More Developments Following Award Handover
Joe Gardiner’s posthumous induction to Wolves’ hall of fame is the story that just carries on giving….
In the wake of the highly successful visit to the north-east by three members of the club’s hall of fame committee on Monday, various follow-up matters have left us feeling even more satisfied with the mission.
We reported how the award handover, by Wolves Former Players Association chairman John Richards, had been filmed and screened by BBC broadcast journalists in the Tyneside area.
And we were delighted that Midlands Today showed the same feature at length on their Tuesday programmes, even using the story as one of the two trailer items presenter Mary Rhodes used as ‘teasers’ when briefly appearing into the 6pm national news.
We know from the reaction the story provoked on social media that it was well received in this region, cartoonist Tony Eagle posting: “Great article. I met Joe quite a few times when he brought young Wolves players to our house (which was used by the club as digs).”
Philip Solomon referred to it as a ‘great story that needed telling’ while Mel Eves simply said: “Wonderful!”
We were quite happy to see that the Express & Star – represented on the hall of fame committee by Nick Elwell – picked up as well on the Wolves Heroes account of a memorable day.
Maybe this is also the right time to provide a little more background to how the story developed so well from its unpromising beginnings….
David Instone was set the task around a year ago of tracking down any members of Joe’s family and achieved partial success through potential third parties before the trail went cold.
With the search in danger of being called off, he was then persuaded by hall of fame colleagues to tap into the north-east media – but even that new direction took a considerable time to bear any fruit.
“I remember ringing the BBC in Newcastle, hoping to speak to someone on local radio and get John Richards on air to publicise our appeal for help,” he said.
“I likened it to, say, Malcolm Macdonald or Bobby Moncur being chairman of the hall of fame committee at Newcastle or Sunderland and being made available to BBC WM for interview if they were looking for some famous old player or manager who had strong roots in the Midlands. I was sure they wouldn’t have been able to get them on fast enough.
“I sent an email and left a voice message and was very disappointed to hear nothing back from the BBC offices. It was only after our hall of fame dinner in late April that I was urged to have another try with them.
“This time, ironically, I spoke to someone late in the afternoon on the day Newcastle were playing Leicester and trying to secure their Champions League qualification. She explained that she was virtually the only person left in the office but she liked the sound of the story and promised me a call back two days later….after the hangovers had cleared!
“No sooner had I been introduced to one of her colleagues, Martin Lindsay, than he rang back to say that he had carried out his own search on social media and had quickly found Joe’s nephew, John Gardiner.
“Martin was absolutely brilliant and very apologetic that my initial email and voice message had been overlooked. The story grabbed his interest and he promised us a good show on TV and radio up there if we were travelling up to present the award. And he was very true to his word.”
Amid the flurry of emails and photo exchanges that have followed our visit to the north-east, one comment from the Molineux museum’s Peter Crump hit just the right note. He signed off his thank-you to our new friends by saying: ‘There’s only one Joe Gardiner!”
And, as our last word, how about this? Those who haven’t yet managed to catch up on TV or the Internet with the BBC’s broadcast of the story may not realise that ten-year-old Jamie Gardiner – Joe’s great, great nephew – was interviewed on camera. He has had a pleasant extra task since as well that reflects his new-found fame – signing an autograph for eight-year-old sister Amelie.