Sad Update On 1960s Hero

Prodigious Goalscorer In Care Home

Hugh McIlmoyle – mid-1960s Wolves favourite.

It wasn’t only Wolves supporters who made a hero out of Hugh McIlmoyle. He was a young FA Cup finalist for Leicester, was regarded as one of Scotland’s best uncapped centre-forwards and is immortalised with a statue outside Carlisle’s ground.

Now we come to terms with the sad news that he is yet another former player to have been diagnosed with dementia.

Some Molineux regulars of a certain age regard Hugh Curran as the best header of a ball they have ever seen. Some plump for the countryman who shares the same Christian name.

There is, of course, much debate around how much those heavy balls of decades past might have contributed to the condition, especially among those players given the task of winning the aerial battles at one end of the pitch or the other.

So proficient a header of the ball was McIlmoyle that his statue captures him in just such a pose. ‘Had an incredible ability to hang in the air’, ‘my all-time favourite player’ and ‘he was my hero’ are three of the recent comments made by fans in response to the depressing disclosure about his health.

The remarks originated among the Cumbrian community and, higher up football’s food chain, deep-rooted affection for the 84-year-old remains at Molineux, too.

The Independent brought us the news that he now lives in a care home in Huncote, Leicestershire, just around the corner from his 80-year-old wife, Rosalyne.

She and their son, Alan, speak of the possible link between his trade and his illness, as does journalist Tom Campbell, who said the Alzheimer’s diagnosis came in 2018 and the move from Cumbria to Leicestershire followed in the summer of 2021.

Hugh has since met up with former Leicester colleagues Howard Riley and Richie Norman at the club’s training ground, both having lined up alongside him in the 2-0 FA Cup final defeat against Tottenham at Wembley 63 years ago.

The forward was then a mere 21 and only a handful of games into his Football League career but his biggest advances in the game came two clubs later when he had joined Carlisle and set a club record with 44 goals in a season.

The statue outside Carlisle’s Brunton Park home….one that’s fit for a hero.

He joined Wolves in the autumn of 1964, a few weeks after Stan Cullis’s departure, and scored 14 goals in a relegation-bound side in what was left of that season.

McIlmoyle’s overall goal total in gold and black was a highly impressive 45 in 105 games before he rejoined Carlisle early in 1967.

And here’s an uplifting note on which to end the story….one of his pleasures in life is the 45 minutes a week he spends playing dementia-friendly walking football.  

We are sure that all Wolves supporters, especially those of a certain age, will be keen to join us in wishing all the very best to Hugh and his family.

 

 

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