A Lofty Perch….Bishop To Be Ordained, Too!

Two More Stars Heading For Precious Molineux Status

Phil Parkes…….trotting out at Molineux, accompanied – as he so often was – by John McAlle.

Phil Parkes and 1908 FA Cup final winner Alf Bishop can today be revealed as two more of the considerable group of imminent inductees to Wolves’ hall of fame.

Following last weekend’s happy announcement about Robbie Dennison and Joe Gardiner, the spotlight now switches to two men who, by huge coincidence, both played 382 competitive games for the club.

Lofty would surely have played a lot more but his introduction to senior football under Ronnie Allen came when he was in competition with Fred Davies and he then had to fend off the rival claims of Evan Williams, Alan Boswell and John Oldfield to the green jersey.

David Instone’s ‘Wolves 1970s Scrapbook’ reminds us that, a few years on, he had to win his place back from Gary Pierce no fewer than nine times, including after an ankle injury had cruelly robbed him of a place in the victorious League Cup final team of 1974.

Thank goodness he played a part in the winning of promotion and the Texaco Cup as well in that run to Wembley, in addition to doing much to help the club reach the UEFA Cup final and to semi-finals in both the FA Cup and League Cup.

We will say much more on Parkes when he appears in person at the tribute dinner on Friday, April 28 but considerably less is known by most supporters about Bishop, a defender who sits by his side in joint 16th place in the all-time appearance-makers’ list at Molineux.

The hall of fame committee set one of its members, Steve Gordos, to work on the task of broadening our knowledge of a man born in Stourbridge 137 years ago.

We knew he had played at the back with his home-town team and then for another Birmingham League side, Halesowen Town, before a move to Villa proved unfulfilling. First-team recognition remained elusive for him at a club who were then in their trophy-winning pomp.

But a new raft of information on him has now been brought to light. “Tough as they come, Alf Bishop was ‘Mr Consistent’ for Wolves in the early years of the 20th century,” the former Express & Star sports editor wrote, pointing out that he had signed at Molineux in 1905.

“Not even a broken jaw suffered at Fulham could prevent him playing in one of the club’s most famous victories (the 1908 final against Newcastle at Crystal Palace).

“Alf missed five games but was determined not to miss the final. He was declared fit for the last League game before it and was able to take his place on the big day.”

Steve informs us that Wolves remain the lowest-placed Football League team (ninth in the Second Division) to win the Cup; also that the goals in their 3-1 victory were all scored by players whose surname started with the letter ‘h’ (Hedley, Harrison and Hunt, with Howie netting for Newcastle).

Bishop is described by Gordos as ‘the cornerstone of the Wolves defence’ in the seasons up to World War I and amassed 110 consecutive League and Cup appearances in one sequence.

Playing first at right-half but later at full-back, left-half, centre-half and even centre-forward, he missed only two games in 1908-09 and was an ever-present four times.

Alf Bishop during his playing days.

Such was his standing in the dressing room despite being only 5ft 8in tall that Bishop was made captain in 1911 and, after guesting for Stoke and Merthyr during the war, he played more than 30 matches in 1919-20 before joining Birmingham League club Wrexham.

As Parkes would more than 60 years later, he was happy to take the non-League route towards retirement and joined his first club Stourbridge for a brief second spell before injuries caught up with him in his late 30s.

Alf died in 1938, aged only 54, following complications arising from angina.

In less than three weeks, he will become the fourth Wolves player born in the 19th century to be inducted into their hall of fame. The others are Jackery Jones, Billy Harrison and Jack Brodie.