Terry Wharton has used a late-season reunion of Wolves players from four and five decades ago to reveal how he bottled an opportunity with today’s Molineux visitors Blackburn.
The winger is best known for the long spell he had in his adopted home town but might conceivably have instead kicked off his successful professional career at Ewood Park.
Wharton, one of 11 players brought together for a buffet and drinks in Billy’s Boot Room this afternoon, caught the eye of Rovers talent spotters in his teens but never grasped the chance to properly impress them.
“I remember leaving home at 1pm for this trial game and jumping on the 525 or 225 bus from Bolton, with my dad wishing me all the best as I went,” he said.
“By 3pm, I was home and in tears. He asked what had happened and I told him I had taken a look round the dressing room and just couldn’t handle it.
“I was 15 and only 4ft 11in tall. The lads I was up against were much taller, with hairy legs….they seemed almost like grown men. I just felt so out of place.”
There was always a chance the young Wharton might end up at Ewood Park. His father Jack spent several years there and had his own FA Cup semi-final weekend heartbreak.
“He played for them in 1951 when they faced Newcastle in the last four,” Terry added. “They drew first at Hillsborough and then the headmaster allowed me to miss school and go to watch him in the replay at Huddersfield in midweek.
“Unfortunately, Blackburn were beaten 2-1, otherwise I might have had the chance to see him at Wembley.”
“Long before pitching up at Molineux via a short stint at Notts County, Wharton Jnr was also noticed by another of the prominent Lancashire clubs, Preston.
“I played a trial game for them on the day I left school and scored two and made two,” he said.
“Someone told me the club would be in touch but I heard nothing. When I went back to Deepdale with Wolves and scored in a victory, I made sure I gave the trainer a wave to remember myself to him!”
Also in attendance today for a visit that included a walk on to the pitch at half-time were Phil Parkes, Gerry Taylor, Phil Nicholls, Colin Brazier, John McAlle, Willie Carr, Steve Daley, Gerry O’Hara, Mel Eves and Steve Kindon.