Here’s To Our Past

And Another Get-Together MUCH Sooner Next Time!

Clive Ford on signing duty at the request of John Southall. On some computer systems, a click on the photos will enlarge them.

Some of them made it big, some had decent careers elsewhere and some drifted quickly into non-League. But these somebodys certainly had something about them.

For 50 years, they had been apart – at least in the group sense – but were reunited for several memorable hours yesterday to chew over old times.

They were nervous about meeting again and there were one or two puzzled frowns initially when it came to identification. Well, where CAN you find some decent name tags when you need them?

But the wine wasn’t the only thing to flow among these ‘last of the Cullis Cubs’. The conversation did, too.

“In quite a few cases, we hadn’t seen each other for 30, 40 or even 50 years,” said Terry Wharton in a corner of Billy’s Boot Room as Saturday night at Molineux turned into Sunday morning. “But you spend ten minutes with someone you were good mates with in your youth and their face comes back to you. So do a lot of the memories.”

Wharton, Phil Parkes, Graham Hawkins and Fred Kemp have been big enough parts of Wolverhampton’s football fabric to have stayed in touch and been invited back to the club on regular occasions. Others had drifted to the edges of the collective memory in these parts.

Freddie Goodwin played 47 times for Wolves at the start of a career of 400-plus games, Jim Barron remains a well-known face on the circuit as a scout for today’s Molineux visitors Everton, John Galley and Clive Ford had decent League careers and Gordon Roberts (with Bury), Terry Thompson (Notts County), Vic Povey (Notts County) and Graham Newton sampled life with the big 92 as well.

Not so John Southall, who trained only on Tuesday and Thursday nights at a time when Lofty was also an amateur, nor yesterday’s chief organiser John Doughty or Ray Aggio. They had to settle for non-League but, happily, are three of several in the group to have done well in business.

Doughty was a wonderful host, not only playing background music from their days as lads together around Wolverhampton but serving drinks and afternoon tea with his wife Jackie and also organising a display of memorabilia.

Express & Star coverage of the 3-0 thrashing of Chelsea that put Wolves into the 1962 FA Youth Cup final. Peter Knowles, Vic Povey and Freddie Goodwin scored and John Galley netted the side's only goal of the final.

Photos, newspaper reports and scrapbooks came from far and wide with the guests, who naturally wanted copies of the cherished bits they had mislaid. Southall had added his own nice touch by drafting 16 copies of a form, which everyone signed and then had one of.

The do was arranged for yesterday to coincide with the FA Youth Cup final Wolves contested with Newcastle 50 years ago this week, the side having thrashed 1960 and 1961 holders Chelsea in the semi-final.

A 1-1 draw at Molineux in the first leg in front of 13,916 left the Magpies with the edge and, watched by 20,688, they took advantage by winning at St James’ Park by the only goal, scored by one-time Molineux youngster Bobby Moncur. The Wolves team were Barron, Rickerby, Thomson, Goodwin, Woodfield (captain), Knighton, Povey, Kemp, Galley, Knowles, Calloway. In the home leg, Alan Attwood had played instead of Kemp.

Glasses were raised during the dinner in memory of those no longer still with us – Attwood, Paddy Rickerby and Bobby Thomson, plus Bob Knight, David Carrick and David Oliphant from just before or just after.

The main theme of the proceedings was to revisit old times. Galley, for example, hadn’t seen the Billy Wright statue before and the last time Thompson had been at the ground was when John McAlle had got tickets for he and his son for a game against Leicester around 30 years ago.

There was sadness that Ken Knighton had been prevented by family commitments from attending – he was close mates with Galley, Goodwin and Hawkins among others – while work duties at Marks and Sparks ruled Peter Knowles out; or so we assumed.

He is not thought to have been back to Molineux on football ‘business’ since playing in Ted Farmer’s testimonial game in 1990 but, 15 minutes after the scheduled sit-down time, he lit up the room even further by walking in wearing the trademark long coat which has been seen at a couple of funerals in recent years.

Opting only for water where others took something a little stronger, he was soon at the heart of the banter and displaying a remarkable recall considering he very rarely mixes in these circles.    

Decades away from the game did not prevent him from doing better than most at spotting faces from half a century ago. But he has a particular rapport with Parkes and Wharton – men with whom he played in a promotion-winning side in 1966-67 and then memorably and successfully toured America the same summer. “I’ve never seen him that relaxed and prepared to open up,” Terry added. “He looked like he really enjoyed himself.” It was high-quality fly-on-the-wall time.

Peter Knowles answers a photo request from Vic Povey (left). Graham Newton is on the right.

Inevitably, embraces conducted – especially by those who were not attending today’s game at Molineux – talk turned to the next time. “We have to do it again,” Aggio said. “We’ve had such a brilliant day.” 

With that, Goodwin pondered his flight back to France this lunchtime and Kemp looked ahead to resuming the break in Majorca that he had interrupted. “I’m so glad I came back for this,” Kemp said. “Being at Wolves together was probably the best time of our lives – and we didn’t know it.”

* Please also read yesterday’s on-the-spot account of proceedings.

 

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