Mick's Football Memories

Mick’s Football Memories – part 4

During the 1950s professional footballers were ordinary people, there was no such thing as a “celebrity”. They were on a maximum wage limit and would earn about the same as a qualified tradesman. Footballers were never seen on the front pages of newspapers, only the sports columns at the back. Most lived in lodgings owned by the clubs and run by landladies employed by them. Many were provided with training for alternative careers, should they not make the grade as a footballer and some had part time jobs. The chairman of the P.F.A. fought long and hard to have the maximum wage limit abolished and was eventually successful. Some chairmen immediately gave star players a significant wage increase. Ultimately this act was the first of many to lead to the situation that exists at the top end of football in this country today. At that time a majority of teams had nearly all English players, just the same as village teams were full of boys from the locality, notable exceptions being teams from the North West, who had several Scottish and Irish players in their teams.

In November 1954 I watched television as Wolves annihilated Spartak Moscow by 4 goals to nil under the Molineux floodlights, all the goals coming in the second half. A month later I watched television again as Wolves beat the then famous Hungarian team Honved. The Honved side contained the great Ferenc Puskas, who was in the Hungarian side that had destroyed England 6-3 at Wembley a year earlier. Wolves came from 2-0 down at half time to win the match by 3 goals to 2. Wolves played further televised high profile floodlit friendlies, beating Moscow Dynamo 2-1 and Real Madrid, including the brilliant Alfredo di Stefano by 3 goals to 2.

At the conclusion of the 1954/55 season Chelsea won the league, with Wolves finishing as runners-up.

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