By David Instone
To the majority among Molineux’s massive Premier League supporter base, the name ‘Peter Creed’ may not be hugely significant.
But no-one did more to drive the club’s former players association for virtually 30 years and there wasn’t a more loyal, longer-serving supporter of Wolves and Wolverhampton.
His death at the age of 90 removes another of the precious links to the pre-war Wanderers and takes away a unique character who has been a highly familiar inner-circle face for decades.
The Express & Star and Shropshire Star, the newspapers with whom he spent most of his successful career in advertising, have published their own lovely tributes today, including an emphasis on the forceful, committed and at times outspoken part he played in easing the crises of the mid-1980s.
“He was a big friend of John Bird, who was leader of Wolverhampton Council, and always felt that if he and people like John didn’t do something, nothing was ever going to save the club,” his son Michael is quoted as saying on the papers’ websites.
Albert and Muriel Bates at the Wolves Official Supporters Club were other key figures in the rescue mission and it was while the storm-clouds were building around the Bhatti reign at Molineux that I got to know Peter for the first time and learned what a man of substance he was.
His first-floor office at the Express & Star was directly below the sports desk in the early and mid-1980s, so it was easy for him to pop to the editorial floor for a quick catch-up with my colleague David Harrison, the paper’s brilliantly-connected Wolves correspondent at the time.
Peter looked very much the advertising director he was, spoke with conviction and had a ready smile. He wanted to know the news and wanted to share it. He couldn’t have had the club’s well-being closer to heart and, at a time when Wolves, the Star, Goodyear, Manders and Tarmac were the big players in town, I soon had him marked down as a mover and shaker.
Many’s the time after my switch to covering Wolves in 1986 that I escaped down that flight of stairs for afternoon tea with him, served by his secretary on a tray in lovely china cups and saucers. Boy, he could talk in the confines of that wood-panelled office but he was unfailingly friendly, helpful and supportive.
Yes, he wasn’t just generous with his time. He was always first in the queue to pay when I started writing books about the club and he, wife Joan and sons Michael and Charles have always had season tickets – something he believed protected his precious right to criticise and protest if necessary. Freebies weren’t for him.
The match-day experience could be quiet in those days, both among the hardy 3,500 at a home match or on the road to somewhere like Ilkeston or Tranmere for a pre-season friendly. He was one of the faces who turned up everywhere and we all seemed to know each other by name.
When, with the Turner/Bull revival under-way and some of the missing thousands returning to Molineux, Wolves fans were banned from six successive away matches as punishment for crowd disorder. Peter sent the money he was saving on tickets to each of the host clubs to ensure they weren’t suffering financially from his absence. If memory serves, he asked me to refer to him as ‘an anonymous businessman’ in the story I wrote. He didn’t have an ego problem.
Not that he was in any way a push-over. After an abject defeat at Chesterfield on the way to relegation from the Third Division, he stood in front of the team coach and refused to move until Sammy Chapman disembarked to offer some mitigation for events on the field.
What really pushed Peter Creed to prominence in Wolves’ corridors of power was the formation of their former players association. The sudden death of Jimmy Mullen in October, 1987, brought the declaration that the golden greats had no intention of meeting only at funerals.
He became honorary secretary and was so proud of the new organisation that his wallet always contained my fly-on-the-wall Express & Star account of the strictly private launch meeting and the corresponding piece written by the also-present Steve Gordos as editor of the Chronicle weeklies.
Peter was a personal friend of Billy Wright, Stan Cullis, Bert Williams and others and had their utmost trust. He shared their high principles, so never a bereavement went by without due respect being paid in the form of a letter and a bouquet of flowers. He wasn’t in the role for any personal gain and made sure he carefully vetted any media request for interviews with these ultimate legends. Their blue-chip reputations and interests were safe with him around but woe betide any outsider whose scruples fell short because he could be feisty and tough.
Retirement from the Express & Star in the early 1990s was no more than that. He didn’t do holidays, barely even a family meal out, so he went to one of the paper’s sister companies, Precision Colour Printing in Telford, to satisfy his appetite for work.
He helped win the contract for the printing of the match-day programme and was a valuable middle-man as several of my Wolves publications went to press. Above all, he was top of the league whenever we needed an array of former players for signing purposes at a book launch. In his eyes, everyone who worked for the Express & Star was there to be helped; the rest had to prove themselves.
By now, his habit of placing a bet on a 4-1 win on every match-day was well known among his circle. Such were his cheerfulness and optimism even amid the 1990s stagnation in the second tier. He reckoned the result needed to come up only once a season to ensure he broke even.
Another curiosity was his ability to look at his watch on any summer’s day and quickly state in weeks, days, hours and minutes how long it was until kick-off time on the first day of a season. Not bad for someone who liked his cricket as well.
His other main sporting loves, though, were racing (he had interests in some horses in Ireland) and speedway, the latter born out of civic pride. He doubled up for many years as commercial manager of those other Wolves and didn’t miss a Monmore race night.
With his long-time place on the Board of Governors at Tettenhall College – the establishment the family home is situated close to – life was never relaxing, even through his 70s. Peter thrived on hard work, in particular selling, supporting, contributing.
But such commitment was always in the background. Did we ever hear him interviewed on radio or see him on TV? He very rarely stood up at the microphone and the Wolves players dinners he organised almost single-handedly came and went with brief acknowledgement of his efforts by the FPA chairman of the day. You could see that even that didn’t sit too comfortably with him….mind you, he enjoyed a pint or two when everything had gone off well and he could unwind towards midnight.
He retained huge affection at the Star, as well as among the old boys, and found no trouble gaining photo-copier access for his mountain of letters. Viv Birch, in promotions, was a willing ally to all his endeavours because he didn’t do emails and had even less truck with social media.
Peter Creed, named an WFPA honorary life vice-president in 2018, was a one-off and hopefully the tributes to him in the last 24 hours have told the present-day masses how much he did for the club – and beyond – for so long.