A Well-Trodden Path

Tour Link Revives Happy Memories

Stan Cullis displays a natty line in head-wear as he is joined on the bench by Bill Shorthouse and Wolves’ substitutes at a 1963 tour match in America.

Talk of a possible Wolves tour to America this summer has had us scanning the record books for a recap on the previous times the club spread their wings in that direction.

It’s hard to believe that 30 of the 31 matches they have played in the United States took place in the space of ten years during the reigns of Stan Cullis, Ronnie Allen and Bill McGarry.

They made four visits across the Atlantic in that time – or five if we include the trek around the Caribbean in 1964 – and clearly decided to pack a lot in while they were there.

Five games (all won) were played on American soil on an end-of-season tour in 1963, as well as a quintet of fixtures north of the border in Canada.

Although Cullis would not have stood for any early close-season slacking, matches took on an even more competitive aspect four summers later when Wolves played out of Los Angeles in winning the first of two prolonged tournaments to which they were invited.

This time, they played 13 times in America (and once in Canada) in emerging victorious from by far the longest of the tours Allen led them on and they repeated the feat under McGarry two years later as Kansas City Wolves. Their nine games then brought them six wins, a draw and two defeats, the 1-1 draw with Kansas City Spurs coming in a friendly outside the tournament.

Heading west was obviously in vogue at the time, especially at Molineux, as Wolves returned there in 1972 to play three more games, plus one in Canada. On this occasion, the trio of American assignments brought the less impressive record of two defeats and a victory, the balance being redressed by a convincing win in Vancouver on the same trip.

Teenager John McAlle in action in America on a 1969 tour in which he made a fine impression.

We look forward to delving further into this aspect of Wolves history if the tour comes off this summer. The fact that the matter was aired by the reliable source that is Daily Telegraph sports reporter John Percy, though, convinces us there is some substance to the possibility.

In the meantime, as we put away David Instone’s Wolves All Over The World book for a few weeks, we list the American cities the club visited on those previous trips and wonder where they might just end up in four months or so.

1963: New York (two games), Philadelphia, St Louis, San Francisco.

1967: Houston, Los Angeles (seven games), Cleveland, Washington DC (two games, including a replay necessitated by a rules infringement), San Francisco, Dallas.

1969: Baltimore, Kansas City (five games), Atlanta, St Louis, Dallas.

1972: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles.

There was one other game Wolves played in America – a 4-1 defeat against Jacksonville Teamen in Florida in May, 1981. That can be placed in the ‘one-off’ category as it was not part of a tournament or even a tour in the recognised sense.

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