Strewth! Charlie Finds His Man In Oz

‘There’s A Guy At The Door…..Says He’s From Wolves Heroes’

Joe WIlson during his 63-game stay with Wolves in the 1960s.

We at Wolves Heroes have always prided ourselves on being able to track down former Molineux favourites wherever they may now reside. And, in the last few weeks, we think we have excelled ourselves.

At Molineux on Saturday, we had a meeting with an early 1960s player who has lived abroad for much of the last few decades. And only the previous day, we finally shook hands with a man we had been chasing since our launch three and a half years ago.

But these back-to-back successes, of which much more will be written this month, look straightforward exercises alongside the wonderful dedication Charlie Bamforth continues to show to our cause.

This lifelong Wolves fan was born near Wigan and has been based in California since 1999 thanks to a top job in the brewing industry. Yet the thousands of miles have done nothing to dent his love of Molineux nostalgia.

So much so that, having met up two years ago on America’s West Coast with one-time Wanderers winger Jimmy Kelly and conducted several other long interviews on our behalf, he has now gone the extra mile – and then some.

Charlie spent last week in Melbourne on business and put his spare time to good use by visiting two of Wolves’ Down Under set, Alun Evans and Dave Maclaren. Better than that, though, he also knocked on Joe Wilson’s door and secured our first interview with him, as well as an up-to-date photograph.

The long-forgotten 1960s Wolves full-back has been in Australia for nearly 40 years and was on our radar thanks to the detective work of Evelyn Harper (formerly Baker), a one-time Molineux steward who also now lives in Melbourne and finally reached him a couple of years ago after working through the J Wilsons in her local phone directory!

Wolves Heroes’ co-owner John Richards then made the appropriate contact on a family visit of his own to Melbourne last year, only to discover that Joe had not long lost his wife and was not ready to be interviewed.

But Charlie has now addressed the matter in his usual enthusiastic way and will be posting a lengthy feature on the 74-year-old in the coming days.

“As a lad, it was my dream to play for Wolverhampton Wanderers,” he said. “It never happened but I found my way eventually to being the professor of beer here in California, so life has had its compensations! But nothing I do in my day job gives me as much sheer joy and satisfaction as my work with Wolves Heroes.

“I consider it an honour to be able to search out, talk to and write about players whose names were so familiar to me as a devotee of the old gold.

“I am lucky enough to travel a lot in my job and don’t mind sight-seeing. But I have been to Australia quite a few times and my first reaction when I heard I was going to be in Melbourne was to wonder which former Wolves players I might be able to meet up with.

“I’ve always had a fascination with goalkeepers, so it was great to jump on a train north for an hour and a half or so to a place called Castlemaine in the gold rush area to meet up with Dave Maclaren. He picked me up at the station and we went for lunch at a nearby bistro. I was extremely flattered when he told me afterwards that he hadn’t enjoyed such a visit as much for years.

“I met Alun Evans, his daughter and her boyfriend the previous teatime at a casino near the city centre. I hadn’t met him before, so that was lovely as well.

“But I was particularly pleased to see Joe Wilson as he was one player Wolves Heroes had been struggling to reach properly. I spoke to him by phone at some length before leaving California but then grew worried as I was struggling to contact him again once I arrived.

“I had a postal address for him, though, and eventually decided to take the plunge. It meant another decent journey – about ten miles by rail from my hotel in the city – and there was a sign on his door saying ‘Please do not knock.’ But he answered as a dog in the house was yapping and he was the perfect host considering I had just turned up without an appointment, as it were. Fortunately, he remembered my name from our phone call.

“Despite my protests, he insisted on driving me back to the station afterwards and showed me where he and the family used to live.

“He lives on his own now, so he was very accommodating and seemed to love talking about his Wolves career and the times he had at other clubs. I can’t wait to get writing and putting a piece together.”

Charlie Bamforth (left) and Alun Evans together last week.

We do have to report, though, that not quite all of Charlie’s mission was a success. During his trip, he tried and failed to reach Bertie Lutton, leaving us with the dilemma of whether to despatch him across the world again to finish the job properly – or let him off with a warning.

As he has previously brought the likes of Jimmy Melia, Bob McNab, Laurie Calloway, Campbell Chapman and Paul Dougherty to our door – as well as tracked down players like Clive Ford and David Wintersgill for us – we have opted for the latter course of action on this occasion.

Editor’s footnote: Can you believe it? Charlie Bamforth even lost his luggage both flying into Melbourne and flying home.

 

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