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Stanley Cullis was born in Ellesmere Port on 25th October 1916. Cullis played football in the streets. One of his mates was Joe Mercer who later recalled: "Back alley football is only a substitute for the real thing. We always have to right for bigger and better playing fields for children. But, all the same, the back alleys did hold some valuable lessons of their own. For instance, playing with a small ball. If you could control a small hall with certainty, you found later that bringing down a normal ball came more easily. It was wonderful training for the eye."
Cullis and Mercer both played football for Cambridge Road School. They showed outstanding ability and were selected to play for Ellesmore Port Boys against Chester Boys in January 1929. Cullis pointed out in his autobiography, All For the Wolves: Several scouts from Football League clubs came to watch the Ellesmere Port schoolboys' team, but none of them was ever allowed to talk to me." The reason was that his father was a passionate supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers. His father always told them: "When I consider my boy is good enough, he will join Wolverhampton Wanderers."
At the age of 18 Cullis was signed by Frank Buckley as a professional for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Stan Cullis joined Wolves in 1934. Cullis later recalled: "Major Buckley, apparently, decided very quickly that I might make a captain." When Cullis was only 18 years old and in the "A" team he was told by Buckley: "Cullis, if you listen and do as you are told, I will make you captain of Wolves one day."
In his autobiography, All for the Wolves (1960), Cullis claimed: "Buckley spent many hours drilling me in the precious art of captaincy, telling me in no ambiguous terms that I was to be the boss on the field. No youngster of eighteen could ask for a better instructor than the major, who laid the foundations of the modern Wolves during his sixteen years at Molineux".
Cullis made his debut on 16th February 1935 against Huddersfield Town. He did not become a regular member of the first-team until the 1936-37 season. The following season he became captain of the side for the first time. He was 19 years old. On his 20th birthday Major Frank Buckley made him the "official captain of the club".
Cullis won his first international cap for England against Ireland on 23rd October, 1937.England won 5-1 and Cullis kept his place against Wales (2-0) and Czechoslovakia (5-4). The England team that season included Sam Barkas, Eric Brook, Wilf Copping, Albert Geldard, Len Goulden, Stanley Matthews, John Morton, Willie Hall, Bert Sproston and Vic Woodley.
Major Frank Buckley wanted to take his team on a tour of Europe before the start of the 1937-38 season. However, the Football Association refused permission for this to go-ahead due to "the numerous reports of misconduct by players of the Wolverhampton Wanderers Club during the past two seasons."
Stan Cullis and his teammates wrote to the FA claiming: "We would like to state that far from advocating the rough play we are accused of, Major Buckley is constantly reminding us of the importance of playing good, clean and honest football, and we as a team consider you have been most unjust in administering this caution to our manager."
Major Frank Buckley was gradually building up a very good squad that included Stan Cullis, Bill Morris, Dennis Westcott, George Ashall, Alex Scott, Jack Taylor, Tom Galley, Dicky Dorsett, Bill Parker, Bryn Jones, Joe Gardiner and Teddy Maguire. In the 1937-38 season Wolves finished second to the mighty Arsenal in the First Division.
At the time, Arsenal dominated the First Division championship, having won it four times in six years. Alex James, their creative inside-forward, had recently retired. The club was looking for a replacement and Buckley decided to sell his star player, Bryn Jones for the world record fee of £14,000 (£6.9 million in today's money). Politicians were outraged by the money spent on Jones and the subject was debated in the House of Commons.
As Stan Cullis pointed out: "Throughout the middle years of the 1930s, Major Buckley steadily built up the team he believed would capture most of the honours in England. From the large numbers of lads he brought to Molineux for trials, he signed enough professionals both to form his team and to bring in a fortune from the transfer market. At a time when a five-figure transfer fee still astounded the football public, Major Buckley earned £130,000 for Wolves in five years before the 1939-45 war. This spell established Wolves as one of the wealthiest football clubs in Britain."
The following season Cullis played in the games against Scotland (0-1), France (4-2), FIFA (3-0), Norway (4-0) and Northern Ireland (7-0). Wolves also did well in the Football League finishing as runners-up to Everton in the 1938-39 season.
In the 1938-39 season Wolves once again finished second to Arsenal. That season saw the debut of teenagers, Billy Wright and Jimmy Mullen. Wolves also enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup and beat Leicester City (5-1), Liverpool (4-1), Everton (2-0), Grimsby Town (5-0) to reach the final against Portsmouth at Wembley. Wolves lost the final 4-1. Major Buckley's Wolves became the first team in the history of English football to be runners-up in the sport's two major competitions in the same year.
