A Sign That You WERE There, Jim!

McCalliog’s Welcome – A Trip To Stafford

Jim McCalliog’s signature from Stafford Rangers’ Marston Road ground in July, 1969….the photo shows him celebrating a goal against Burnley a few weeks later.

We at Wolves Heroes are delighted to have played a part in producing Jim McCalliog’s imminent autobiography – and to have reminded him where his first day at the side of Bill McGarry took him.

We were flattered to be asked late in the day to prepare his Wembley Wins, Wembley Woes book for the printers and to have the chance to run an eye over the text.

And there was some surprise that he didn’t remember the match he was taken to on his first night as a Wolves player in late July, 1969.

McCalliog didn’t appear in the game as it was a friendly at Stafford Rangers and essentially a reserve fixture 24 hours after the first team had played at Bristol City.

But we know he was sat next to McGarry as a friend of ours got in touch to show that he proudly secured the autograph of the brilliant Scottish international that very night.

“I don’t have any recollection of seeing the younger lads playing at Stafford,” Jim tells us. “I can recall the talks I had with Bill McGarry and have written about those and the fact I also met Stan Cullis to discuss a possible move to Birmingham.

“My debut was another friendly at home to Kilmarnock and then my first League game for Wolves was at home to Stoke. But I will have to take your word about going to Stafford, especially if I was signing autographs there!”

Rangers were in the Northern Premier League in those pre-Conference days and were delighted when the visit of Wolves drew an attendance of 2,349.

We didn’t know it at the time but the Wolves team who were beaten 3-1 contained some very significant names……Kenny Hibbitt, John McAlle and John Richards.

Also in there were Alan Boswell, Jimmy McVeigh, Dave Galvin, Derek Clarke, Paul Walker, Jimmy Seal and Bertie Lutton, the latter of whom scored Wolves goal in the 26th minute – at a time when they were already three down.

Rangers’ scorers – for those readers who remember their players from more than half a century ago – were Phil Weston, Keith Mottershead (penalty) and Ray Williams.

But the Express & Star reporter who approached McGarry afterwards for a comment about the game was disappointed. The manager’s response was: “We don’t talk about these things. It was only the second team.”

Paul Walker….a busy pre-season time in 1969.

Curiously, given that the photo of the signing of the £70,000 McCalliog appeared on the back of the paper on the day of the Stafford game, news of another bid came to light within a few days.

The night before the July 31 match with Rangers, McGarry had used the 1-1 draw at Bristol City – where McAlle and Walker went on as substitutes and where Wolves were saved from defeat by a twice-taken Peter Knowles penalty – to make a £60,000 offer for home forward Chris Garland.

Nothing came of that matter and the Bristolian, who was born six days before Cullis’s Wolves won the 1949 FA Cup final, scored a match-winning hat-trick for Leicester against McGarry’s men in the second half of 1975.

McCalliog will have a keen eye on tomorrow’s Molineux meeting of two of his former clubs and is planing to be in Wolverhampton for several days early in September to sign copies of his book at organised sessions.

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