Charles Mason was the first Wolves’ first player to represent his country, John Brodie was their first international goalscorer and Richard Baugh received his initial England call-up shortly BEFORE moving to the club from Stafford Road railway works team.
As if to underline that football was a rather different game then, another Wanderers man, Robert Topham, was an amateur when capped at the highest level and Arthur Lowder followed a club-and-country career by serving as chairman of Brewood parish council.
This is just a small cross section of the huge insight long-time Molineux regular Bob Bannister has shared in his new publication, Wolves’ England Internationals.
The Wolverhampton-born author was inspired to write this, his third book, after Conor Coady was first selected by Gareth Southgate but can trace his love of the club back to the late 1940s. And many of the gems he has unearthed date back much further than that.
We learn the identity of the first Wanderers player to grace the Wembley turf, the wing-half who cost a golden sovereign from Willenhall Pickwick and went on to serve the club for 34 years and of the England career of Harry Allen, a man who played in two FA Cup finals and captained Wolves in the one in which he hit the only goal.
We are also reminded of the fact that Nantwich Road in Crewe and the Ulster Cricket Ground in Belfast were among the venues these patriotic pioneers performed at for their countries but this is a book for all seasons and eras, not just for the game’s beginnings.
Molineux, no less, twice hosted England games long before Wembley was built and, in one of those, when Wolves’ Tom Baddeley was in goal against the Irish, Southampton’s George Molyneux was at left-back!
There is a section on each of Wolves’ 36 England internationals (those that have won caps while with the club) and because one of them just happened to play more than 100 times for his country, some 110 of the 350 pages are dedicated to him.
The vast expense of text on the incomparable Billy Wright is followed by substantial pieces on ten players who also did much to define the post-war decade and a half as Molineux’s glory years and were team-mates of his at the top of the First Division.
But Bannister, who remains a Steve Bull Stand season ticket holder despite living in Coventry, does not overlook those that could be described as bit-part England internationals; among them Chris Crowe, Alan Hinton and John Richards, the latter of whom is widely considered to have received a rough hand from Sir Alf Ramsey.
Wolves had not had a player in the England side for seven years between Ron Flowers (just before the 1966 World Cup finals) and Richards and the wait for further three lions recognition stretched much further after that.
Emlyn Hughes was at Molineux when his international career ended in 1980 but Steve Bull, in 1989, was the next cab off the rank. Then the phone lines from Lancaster Gate and other FA offices went quiet until Matt Jarvis played one England game – as substitute in a friendly with Ghana.
Which brings us to Conor Coady. The admirable Wolves skipper made his debut in Copenhagen, the very city in which Bully went on for his country as a Third Division player and where Billy left the rank-and-file before embarking on his 70-game run as national captain.
Coady answered Bannister’s request positively when a writer of the foreword was being sought and he signed his piece off by saying: “The connection Wolves have with the English national team is something to be celebrated and this incredible book does that perfectly.”
Time now to add our own endorsement of this publication….it is a strong read and absolutely full of facts, revelations and fascinating anecdotes. Among the outlets selling this £15 soft-back are Amazon, Waterstone’s and Geoffrey Publications at GP Books – The home of good reading for fans of Wolves, old and new! (wolvesbooks.net)
The author is also supporting Wolves’ Former Players Association from out of the sales.