Stan Cullis was knocked unconscious during a game against Everton in the 1938-39 season. He suffered severe concussion that required intensive medical care. His doctors warned him that another serious concussion could kill him.
Stanley Matthews claimed in his autobiography that Cullis was the best header of the ball in the Football League. Tommy Lawton argued that Cullis was "the greatest centre-half I have met". He added: "He had the resilience of a concrete wall, the speed of a whippet, and the footwork of a ballet dancer... He was a footballer, so he spiced his stopper role with some daring raids into enemy territory."
Stan Cullis was appointed captain for England's game against Romania on 24th May 1939. He was only 22 and was therefore the youngest player to obtain this honour. It was his 12th international cap. The England team that day included Wilf Copping, Len Goulden, Tommy Lawton, George Male, Frank Broome, Joe Mercer and Vic Woodley.
On Friday, 1st September, 1939, Adolf Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland. On Sunday 3rd September Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany. The government immediately imposed a ban on the assembly of crowds and as a result the Football League competition was brought to an end. On 14th September, the government gave permission for football clubs to play friendly matches.
Cullis joined the British Army and like many professional footballers, he became a Physical Training Instructor, and did not see any action during the war. He played in 20 wartime internationals, including 10 as captain. He also played friendly games for Wolves, Aldershot, Fulham and Liverpool. In one game a tremendous shot hit him in the face. Once again he suffered from severe concussion and was on the danger list for five days.
Cullis continued to play for Wolves after the war but he was warned by a doctor that because of his previous head injuries, even heading a heavy leather football could prove fatal. Cullis, who had played 155 games for Wolves decided to retire from playing football.
In June 1948 Cullis was appointed manager of Wolves. Cullis insisted that his team should play at a higher tempo than the opposition. He believed that this would pressure them into making mistakes during the game. For this strategy to work, the Wolves players had to be fitter than other clubs. Cullis introduced a new training regime that involved tackling commando-like assault courses. Each player was given specific targets. Minimum times were set for 100 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards, 880 yards, 1 mile and 3 miles. All the players had to be able to jump a height of 4 feet 9 inches. Cullis gave his players 18 months to reach these targets.
In 1949 Stan Cullis led Wolves to the FA Cup final against Leicester City. The team for the final included Johnny Hancocks, Sammy Smythe, Jesse Pye, Jimmy Dunn, Jimmy Mullen, Billy Crook, Roy Pritchard, Billy Wright, Bert Williams, Bill Shorthouse and Terry Springthorpe. Wolves won the game 3-1 with Pye scoring two goals in the first-half and Smythe netting a third in the 68th minute.
In his first season at the club, Cullis led Wolves to FA Cup victory over Leicester City. The following season Wolves finished in 2nd place in the First Division.
In May 1950, Cullis signed Peter Broadbent from Brentford for a fee of £10,000. As Cullis later pointed out: "The club paid a big fee to Brentford for the transfer of Peter Broadbent, a 17-year-old inside-forward from Dover, who, I thought, could well develop into one of the outstanding inside-forwards of his day. Broadbent, in addition to the normal qualities of an inside-forward, also had considerable pace, and a flair for going past a defender in the fashion of a winger."
Peter Broadbent made his debut against Portsmouth in March 1951. He joined a team that included Johnny Hancocks, Sammy Smythe, Jesse Pye, Jimmy Dunn, Jimmy Mullen, Billy Crook, Roy Swinbourne, Roy Pritchard, Billy Wright, Bert Williams, Bill Shorthouse and Terry Springthorpe. He held his place in the team for the rest of the season.
In the 1952-53 season Wolves finished in 3rd place in the First Division. Peter Broadbent formed a great partnership with Johnny Hancocks. As the manager, Stan Cullis, pointed out in his autobiography, All For the Wolves (1960): "We often used him (Broadbent) as an advanced winger lying on the touchline twenty yards or more ahead of Hancocks. When the ball came out of defence to Hancocks, he was able to chip it accurately to Broadbent who was frequently clear on his own. This stratagem, designed to make the fullest use of the best qualities of both players, was also extremely successful, for the full-back marking Hancocks was caught between two men and played out of the game."
Wolves won the First Division championship in the 1953-54 season with Johnny Hancocks as the club's top scorer. Broadbent scored 12 goals that year. The following season the club finished second to Chelsea.
