‘One **** *********, there’s only one **** *********.’ It’s a chant used by football fans all over the country but a dig beneath the surface tells us that the truth is sometimes different. Peter Crump doesn’t often have the problem of being confused with others of the same name but that didn’t stop Wolves Heroes’ new contributor pinpointing some little-spotted connections…..
During this research, I realised there were quite a few Wolves players who share a name with others to have served the club. Some you will remember and some you may not but the extent of the links may be surprising. Goalkeepers figure prominently but I start with a name that has featured with some regularity over the years.
PAUL BUTLER: More than 20 years before the signing of the better-known centre-half and skipper, Wolves had another Paul Butler. This one came to the club in July, 1980 after being spotted by John Jarman during trials he organised at Durham University. The Stockton-on-Tees lad had given up an apprenticeship as a welder and John Barnwell rang the company to ask them to keep the opportunity available in case things didn’t work out at Wolves. Butler was on schoolboy forms with Hartlepool at the time and was a midfielder who could also play on the wing. Nicknamed ‘Bubbles’ at Molineux, he made his Wanderers debut as a substitute in August, 1982 in the home win against Blackburn. His full debut was in the late October in a home game against Derby and most of his 35 first-team Wolves appearances came in the ill-fated 1984-85 season under Tommy Docherty; one that brought him 17 starts and two goals (against Wimbledon and Sheffield United). Butler spent time on loan at Hereford in February, 1984 and joined them permanently the following year.
JOHN RUDDY: In addition to the current reserve to Jose Sa, the man more commonly known as Jack Ruddy has not long left Wolves. This was the Glasgow-born John Robert Ruddy, who was at Rangers as a boy and was coached there by Andy Goram. In 2010, Ruddy emigrated to Spain and was signed by Real Murcia before returning to the UK in 2014 and signing for Bury, for whom he played one League match. He joined Wolves in 2016 and had loan spells at Oldham, Ayr and Madrid-based SC Reyes as well as spending time at our one-time partner club in Spain, FC Jamila. Since remaining on the fringes at Molineux, Jack has served Ross County in the Scottish Highlands, CD Leganes B in Spain and Plymouth, where he played alongside another former Wolf, the Wolverhampton-born Niall Ennis. Ruddy is now with Linfield, having represented Scotland at various age levels.
DARREN WARD: The Londoner and central defender joined Wolves in 2007 but there was someone else of the same name on the squad list with him a year or two after that. Apparently not content at having two brothers (defender Elliott and keeper Scott in the professional game), the 2004 Millwall FA Cup finalist had a Molineux namesake in the goalkeeper department. This other Darren Ward was signed on loan in March, 2009, when Mick McCarthy had Wayne Hennessey as his only fit senior man in the position. Worksop-born Ward is something of a Nottinghamshire legend, having played extensively for Mansfield, Nottingham Forest and across the river at County. He was a big part of the Sunderland team who won promotion in 2006-07 and was capped five times by Wales before going into coaching soon after his departure from Wolves, for whom he didn’t progress past the substitutes’ bench.
DAVID BUTLER: Wolves have had two players of this name on their books but neither made the first team. Striker/winger David Butler was part of the youth side in 1979-80 and impressed in the reserves too, signing professional forms in the summer of 1980. He later had a successful loan spell at Torquay but hopes of a permanent move to the Devon coast were sunk and the player subsequently went to Stafford Rangers. The other man of this name was a right-back or central defender who was recruited at Molineux 1988. He developed a good defensive partnership in the youths with another local lad, Neville Fennell, and both appeared on the 1990-91 squad photo. Butler went on to play for Ally Roberston at Cheltenham and Sammy Chung at Tamworth in the early to mid-1990s, then became a big favourite at Willenhall, where he was captain for some years. Both David Butlers were born in Wolverhampton.
PAUL JONES: Both of these two did make substantial appearances in Wolves’ first team, the first Paul Jones signing from Walsall in 1989. Among his 15 senior appearances was an outing from the bench in the Bully-inspired 4-1 win at Newcastle on the first day of the 1990s. He was released in 1991 and spent the rest of his playing days in non-League, most notably with Kettering. By coincidence, little over a month after his departure, another Paul Jones arrived – from Kidderminster for around £60,000. The keeper was into his second Molineux season when he made his debut at Roker Park, Sunderland. He had to be patient for chances in place of Mike Stowell and his most memorable moment came in the famous FA Cup clashes with Sheffield Wednesday in 1995. Not only did he emerge as a hero of the penalty shoot-out success at Molineux – he had earned that replay with a late penalty save in the first meeting at Hillsborough. Jones moved to Stockport in July, 1996 and went on to have an outstanding career with Southampton and Wales (50 caps), even squeezing in a loan spell at Liverpool before returning to Molineux in 2004 to take his appearance tally across two spells with the club to 70.
*We are grateful to Peter Crump for his observations and knowledge and, thanks to him, have a potential part two on this subject in reserve.