Charlie Bamforth continues his trawl of former Wolves men living abroad by turning to Spain and homing in on a player with divided sporting interests
Phil Parkes bowled mean and quick and Ron Flowers brought as much Yorkshire grit to the cricket pitch as he did to the old gold, approached as he was to play at county level.
But, whereas Lofty and Flowers became Wolves legends, Ian Hall achieved far more in white flannels than ever he did at Molineux. And yet, as a youngster, he seemed destined to reach the very top in the winter game.
Born in Sutton Scarsdale in north-east Derbyshire on December 27, 1939, Ian was a bright child.
“For most of the 1950s, I was at grammar school, first in Mansfield and, from 1953 onwards, near Chesterfield,” he says.
“I played for Mansfield Boys when I was 12 and then for two years played for Chesterfield Boys. We reached the semi-final of the English Schools Shield in 1955 and drew 1-1 with Swansea Boys in front of 18,500 at Saltergate.
“Three days later, I played at Wembley for England Boys against Wales. The attendance was 95,000 and I was due to take penalties! We didn’t get one but I score in a 6-1 victory. The following Tuesday, we played Swansea in the replay at the Vetch Field with 18,000 present. We lost 0-2.
“Of the England Boys team I played in, three lads joined Manchester United: Alex Dawson, Mark Pearson and Reg Holland. I joined Wolves. United sent assistant manager Jimmy Murphy to speak to my father and myself at the end of that 1955 season but Wolves’ legendary manager Stan Cullis himself came to our house in Ashover. That impressed my father, a junior school head teacher, who had played a few matches for Grimsby in the immediate post-war years.
“United wanted a guarantee that I would sign professional when I turned 17. But I intended going on to sixth form to take A levels and had an eye on an amateur international cap, much as Bill Slater had achieved. So Wolves it was.
“For three seasons, I travelled to Wolverhampton by train on Friday night, or by car with my father on Saturday mornings, to play in either the A team in the Birmingham League or the B team in the Worcestershire Combination.
“When necessary on Friday nights and throughout school holidays, I lodged at Eddie Clamp’s mother’s house 100 yards down Waterloo Road. Her cooking was legendary. Maurice Kyle and Roy Poole were permanent residents but there was also a constant stream of trialists from various parts of the country, including the Wath Wanderers nursery in Yorkshire.
“Barry Stobart was an early resident and we even had a Hungarian under-23 international who had fled the country during the Russian invasion in 1956.”
Trainer Joe Gardiner was the first man the young Hall encountered at Wolves. “At a deserted Molineux late one afternoon, soon after my father and I had met chief scout George Noakes and secretary Jack Howley, Joe said: ‘Show me a trick.’
“Jack Davies had found me some kit. Now here was the ball rolling towards me and Joe was smiling encouragement. I have often wondered about that moment. Wolves were supposedly a long ball outfit, based on physical power and supreme fitness, yet Joe didn’t tell me to run round the pitch or kick the ball 40 yards.
“First impressions are important and stick in the mind. Joe was a lovely man. Years later, my wife Angela and saw him at a service station on the M6. He was just the same and I have always remembered the way he introduced me to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“The following day was the start of pre-season training. I met Billy Wright, who I was detailed to shadow for the next few days to learn the ropes. He was England captain and an all-time great. I was a naive 15-year-old but Bill treated me as though I was an equal.
“Training was ferocious – Aldersley Stadium in the morning for running with Olympic sprinter Peter Radford, ‘kicking’ in the afternoon, often at the Co-op ground, Sunray treatment on Wednesday mornings, massages on Fridays. Legs like jelly!
“We didn’t see much of Stan Cullis at training. Sometimes the word went round that he was there and the tempo increased a notch until the message came that he’d gone.
“It is well documented that strong discipline was a feature of his rule. Everyone had a small book of club rules; reporting times, permission required to drive a car, no drinking after Wednesday, that sort of thing. It was thought Mr. Cullis had spies all around Wolverhampton who would report back to him if anyone was fooling about.
