Alan Hinton and Ted Farmer have savoured an hour-long trans-Atlantic phone call – and vowed not to leave it as long next time!
The two sons of the Black Country broke into Wolves’ first team in successive seasons and quickly made a major impact on top-flight football as well as in age-group internationals.
But Hinton’s departure to the East Midlands came following the start of Farmer’s well-chronicled injury problems and the two drifted apart after going their separate ways.
“It must be more than 50 years since we spoke,” Ted said today. “I had hoped to meet up with him on one of his visits over here but it hasn’t happened yet.
“If we have spoken since we were together at Wolves, it was only when he was playing for Nottingham Forest or Derby. We agreed we shouldn’t leave it longer than 50 days between calls from now on.”
The duo were part of a strong local heartbeat to the early 1960s Wolves, with Johnny Kirkham, Bobby Thomson, George Showell, Gerry Harris, Bobby Mason, Norman Deeley and John Harris among others born in the immediate area.
Farmer, from Rowley Regis, recalls playing Birmingham League (third team) football with Wednesbury-born Hinton and his dramatic introduction to Stan Cullis’s senior side via a two-goal contribution to a win at Manchester United in the autumn of 1960 was followed by the winger making the same step up for an FA Cup tie against Huddersfield that winter.
“Alan tended to keep in the background as a youngster and would sulk on occasions but it struck me on the phone how confident he now is,” Farmer added.
“He seems content and happy in his life and has obviously enjoyed living and working in America.
“He and Johnny Kirkham were as good friends as I had at Wolves after Phil Kelly and Johnny Harris – I remember three of us, including Alan, going to a coffee bar Johnny’s mom had over a betting shop in Cleveland Street in town.
“Alan was the best two-footed winger I knew and could cross a lovely ball with his left foot. He reckoned I was the bravest centre-forward he played with, so we had something good going between us!
“In my book, I used a photo of several of us with our wives or wives-to-be on our knees and Alan and me learned our wives have the same birthday.
“There is also a photo somewhere of him scoring and us both celebrating when we won at Highbury on the first day of the 1963-64 season and Billy Wright was Arsenal manager.”
Given Hinton’s many decades of coaching, working and residing in America, it’s tempting to assume he fell in love with the country when on tour there and in Canada with Wolves in 1963.
But he missed that end-of-season marathon as he was away with England under-23s and scored a hat-trick against Yugoslavia in Belgrade before lining up alongside Bobby Thomson and Ernie Hunt (then at Swindon) when the second of the games took the squad to Bucharest for a clash with Rumania.
Hinton had top-scored for Wolves in that 1962-63 season, his 19 goals doing much to help the club to a final placing of fifth.