Andy Mutch has paid tribute to Sammy Chapman, calling him a ‘father figure’ to Wolves players at the time.
Chapman died peacefully at his home in Wombourne on Wednesday at the age of 81. Mutch, 55, was the stand-out signing made by Chapman in the darkest days in Wolves’ long and proud history. The Liverpudlian striker was playing for non-league Southport when the then manager of Wolves signed him for £5,000 in February 1986.
Mutch quickly set about repaying the modest fee, scoring seven goals in his first 15 games to the end of that season to finish as joint second top scorer behind the departed Andy King, although it wasn’t enough to keep Wolves up as they were relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time in the club’s history. Chapman left in August 1986 to be replaced by Brian Little, who soon made way for Graham Turner. By the November he had signed a certain Steve Bull, and the rest they say is history as he and Mutch formed a deadly strike partnership that took Wolves to two promotions, records galore and the Sherpa Van Trophy at Wembley, when Mutch was among the scorers.
Mutch, who went on to score 106 goals in 338 games in gold and black, will never forget the part Chapman played in shaping his life and those early days.
“It’s very sad news and I send my condolences to his family,” Mutch told www.wolvesbite.com “My thoughts are with them. For me, I will be forever grateful that Sammy gave me an opportunity. He came to watch me play for Southport against Kidderminster, liked what he saw, spoke to Southport and did a deal for me. He will always be in my thoughts for that and he gave me and a lot of lads a chance to play for a great club.
“He was like a father figure to all the players because a lot of the lads were waifs and strays, but he took time to get to know us personally and he had time for everyone.
“There was never any negativity around the place when Sammy was the manager. He was also a very funny man and was a very optimistic person – which he had to be at that time – and was a very positive personality. He made it a good place to be in an environment where things were difficult.
“It was at a difficult period for the club both financially and with the ownership but he did his best to keep the ship going. Sammy dealt with an awful lot of problems and situations. For me, he deserves his place in the history of the club, keeping it going until it got into safer hands.”
Mutch was one of several bargain signings made by Chapman, including winger John Morrissey, who went on to enjoy a long and successful career with Tranmere, Jon Purdie, Neil Edwards, Dean Edwards and Micky Holmes, several of whom played their part in the club’s revival in the late 1980s.
“Sammy was instrumental in bringing in a lot of players who he saw something in – maybe they weren’t the finished article, but if they were, they wouldn’t have been at Wolves at that time, and a lot went on to have good careers,” added Mutch.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t play under him for long because of circumstances and things can change quickly in football, but he was an important part of my life. But I think he went on to work with David Platt at Nottingham Forest and with England, so he was well respected in the game.”