“There was a signing-in book outside his office door, with a pencil on a chain. At 9.45, that book disappeared and woe betides anyone whose name was not signed in: an automatic fine.
“His attention to detail was impressive. One day he called me out of training. ‘I’ve been watching you,’ he said. ‘When you walk down the pavement in future, try to walk along the straight lines where the paving stones join. It will help to keep your toes turned inwards. Stanley Matthews’ toes turn inwards and he is the quickest off the mark there has ever been.’ I actually played against Matthews once. His toes did turn inwards!
“In May 1958, I played in the FA Youth Cup winning team that overturned a 1-5 deficit from the first-leg of the final at Chelsea into a truly memorable 6-1 victory in the second leg. What an atmosphere!
“It was 4-0 at half-time and Ted Farmer scored all four. John Kirkham sent tracer-like long passes all round the field. Des Horne turned Ken Shellito inside out. Jimmy Greaves and Barry Bridges hardly had a kick between them. When news of the half-time score filtered up to town, it was estimated that up to 2,000 more turned up for the second half. They weren’t disappointed.
“Cliff Durandt scored twice and, although Greaves scored for Chelsea, the trophy was ours. I don’t know how well I played in midfield but I must have done all right. Passengers were not an option and pride was at stake.
“Even after the mauling at Stamford Bridge, where Stan Cullis gave our captain Granville Palin a real ticking-off and most of us stayed in the shower, we felt we could score against them. But we also thought they could score against us.
“The first team, who had travelled to London with us by train, flew to Switzerland on tour and Cullis wasn’t at the second leg. I can’t remember what was said before we went out but, knowing Bill Shorthouse, it would have very much to the point. Fired up? We left the dressing room like shots from a gun. Despite the 4-0 scoreline, we were shattered at half-time. Oxygen was available in the dressing room. I’d never had oxygen before.
“In the summer of 1958, I played for England Youths in Switzerland and Austria. Les Cocker was a colleague and the captain was Bobby Moore. Les and I had encountered Moore when he captained London Youth FA against Staffordshire Youth FA in the County Youth Association Trophy final. Greaves also played but we won 8-2 over two legs.”
Having passed his A levels, Hall was offered a place at Loughborough Colleges. “Because National Service was ending, I had to wait until September, 1959 before taking up the offer from Loughborough,” he added. “Had I been born three months earlier, I would have to have done National Service. All students previously had to do that before going to university or teacher training college.”
However, Ian Hall’s horizons featured cricket as much as football and a possible teaching career.
“Both my parents were from Sheffield and, post-war, I was brought up on a diet of Sheffield Wednesday and Yorkshire cricket. Being born in Derbyshire meant I did not qualify to play cricket for Yorkshire but, as a young boy armed with my sandwiches, I watched Derbyshire play for many hours at the beautiful Queen’s Park ground in Chesterfield.
“My father was a good local cricketer and captain of Matlock Cricket Club, so it was natural I played cricket as well as football. Eventually I progressed to Derbyshire under-18s and to a few matches with Derbyshire 2nds in 1958. The upshot was I was offered a 20-week contract for 1959 season at £9 per week. Effectively, I had the choice between a teaching career and security on one hand and £180 on the other. It was no contest. The question was: What was I to do in the winter?
“Wolves had a cricket team who played charity matches against local clubs in summer and quite a number of them were useful, including Roy Swinbourne, Ron Flowers and Bill Slater, who was good enough to play for Warwickshire 2nds. Many others were enthusiastic, including Billy Wright, and the cricket team were a very popular attraction in the area.
“Although Stan Cullis liked cricket and sometimes played, he wasn’t keen if it interfered with football. The potential for conflict was clear, so, at the end of the summer of 1958, I turned down the offer of a professional contract at Molineux and offered my services to Derby County.
“Harry Storer was manager and had played football for Burnley, Derby and England as well as cricket for Derbyshire. My father and I reasoned that he would have greater sympathy and understanding of a dual sporting career than Cullis. Combining the two closer to home would also be beneficial.