In March 1956 Stan Cullis signed Harry Hooper from West Ham United for a club record fee of £25,000. Cullis wanted him as a replacement for Johnny Hancocks. Cullis later commented that: "Like Hancocks, Hooper was fast, direct, able to play on either wing and was both accurate and powerful in his use of the ball with either foot. In short, he was an ideal winger."
In March 1956 Cullis signed Harry Hooper from West Ham United for a club record fee of £25,000. In short, he was an ideal winger."
In the opening game of the 1956-57 season, Jimmy Murray scored 4 goals in a 5-1 defeat of Manchester City and ended the season with 17 goals in 33 games. In 1957 Norman Deeley replaced Harry Hooper on the right-wing. Cullis argued that: "At Molineux, Hooper found it extremely difficult to adapt himself to our style. He played several outstanding games for us but there was no doubt that he did not carry out our tactical principles to the extent I considered was essential."
Norman Deeley joined a forward-line that included Jimmy Mullen, Jimmy Murray, Peter Broadbent and Bobby Mason. As Ivan Ponting pointed out: "He compensated amply in skill, determination and bravery for what he lacked in physical stature."
When Wolves won the League Championship in 1957-58, Jimmy Murray was the club's leading scorer with 32 goals in 45 games. This included hat-tricks against Birmingham City (5-1) Nottingham Forest (4-1) and Darlington in the FA Cup ( 6-1). Norman Deeley scored 23 goals in 41 appearances that season. This included a spell of 13 in 15 outings during the autumn.
Wolves also won the FA Cup in 1960 with Norman Deeley scoring two of the goals in the 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers. Deeley later recalled he could have had a hat-trick: "Barry Stobart made a good run down the left and got to the byline and whipped a cross in. I'd charged down the middle and Mick McGrath, the Rovers left-half, went with me. He actually reached the ball just before I did by stretching and sliding. With their keeper coming out to collect the cross I watched as the ball beat the keeper and rebounded off McGrath and into the net. It didn't really matter as I would have scored anyway."
In the 1960-61 season Wolves finished in 3rd place behind Tottenham Hotspur. The following season they finished 5th. Cullis was surprisingly sacked in September 1964 after Wolves finished in 16th place in the league.
Cullis worked as a sales representative until being appointed manager of Birmingham City in December 1965. At the time the club was struggling in the Second Division. Cullis failed to get them promoted and in March 1970, he retired from football.
Stan Cullis died on 28th February 2001.
I was an ambitious inside-forward who earned a place in the town's schoolboy team. I was not the only person who was later to lose his urge to score goals. The centre-forward in the same side was Joe Mercer, who later emerged as one of the finest wing half-backs in English football history.
I was born in Ellesmere Port in October 1916, the son of Wolverhampton parents who were among the hundreds who moved out to Ellesmere Port with the Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company. Therefore it was natural that my father insisted that, if I became a professional footballer, it would be with Wolves.
Several scouts from Football League clubs came to watch the Ellesmere Port schoolboys' team, but none of them was ever allowed to talk to me. My father always told them, "When I consider my boy is good enough, he will join Wolverhampton Wanderers."
So, as Joe Mercer moved off to Everton, I stayed behind to play with the Ellesmere Port Wednesday side and, as a lad of 16, I won my first honour with them at Anfield, the Liverpool ground-a runner's-up medal in the Liverpool Hospital Cup.
For many people, Stanley Cullis is the centre-half above all others. His willingness to take a risk by holding the ball in his own penalty area, by his ability to go up-field in a long dribble, and by his astute captaincy, he was outstanding-but people still argue whether it was all for the best... Under the old off-side law, Stan Cullis would probably have ranked as one of the greatest centre-half-backs of all time, although only the old-timers can say how he compared with Charlie Roberts, Joe McCall, Frank Barson, Alex Raisbeck, and other great ones of bygone days.
Probably because of the precedent set by Major Buckley, Wolves have always set a high value on captaincy. Until he retired in 1959, Billy Wright, the England skipper, was one of the best captains in the Football League-and he, like myself, served his apprenticeship under the Major. Billy, too, began as an inside-forward and graduated to centre-half from the wing-half-back position.
Throughout the middle years of the 1930's, Major Buckley steadily built up the team he believed would capture most of the honours in England. At a time when a five-figure transfer fee still astounded the football public, Major Buckley earned £130,,000 for
Wolves in five years before the 1939-45 war. This spell established Wolves as one of the wealthiest football clubs in Britain.
