Wolves Former Players Association recorded its biggest turnout at their annual golf day – boosted by an appearance of a special guest for the first time.
Twenty players spanning four decades – the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s – attended the popular event at Oxley Park Golf Club. Former winger Paul Walker, who had not seen old team-mates Phil Parkes, John McAlle, Kenny Hibbitt and John Richards for almost 50 years, made his first appearance at the event after travelling down from his home in Leeds.
Terry Wharton, Gerry Farrell (a late 1960s reserve teamer who signed pro in 1970), Steve Daley, Phil Nicholls, Steve Kindon, Geoff Palmer – a recent former captain at Oxley Park – Willie Carr, Norman Bell, Mel Eves, Colin Brazier, Dale Rudge, Micky Holmes, Dean Edwards, Andy Mutch and Don Goodman also played in the fourball competition, which started in the rain before brightening up later. Most players live locally but Farrell, Kindon and Bell travelled from Lancashire, Walker from Leeds, Holmes from Leicestershire, Edwards from Torquay and Mutch from Southport. All but Farrell and Nicholls played first-team football for the club.
The 20 ex-players, bonded by around 4,300 appearances in gold and black, were joined by one from the ‘enemy’ – Albion’s Joe Mayo, who is a big supporter of their Former Players’ Association and is well known to many of the Molineux favourites. Wolves fanatic Johnny Phillips from Sky Sports and fellow Molineux nut Jeremy Nicholls, the golf professional at the Ledene Golf Centre in Codsall Wood, also took part.
Walker, like Hibbitt, was born in Bradford and used to room with his fellow Yorkshireman, making 32 appearances for the club from 1969-71 before spells at Watford, Swindon and Peterborough prior to returning to the White Rose county to play for Barnsley and Huddersfield. After hanging up his boots, he became a successful businessman in Leeds, first with a limousine hire company called Castle and Coronet Travel then with his own packing firm that employed 100 people, before retiring seven years ago.
Walker, who is still in regular contact with two other Leeds-based former Wolves team-mates in Mike O’Grady and Micky Kent, was delighted to meet up again with his old colleagues. “I’ve been asked to come down before but I was a bit nervous because I haven’t seen the lads for nearly 50 years,” said the 70-year-old. “But I’m so glad I did now – lads like Kenny and John are fantastic. I’m a bit bewildered really!”
Walker shared laughs with his old colleagues and the memories and funny stories were soon flooding out. “I remember once we were all running around the shale track that surrounded the pitch at Molineux, lap after lap after lap,” he recalled. “Bill McGarry, the manager, was watching us from the centre circle. We were all getting tired and a bit bored of the running and all of a sudden, Danny Hegan piped up ‘Do we have to do all this running, gaffer? Ray Reardon is the best snooker player and I don’t see him running round the snooker table!’ We all fell about!” Walker, whose football fix is now only watching on TV, is going to try to persuade O’Grady and Kent to attend future events.
Funds raised from an auction on the night will be split between the chosen charities, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Maureen Parkes Breast Care Fund. Prizes included two tickets for the Manchester City home game on Boxing Day, two tickets to go behind the scenes at Sky Sports’ Soccer AM programme, a pair of boots donated by captain Conor Coady and four tickets for a night at Cannock’s Bar Sports with 10 former Wolves players.
Recent recipients were Compton Care and the Good Shepherd in Wolverhampton, to the tune of £1,000 each.