ended with them in a final top-flight placing of 17th, Major Frank Buckley’s side were confidently expected to prevail at Wembley.
But the high pre-match hopes that were in place when captain Stan Cullis accompanied King George VI along the line of gold-shirted players for the introductions did not last.
Wolves crashed 4-1 and it was Pompey’s ecstatic side, including former Wanderers duo Bert Barlow and Guy Wharton, who climbed the steps to meet the monarch again two hours or so later and this time be congratulated by him.
The war saw to it that the well-worn ‘Oh well, there’s always next year’ expression did not apply for long at Molineux and it was Portsmouth, not Wolves, who had the longest-ever hold on the FA Cup – for seven years until Derby beat Charlton in the 1946 final.
As we now look forward to a new chapter in the long story of our royal family, we wonder whether King Charles will include a Cup final appearance among his duties.
His mother presented the cherished silverware to Billy Wright in 1949 after Wolves had this time got it right and overcome Leicester in the early seasons of a ‘reign’ of a different kind by Stan Cullis.
But it was the Duchess of Gloucester who handed it over to Bill Slater following the victory over Blackburn in 1960, the Duke of Gloucester having been among the dignatries introduced to the two teams some two hours earlier.
Maybe the new king’s Villa-supporting eldest son will encourage his father to be at a Cup final in the near future – and our fervent wish is that Wolves will be there, too!