Paul Walker is still buzzing after making a nostalgic first return to Wolverhampton in almost 50 years.
The Yorkshireman travelled from Leeds to be part of the bumper turn-out at the annual Wolves Former Players Association golf day and has vowed not to leave it as long next time!
The late 1960s and early 1970s Molineux midfielder travelled south with Norman Bell and Gerry Farrell and discovered that Andy Mutch, Dean Edwards and Micky Holmes had also dropped in on the weekend gathering at Oxley Park.
“I have to say I was quite nervous about seeing so many of my old team-mates again,” Walker said today.
“I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by not recognising anyone or failing to remember a name. It would be easy to embarrass yourself after all this while!
“But everyone told me to relax and have a great afternoon and evening, which is what I did. I am so pleased to have made the effort and will be looking forward to the next time.”
Walker left Molineux on a couple of loan spells and then for Peterborough in 1972-73 following 32 first-team appearances, around a third of them from the substitutes’ bench.
He has remained friendly over the decades with Farrell and been in occasional phone contact with other one-time colleagues, including fellow Wath Wanderer Steve Daley – chief organiser of this highly popular annual event.
And he was grateful for the alertness of Bell when setting off for the Midlands by rail after a Thursday night out in Morecambe with Farrell.
“Gerry still works in an estate agency up there and I thought it would be nice to travel down together,” he added. “The problem was that we caught a train to Manchester Airport by mistake and were relieved to have phone contact with Norman, who told us to get off at Preston.
“We had to make another unscheduled change but we made it safely in the end and I have to say I hardly recognised Wolverhampton when I saw it again.
“It was fantastic, though, to be involved and to see lads like John Richards and Kenny Hibbitt, who I hadn’t seen since the day I left.
“I even had Geoff Palmer telling me we once shared digs in Wolverhampton – the only one I remember sharing with is Evan Williams.”
Also among the Oxley ‘cast’ were Terry Wharton, Phil Parkes, Phil Nicholls, Steve Kindon, Willie Carr, Mel Eves, Colin Brazier, Dale Rudge and Don Goodman while an Albion presence came from Joe Mayo and Paul Raven,
So here is what else we learned on the day other than the lesson that we should put the 70-year-old Walker on trains in future rather than let him have much to do with the planning!
*That Bell was a surprise hero of Micky Holmes, dating back to when the latter collected Soccer Stars and developed a particular love of the Wolves page.
*That Andy Mutch was delighted during a recent round at his home course, Hillside in Southport, when spotting Paul Cook and Accrington manager John Coleman on a nearby hole.
*That Richards, Hibbitt, Daley and Colin Brazier had a wonderful time when guests of Viking Wolves in Norway a week and a half ago.
*That Mike O’Grady may well have been with his regular Leeds golf buddy Walker on this trip south had he not been away on holiday.
*And that that this day on the calendar remains a brilliant social gathering and a quite magnificent supporter of local charities.