We convened through the platform the first coronavirus lockdown spawned, as the counting of the Presidential election votes was at its height.
But not a word about politics passed our lips. The chat didn’t sag long enough for us to be seeking new areas of conversation. Football saw to that.
With the Atlantic Ocean and most of the United States between us, Seattle-based Alan Hinton was opening up on the autobiography that is due to come out in the spring.
In a meeting hosted by our good mutual friend Charles Bamforth 750 miles to his north in California, he rattled through anecdotes about Derek Dougan, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton, Ted Farmer, Steve Daley, Richie Barker, Phil Parkes, Jimmy Greaves, Clough and Taylor, and the ‘class act’ that is his good friend from Nottingham Forest, John Barnwell.
There were mentions of countless others, too, leaving me with the impression that this is going to be a book with a huge reach.
For a start, it has roots in Wednesbury, a dramatic heartbeat around Molineux, the East Midlands and Vancouver and recollections of excellence in various enduring roles with Seattle Sounders and other American sides.
A lot of football supporters should want to read this story and I wouldn’t expect them for one moment to be disappointed.
He played for Stan Cullis and Brian Clough, for goodness sake……why shouldn’t the stories leap out from the pages? Oh and for Alf Ramsey, too, although it was the national manager’s indifference towards wingers from the mid-1960s that contributed to his England career being restricted to three caps – the first of them won while he was 19 and at Wolves.
“I thought it was about time I wrote my story,” Hinton said. “I think I will make a lot of people happy by telling what I have been able to accomplish.
“Charles here has been a brilliant help in the writing of it and we have had such fun putting it together.
“I have chatted to people like Kenny Hibbitt and Roy McFarland, who tell me what a thrill it is when a book you write is finished and out – and I look forward to that day a few months down the line.
“I am very proud of what I have achieved…..making myself a first-team footballer at Wolves, the club I watched as a boy, then England caps and a couple of League Championships, plus plenty of success in America.”
Sad to say, the walk-through of his life hasn’t always been enjoyable. The Hintons had the heartbreak of losing a son to cancer at nine and this site has quoted Alan before as saying he was too inclined to see life through the bottom of a glass for a while.
The title ‘Triumph And Tragedy: The Alan Hinton Story’ quickly makes sense and he added: “That one chapter about Matthew was very painful to go through…..I was glad when it was done.”
We at Wolves Heroes look forward to reading much more than the sample chapters we have seen so far and mention of the many players and other personalities to have been consulted in the writing process can’t fail to whet the appetite.
The long list includes Terry Wharton, Ray Crawford, Peter McParland, Fred Davies, Les Wilson, Phil Parkes and Bob Wilson from Wolves, although more than one of those had tales about mainly working or playing with the author in America.
Others he knew or faced elsewhere and have been spoken to for their memories are Barnwell, Bob McNab, Pat Rice, Terry Hennessey, Henry Newton, Roy McFarland, John O’Hare, Roger Davies and Alan Hudson, as well as media big-hitters Gary Newbon, Mike Ingham and Norman Giller.
A word from co-writer Charles Bamforth is also worthwhile at this point: “My first game was Bolton 3 Wolves 0 in October, 1962, on a rainy night at the old Burnden Park.
“I can reel off the Wolves side in seconds but the two things I most remember are Fred Davies’s bright green jersey and the blond-haired Wolves left-winger, Alan Hinton. He top-scored with 19 goals that season, so he quickly became a hero of mine.”
We deliberately sidestepped anything in our chat that might be classed as ‘spoilers’ but the circulated publicity talks of Hinton going home on the bus after training at Wolves and sharing a bed with his brother at the family home a few hours later. And he was a first-teamer and England international by then!
So, considering he is one of precious few people to have been closely involved in professional football for more than 60 years – at the very top as a player, coach and later ambassador – we did well to cover as much as we did in our hour on Zoom.
What a chat it was – and not a single mention of the massive world event unfolding in their country!
*’Triumph And Tragedy’ is scheduled for publication in April and readers have the opportunity to subscribe and have their (chosen) name at the back of the book, which costs £20 (postage and package in the UK will be an additional £5). For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org