I always put him in the same class as Shackleton, Carter and Mannion who were all really great inside forwards. His ball control was uncanny; Beckham does not have the same ball control that Peter had. He deserved more than his 7 England caps but Johnny Haynes kept him out of the England team.
He was a very hard man who had a lot more skill than many people gave him credit for and should have played more than 4 times for England. He was a good man to have in your side as he was a character on and off the field. He once went to Stan Cullis and said, “Now I am a regular in the first team, can I have the same wages as Jimmy Mullen, Johnny Hancocks, Billy Wright and Bert Williams?” Stan replied, “You are not as good as them”. Eddie came back, “Well what about being on the same wages as them in the summer, I am as good as them in the summer!".
I played football with Stan at the Wolves, against him whilst I was at Walsall and under him as my manager. As a player he had all the ball skills in the world and always played to win. He brought a new concept to the position of centre half, he had more of the ball skills of an inside forward than a big centre half. As a manager Stan carried the same principles with him - he was the boss and told you what he wanted from you. Before the important replay of the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United we asked him to give us a tactical talk. The reason was that we had 2 injuries and 2 inexperienced young players coming in as replacements. Billy Wright was nominated to go and ask Stan to come down and talk to us. He came down and said, “The day I have to tell you how to play football, I want your money as well as mine!” This was typical of Stan. As a manager he did not believe in pre-match tactical talks. He liked the players to go out and rely on their own skills and abilities. Stan said, “Let the opposition worry about us - play your natural game!” Basically we played the same style of football week after week with the simple aim being to score more goals than the opposition. Stan got very involved and showed his emotions jumping up and down in the excitement of the game. Stan was a tremendous player and an even better manager as his record proves.
Norman started as a wing half at Wolves but he was too small so moved to inside forward then on to the wing where he made his name. He was my boot boy in his early days - Stan used to tell me to take him away, give him some exercises and make him grow. After playing on the wing in the reserves he really came into his own. He was skilful and could score goals including two for Wolves in winning the 1960 FA Cup final against Blackburn Rovers. Clubs would cry out for a player like Norman today, he would be priceless.
Ron was one of the strongest tacklers I have ever seen. He was a big man and ideal for Wolves’ style of play. He would cross a ball out to the wing and always find his man. Ron was a tower of strength in any side and I was so disappointed when he didn’t get a World Cup Winners medal in 1966.
There’ll never be another like Johnny Hancocks. If ever you saw his calf muscles, they were huge. He had timing, style and a superb follow through. I remember him taking a free kick against Hanson, the Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper, and the ball hit him on the head and sent him into the back of the net with the ball. Goodness knows how fast his shots would be today with the lighter balls. Johnny and I played together at Walsall - it was funny how he came to Walsall. They wanted to sign Wally Brown from Oakengates and he said he would only sign if Johnny Hancocks could come with him.
They said Jimmy only had one good leg but what a leg it was! He was fast! I knew I only had to put a goal kick within ten yards of him and he would get it. Jimmy was a perfect winger who would cross a ball when it looked impossible and could he cross a ball. He perfected his centres to be met by our other winger Johnny Hancocks who would volley them into the net. For spectators to see Jimmy race down to the dead ball line and cross was very exciting but very hard for goalkeepers. He was a really good friend, dedicated to fitness and the game. Week after week he would give his all, a goal scoring winger with the finest left foot I have ever seen.
Three International friends, Jimmy Mullen, Billy Wright and Bert Williams
Jesse came from Notts County and was one of the fastest players running with the ball under control. Jesse was a star at Wembley in 1949 scoring two of the three goals to beat Leicester City 3-1. Jesse liked doing the football coupon. His wife filled it in as he was not allowed to. On one occasion we had beaten Manchester City at Maine Road. Jesse bought a paper outside the ground to see the results. On the coach we asked, “Come on, how have you done Jesse?” He stuttered, “Th-This week we’ve had all the B-Bs. B-Blackpool draw; B-Bolton draw”. He continued with six draws and then said, “And B-B-Bloody Manchester City”.
Bill and I went to the same school - St Martin’s in Bradley and when we won the FA Cup in 1949 we took it back to St Martin’s to show the pupils. Bill was a good player to play behind, he was straight forward, no frills but very hard who gave everything he’d got for Wolves. He started at left back but soon converted to centre half. With Bill you knew exactly what he was going to do, he should have played for England. We knew him as “The Baron”.
Bill was very much like Tom Galley. A great wing half, inoffensive and studious. He was a University lecturer. Bill was a well drilled player who read the game perfectly, intelligent, conscientious and a good all round bloke. He played for England on numerous occasions.
Anyone who saw the 1949 FA Cup final will never forget the goal that Sammy scored, one of the best ever seen at Wembley. He collected the ball in our half and ran the full length of the pitch beating several opponents before putting the ball in the net. Sammy was the stand-in goalkeeper whenever I was injured. He was a first class inside forward who played for Ireland at International level.
Roy was a tremendous centre forward. He could control the ball, hold the ball up, a very good header of the ball and always gave everything he had in a game. It was a tragedy for Roy and Wolves when he was injured at an early age as he would have certainly played for England and won many honours.
If we stayed away overnight I used to room with Dennis who was my best friend. He was a lot faster than most people thought because he was a goal poacher, always in the right place at the right time. He once scored four goals against Scotland and that takes a lot of doing. I would liken him to Jimmy Greaves and Dennis Law. He would not be seen but then he would come into the game and score due to his quickness and great ball control.
Most likely one of the best full backs ever to play for Wolves. He was strong and very fast. Eddie, Jimmy Mullen, Angus McLean and myself could all run the 100 yards in around 10 seconds. Once when I was playing for England I was allowed to throw the ball to the full back. Eddie and I persuaded Stan Cullis to let us try it at Wolves but the ball did not go to Eddie quickly enough and the opposing centre forward nipped in and scored. That was the one and only time Stan allowed us to do that. Stan always wanted me to kick the ball to the wingers or centre forward. He never allowed me to throw it out. Wolves played route one football, you don’t score goals in the middle of the pitch.
You knew that Billy would cover more ground than two players. He was strong in the air and was a genuine Wolves player like we all were in my day. He sacrificed his personal life for the Wolves. He was a real confidence booster in defence as he never gave up running and against six foot forwards he seemed to hang in the air. Billy was captain by example, week in and week out. The first player to get 100 caps for England which speaks volumes.
Molineux training for L-R: Johnny Hancocks, Bert Williams, Jesse Pye and Jimmy Mullen
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