Wembley Nostalgia Still Thick In The Air

Did You Know? Some Player-By-Player Oddities

With the accent still very much on the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Wolves’ first League Cup final, we go through the Wembley line-up and remind our readers of some little-known facts about each one. Fifty years ago, they would have been getting very keyed up, especially a certain much-loved left-winger!

One happy chappie….Gary Pierce on the most memorable day of his football life.

GARY PIERCE: It has been well stated that the big match against Manchester City fell on the keeper’s 23rd birthday but less well remembered is the fact he had previously played only 11 first-team games for the club (none of them in the cups) and had saved a penalty from his opposite number, Alex Stepney, in the goalless League draw at Manchester United two weeks before Wembley.

GEOFF PALMER: The biggest match of the Cannock-born full-back’s life came in his first few months in the side. Having made his debut in a win at Arsenal in the match to decide third and fourth place in the previous season’s FA Cup, he appeared in another five away games – including Halifax and Tranmere in the League Cup – before playing his first senior match at Molineux.

DEREK PARKIN: One of Bill McGarry’s cup veterans as a member of the teams who lost the 1972 UEFA Cup final and 1973 FA Cup semi-final. But a heart scare that sidelined him for six months meant he missed the entire League Cup run in 1972-73, when Wolves reached and lost a last-four clash with Tottenham. It was against champions-elect City that he took his tally of games for the club into double figures in April, 1968.

MIKE BAILEY: Might the skipper have been a League Cup winner before what he described as the ‘shivery’ moment when he lifted the trophy to the gold and black masses in 1974? Spurs, the club who won the silverware in two of the previous three seasons, enquired about him as a Charlton player before he broke his leg playing for them at Middlesbrough in February, 1965.

FRANK MUNRO: Oh Frank! Not only did he swap his sweat-stained shirt with Denis Law at Wembley and then give the sky blue one to a lad in the crowd, he took up smoking during the post-match celebrations. This centre-half supreme never resorted to self-pity, though, whether or not the habit contributed to his later illness-blighted years. He fought those problems in the same wonderful spirit he displayed in the final. 

JOHN McALLE: What a game this fella had in the final! What a sense of occasion he clearly possessed. Two weeks beforehand, ‘Scouse’ captained the team in Mike Bailey’s absence in a home win against Birmingham and was then at the side of his wife, Jill, as she gave birth to a daughter. The central defender had himself missed successive games against Stoke and Sheffield United in early February. 

KENNY HIBBITT: It’s hard to believe now but the popular midfielder pitched up at the twin towers without being sure he was going to be playing. He had been nursing a thigh problem and it seemed to be touch and go whether he would be named. “My boots were placed under the no 7 shirt in the dressing room and that’s how I knew I was playing,” said the scorer of Wolves’ first goal.

ALAN SUNDERLAND: Les Wilson, who departed for Bristol City in 1970-71, wasn’t the only renowned utility player at Molineux. This bushy-haired Yorkshireman, who would score against Wolves in the 1979 FA Cup semi-final for Arsenal, played in nine different shirts in gold and black and played a key part in the no 8 jersey at Wembley, cutting back the cross that led to the winning goal.

JOHN RICHARDS: How crucial to this glorious run was the no 9? He also scored the quarter-final winner at home to Liverpool in one of those unusual midweek afternoon ties and did the same to Norwich in the semi-final after netting in the 1-1 first-leg draw at Carrow Road. All that and he sat out five successive League games before Wembley because of a pelvic injury. Utterly priceless!

The energetic young buck who went on from the bench….Barry Powell.

DEREK DOUGAN: Wolves’ talisman and chief crowd-pleaser had missed out on playing in Aston Villa’s winning League Cup final team against Rotherham in 1961 but was part of a side painfully beaten by Birmingham in the 1963 final. When he had figured for Blackburn in the 1960 FA Cup final against Wolves, his mind was somewhat scrambled after requesting a transfer hours before kick-off. All part of the Doog story!

DAVE WAGSTAFFE: That golf story involving Messrs Bailey, McGarry and Chung and the subsequent injury worry is too long for here, so how about a reminder of his City past instead? The winger played more than 150 games while on the staff at Maine Road and was presented with a signed copy of Bert Trautmann’s autobiography many decades after scoring twice in the keeper’s testimonial game. 

BARRY POWELL: Big games came quickly and regularly to the young substitute. He was just 19 when playing in the FA Cup semi-final against Leeds and, a year later to the week, was secretly tipped off by Daily Express reporter Alan Williams that he was in the shake-up for Wembley; a big relief as he hadn’t played in the first team for a month since going off injured at Sheffield United.

*Places are still available for this Saturday’s VIP League Cup-themed tours of the outstanding Molineux Museum. Geoff Palmer and Kenny Hibbitt will be present to relive the stories behind the day in a Q&A session in the auditorium. Tours cost £45 and are being held at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm on this, the 50th anniversary of the club’s famous Wembley victory over Manchester City. Tickets and further details are available from https://events.wolves.co.uk/molineux-stadium-tours/wolves-presents/

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