“So I joined Derby, though not as a professional at first. Or at least not officially. I still hankered after an amateur international cap to go with my schoolboy and youth honours, so in 1958-59 I was listed as working in the office. In fact, I never went in the office except for my wages!
“Half way through the following cricket season, I made my debut for Derbyshire against Middlesex at Lords. It meant I had played at Wembley and Lords before I was 20. I made a duck opening in the second innings, caught behind by John Murray off John Warr, and I didn’t walk. In those days, you walked if you edged the ball but I was straight off the village green really and no-one walked there. John Langridge, the umpire, gave me every chance but eventually had to give me out. He came to the dressing room afterwards and issued a few words of advice.
“For young players in sport, trying to make their way in an extremely competitive environment, the ability to take a chance is crucial. The senior player I replaced, Charlie Lee, told me it was club policy to give young batsmen three matches to prove themselves. I was always grateful for that bit of information. Against Kent at Canterbury, I made eight and nought, caught by Godfrey Evans. At Derby, against Leicestershire, I made 11 and 11. Things were getting desperate. Derbyshire v Hampshire at the County Ground, Derby was next. I made 113. It was my ninth innings in first-class cricket and I became the youngest Derbyshire player to make a first-class century. It was a record that stood for more than 50 years until 2010.
“I also signed professional forms for Derby County in 1959 and made my debut against Bristol City at the Baseball Ground in the old Second Division. In 1962, Storer, who was a mentor of Brian Clough, was succeeded by Tim Ward. The first thing he did was transfer me to Mansfield Town, whose manager was his former team-mate, Raich Carter. The fee was £2,500. In 1993, when Tim founded the Derby County Former Players’ Association, Raich became the first president and I was secretary for 12 years.
“I didn’t particularly enjoy football at Derby, largely due to the pitch, which was a quagmire for most of the winter. Before one match against Ipswich, the referee Arthur Ellis came into the dressing room. ‘I’ll have to put this match off,’ he announced. ‘We’ll start the game to get the crowd in and then I’ll put it off after 20 minutes.’ Of, course we didn’t know whether he would actually do that, so we had to play properly. He did though! We were leading 2-1. When the fixture was played again late in the season, Ipswich, under Alf Ramsey, won 4-1.
“In a League Cup tie, Matt Crowe of Norwich took a penalty and shot along the floor. The ball pulled up like it was on an elastic rope and our goalkeeper walked out and picked it up. The pitch was more suited to horses than footballers.
“I enjoyed my time at Mansfield. We gained promotion from the Fourth Division in my first season and in 1964-65 missed promotion to the Second Division on goal average. Harry Middleton, who was at Wolves when I was there, scored 16 goals in 24 matches after joining from Shrewsbury. I went back to Molineux in September, 1966 for a League Cup tie (Wolves’ first ever). Wolves were then in the Second Division and beat us 2-1.
“After the match, Wolves’ chairman, John Ireland, who was a director when we had won the Youth Cup, came in and asked how I was. The gesture was symptomatic of the Wolves style in the glory years.”
In April, 1967, Hall severed an Achilles tendon at Swindon, which meant plaster for eight weeks and physiotherapy for four. He missed most of that cricket season but was back playing football in October.
“I’d already enrolled on a one-year full-time Diploma in Youth Work course in Leicester, which meant I reverted to part-time football at Mansfield. Unfortunately, because of the Achilles injury, whatever nip I had was no longer there and I left at the end of 1967-68, although I continued to play county cricket and during the winter was employed by Derbyshire County Council as a full-time Youth Leader.
“We lived in Ashby-de-la-Zouch and, rather than play football in the Southern League, which was quite attractive financially but meant a lot of travelling, I played part-time for Tamworth in the West Midlands League and for Burton. In 1972, despite batting better than I had ever done, I retired from county cricket and became a student at Birmingham University.”
