Dear Diary Entry 124

Memories Of A Legend

Bill Slater…..what a man he was!

Saturday, January 8: Can’t believe it is three years this month since the funeral of Bill Slater. Three years since Express & Star writer John Lalley and I set off from Wolverhampton in the dark and joined the gathering paying respects to a thoroughly unique man. En route, a mile or two from the venue, we saw the new Brentford ground going up brick by brick and would both love to have been planning a visit there when Wolves face another of Bill’s former clubs in a fortnight.

Saturday, January 15: Said a different sort of farewell to Dave Merrington when we chatted in the John Hendley media suite before Wolves’ victory over Southampton this afternoon. Dave has been a fixture at Saints games for many years in his role as an expert summariser for local radio in the Solent area but has decided that this season will be his last on the road. He has tired of the travelling – no great surprise given the location of a club he used to manage – so maybe it will require a trip down south to see Wolves’ late-1990s chief scout in future. Chris Iwelumo was also among us today in the category marked ‘usual suspects’.

Wednesday, January 18: Was pleased to receive an email from the club asking me to compile the Perfect Player piece that appears near the back of the match-day programme. For many years and largely under the radar, I wrote four articles in every programme and it will be nice to be able to be much more imaginative for this one. Plenty of time to think as it for the Arsenal game on the night of February 10.

Sunday, January 23: Woke up to the unwelcome news of a fire at Molineux during the early hours. Just as well that we are in another sizeable break between home games – fingers crossed the damage is not too serious and it can be repaired quickly.

Monday, January 24: Received a lovely phone call out of the blue from Les Wilson to say thank-you for the publication yesterday of the article he fed us about the day he was given a lift back to the bosom of his family on Manchester United’s team coach. We are in email contact with Vancouver two or three times a week and have recently received some super photographs of the Wilsons dog-walking in deep snow. The trans-Atlantic messaging often takes in Alan Hinton and his co-author Charles Bamforth as well.

Thursday, January 27: Talk about the former Wolves, Derby and England winger’s autobiography brings us to another expert exponent of the same on-field trade, Terry Wharton. We paid his home in Brewood a quick visit today to deliver one of the copies of Triumph & Tragedy that we were given a few weeks ago to distribute in person to two of Hinton’s closest Molineux allies.

Keith Pritchett (left) with Graham Taylor and Darren Bazeley at a reunion event at Watford.

Sunday, January 30: Poor Danny Batth. If he thought life was going to become much easier now he has dropped into League One with Sunderland after three years at Stoke, he might already be having a rethink. The 31-year-old former Wolves captain scored an own goal in the 6-0 nightmare at Bolton yesterday in only his second game for his new club and then heard of the sacking of Lee Johnson in what, from a distance, appears to be one of the more crackers managerial dismissals of the season.

Tuesday, February 1: Have been enjoying an email exchange with former Wolves reserve Keith Pritchett after he emailed us from New Zealand to say: “I read the article on Les Wilson’s bus trip to Manchester and it brought back a memory from 1975. I did not play in the first team in my two years at at Wolves but played four times in the top flight for QPR. The second was at home to Wolves and we won. At the time, I was travelling back to Wolverhampton after games and it was mooted that day that I might come back on the Wolves coach but Bill McGarry refused the request. Fortunately, Sammy Chung had driven to the game from a scouting mission and very kindly offered me a lift to Tettenhall. I remember the trip well as Sammy was great company and he made it clear that Bill was not a happy camper after our 2-0 win. I was duly dropped off close to my girlfriend’s (now my wife) house in Tettenhall.”

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