A Surprise From ‘Scouse’

True Blue Who Retains A Love For Goodison

John McAlle looks on as Willie Carr slides into action against Everton in February, 1979. On the right is Norman Bell.

John McAlle’s Merseyside roots made him an obvious choice for the ‘Hanging up your boots’ feature in Wolves’ programme when Everton visited Molineux on Saturday.

Were we alone in being surprised at the revelation, though, that the Toffees’ result is the first one he looks for? Followed by that of Wolves and then the other two League clubs he played for, Derby and Sheffield United.

That link back up the A41 obviously remains strong and it’s interesting in hindsight to ponder why he chose to join Wolves in the mid-1960s when there was rival interest in him from Goodison Park.

But he has been quoted in the past as saying his uncle advised him to join a club outside the area, which explains why Liverpool also remained disappointed at missing out on him – as did Bolton, Chelsea, Burnley, Manchester United and Leeds. 

McAlle was 15 when he headed to the West Midlands to be placed in the care of a landlady in digs in the Dunstall Road area of Wolverhampton.

He was married at 18 to Jill, with whom he still lives a mile or so from RAF Cosford, so now is a good time to disclose one or two more nuggets from his childhood in Liverpool’s suburbs.

In 2017, we wrote about Ken Dodd (with his brother Billy) being the coalman to the grandparents with whom the young McAlle lived for much of his childhood in Knotty Ash.  

But now for some more football-related flashbacks….he was often a left-winger in his formative years because, as one source spelled it out, ‘he was the fastest thing around.’

‘Scouse’ faced Alun Evans – later a Wolves team-mate – in one schools match and had Dave Mackay as his hero when growing up. He set about modelling himself on the Scottish legend and that task was made easier when Bill McGarry converted him to a defensive no 6.

Imagine the thrill he felt at then facing him in Wolves games against both Tottenham and Derby as he became established as a First Division player. “He’s the greatest half-back I have ever seen play,” McAlle once said, “although I never saw Duncan Edwards.”

McAlle on the far right of the back row on a 1965 Wolves team photo. 

McAlle remembers an historic 10-4 defeat for Everton at White Hart Lane in October, 1958 – a match in which frequent Wolves nemesis Jimmy Harris scored a hat-trick. 

Around a decade later, he shared digs with right-winger John Farrington and already appeared to know he would make a clean break from the game when he stopped playing.

He visualised having his own business, most likely either a garage or a shop, although he eventually went into landscape gardening.

It has also been reported, though, that he once applied for the manager’s job at Wolves in the dark days of the mid-1980s.


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