Hall graduated in 1975 with a BA in Social Administration and Physical Education. The head of the physical education department was Bill Slater.
“Was that an advantage? Possibly,” he added. “It was always better to have Bill on your side than against, especially in the car park on a Friday morning when, after formal training, some extremely fierce matches took place on the ash surface. Despite his gentlemanly persona, Bill was hard as nails.
“During my second year at Birmingham, I played for a former Derby County XI in a charity match at Belper. Terry Hennessey also played. He had taken over as manager at Tamworth and asked if I would come back, so I played another two seasons at Tamworth.”
After graduating, Hall finally found himself at Loughborough Colleges to gain a one-year post-graduate teaching certificate before becoming co-ordinator of Enterprise Sky Blue, an experimental project between the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Coventry City.
“The aim was to use football to try to involve youngsters, who would otherwise not be interested, in joining the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. I was the sole employee and had an office at Highfield Road, plus a blank sheet of paper. It was an interesting experience but, 18 months after setting the project in motion, I left. It really needed someone who lived in the community, so David Moorcroft, the Olympic athlete, who was from Coventry, took over and was very successful.”
From 1977-78, Hall was on an 18-month contract at Leicester Polytechnic as a lecturer to under-graduate students in the department of performing arts.
“My subject was ‘acquisition of skill’ and, on the practical side, I coached cricket. One of my colleagues was John Hunting, who refereed an FA Cup final.”
From there, Ian moved to become secretary of Scarborough Cricket Club where, as well as coordinating Yorkshire games there, he also administered several international fixtures as well as the famous Scarborough Cricket Festival.
He was then housemaster at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Ashbourne, from 1980 to 1987 and recalls: “I was walking along a corridor one morning when the headmaster asked: ‘Can you host the Queen for lunch?’ It was 1985, which was the 400th anniversary of the school’s founding. I knew we had approached the relevant authorities for perhaps a second division royal to attend the celebrations but this was unexpected. I had about ten seconds to think whether we could cope. The Queen stayed for a couple of hours or so.”
Ian graduated with an MA from Loughborough in history and education in 1986 before taking further teaching roles at Dronfield Comprehensive School and Hasland Hall Intermediate School.
Between 1990 and 1993, he was part of Cricketcall, with a three-year contract to provide cricket commentary via telephone. “I was the Derbyshire commentator. John Gwynne, now Sky Sports’ darts commentator, was Lancashire’s representative. Each county had a commentator and a guest summariser. It meant three people at each game. Eventually companies realised that too many employees had their ears glued to the telephone!”
For the next 11 years, Hall was a freelance broadcaster/journalist with BBC Radio Derby, summarizing at football in winter and commentating on cricket in summer. He also authored Cricket at Scarborough (1992), Journey Through a Season (1997 – an account of Derby County’s first season in the Premier League), Voices of the Rams (2000 – featuring players, officials and supporters talking about Derby County) and The Legends of Derby County (2001 – highlighting 100 players who contributed to Derby County history).
“Since 2005, we have lived a few minutes’ walk from the beach on Valencia’s Orange Blossom coast. Sun and warmth for old bones! People have often asked me what it was like playing both sports for a living. ‘Hard work’ I usually reply. On one occasion, I played a three-day match against Hampshire at Southampton which finished on a Tuesday afternoon and then a Second Division match against Luton on the Wednesday evening. I never did pre-season football training, as I was always playing cricket. I had to train on my own in the evening, often having fielded most of the day. Could it be done now? No, clubs wouldn’t allow it. In any case there is too much overlap of the seasons these days.
“Which did I prefer? Football. I was more a natural footballer and found cricket harder to play. Would I have been better at one, if I had not played the other? Probably – 20 per cent perhaps. I was always treated wonderfully at Wolves but, being still at school and living a distance away, I was somewhat on the outside looking in. Football was not my whole life at that time and perhaps it needed to be so for me to be successful at Molineux. That would have been the view of Stan Cullis.”