Walley’s one mistake

Wolves were playing Arsenal in the FA Cup 3rd round in January 1955 and a plan was devised to try and get an advantage over the visitors to Molineux

Manager Stan Cullis, the driving force behind Wolves, talked proudly of a last-minute idea for Roy Swinbourne and Les Smith.  Centre forward Swinbourne was to give a signal calling for a low, in-swinging corner.

Roy quietly gave the signal while all the other players were bunched together in the goalmouth.  As Smith stepped towards the ball Swinbourne raced towards him, deflected the ball the width of an eyebrow, and it flashed inside the near post. Brilliant.  Magnificent.  Quite a goal for a centre forward bidding for a place in the England team.  Yet it should not have happened!  Walley Barnes made his one mistake of the match.  He had just left the full-back’s regular position by the post, precisely the spot for Swinbourne’s header.  Sheer tragedy for the outstanding player on the field.  Barnes delicately etched his mark on the game, he was terrific.  So was Tommy Lawton in the first half, but few other Highbury men matched their Wolverhampton opponents.  Dynamic Bert Williams once more saved Wolves from a replay when Tommy Lawton got up for one of his pre-war thunderbolt headers, flashing the ball just under the bar and Williams spiralled to a back-breaking save.

The greatest save, almost the greatest goal but Wolves won the game 1-0.

Bert Williams saves from Tommy Lawton, two greats of the game

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