One by one, he introduced his youngsters into the First Division side until, in 1937, I was playing in a team which had grown up with me through the Birmingham Combination side and the reserves. The Major had done a wonderful job and I am sure that if war had not come in 1939, this Wolves' team would have developed quickly into one of the finest in the history of the game. The team-sheet pinned up by the Major in the dressing-room usually read: Scott; Morris, Taylor; Galley, Cullis, Gardiner; Burton, McIntosh, Westcott, Dorsett and Maguire.
Although I captained the Wolves' First Division side at 19, it was in the week of my 20th birthday that I was made official captain of the club and one of my first matches in this exalted position provided a memory which will never leave me. It was on 7 November 1936 when we were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea at Molineux.
After the game a section of the crowd stormed on to the pitch, uprooted the goal-posts and, amongst other things, more or less demanded the Major's head on a charger. Apart from the fact that the team was not doing particularly well, some of the supporters were upset at his transfer activities.
The manager himself was away on a scouting expedition and found a policeman waiting to escort him safely home when he returned to Wolverhampton the same evening. Someone had apparently feared that a 'reception committee' might await him. The Major dismissed the policeman and walked home alone. The indignation soon died down as the team struck a winning vein and finished fifth in the First Division.
In 1938, two years later, the transfer of Bryn Jones brought another wave of protest from our supporters. He went to Arsenal for a reported fee of £14,000, £4,000 more than the previous highest fee in the game's
history. The modest quiet Welshman who now has a newspaper shop near the Arsenal ground came to Wolves on trial from Merthyr and quickly developed into an outstanding inside-forward with an uncanny sense of ball-distribution and ability to find the open spaces.
The morning he had his trial there was a representative of a rival club waiting near the Molineux ground to sign him if Wolves turned him down. The Major, who had a great memory for faces, made quite certain Bryn did not leave the ground until he had signed on the dotted line.
Mr George Allison, the Arsenal manager, saw him as the natural successor to Alex James as the key man in Arsenal's style. The size of the fee... probably weighed heavily on a man who was not attuned to the glamour and publicity of Arsenal. If Bryn had been able to return to Molineux when the critics began to write him off, I am sure he would have recaptured the form which made him one of the greatest of inside-forwards.
The Major himself did not lack a sense of publicity at this time or, for that matter, at any other time. When he introduced injections for the players at Molineux, the Press carried huge headlines on the sporting pages saying that Wolves were having "monkey gland" treatment.
Whether or not monkeys came into the picture I do not know. The injections, which were something quite new in football, were nothing more potent than an immunization against the common cold, and certainly I do not think they ever helped or hindered me. Only Dickie Dorsett, I believe, refused the treatment, although several more players gave it up before the end of the course because it appeared to them to have no effect.
The use of a psychologist also created something of a sensation. On the Major's instructions, I attended the psychologist's surgery in Wolverhampton on some half a dozen occasions. So far as I could gather, he tried to build up my confidence through an analysis of my worries and problems which, at this stage of my career, were not very many.
In one case, I remember, the psychologist did appear to have considerable success with one player who was completely out of form. He had lost his place in the first team after the spectators had barracked him and his confidence was low. Buckley sent him to the psychologist and the results surprised us all. In no time, he had recovered his old zest and soon fought his way back into the First Division side.
Now, of course, we can see that the Major was many years ahead of his contemporaries. Injections are commonly used against the common cold in all walks of life. Meanwhile, in the World Cup of 1958, Brazil brought their own psychologist all the way from South America in order to keep the team in top mental shape and won the competition in magnificent fashion.
So, in April 1939, just five years after I first reported at Molineux, I found myself captain of a Cup Final team who were perhaps the strongest favourites ever to walk out on the green Wembley turf. This Final, the last held before Europe became a battlefield for the world, is still quoted to-day as a fine example of the uncertainty of Cup football.
Wolves, second in the League table, needed only to go through the formality of arriving at Wembley to beat Portsmouth according to most of the critics. Certainly we felt confident that we could defeat a team who stood near the bottom of the Division. But Wolves fell ingloriously and lost by 4-1. To rub salt into the wound, one of Portsmouth's goals was scored by Bert Barlow, the inside-left whom Major Buckley had sold to them earlier in that same season.
Many thousands of words have been written on the reasons for Wolves' downfall in this match. Jimmy Guthrie, the Portsmouth captain, is alleged to have said that his players knew we had nerves when an autograph book which we had signed before the match went into the Portsmouth dressing¬room. Our signatures were supposed to be spidery and shaky. But I suspect this discovery was made after the match.
Other writers claimed, in the inevitable inquests, that it was a mistake for the team to remain in Wolverhampton until the morning of the match, finally to travel to Wembley amid considerable pomp and excitement. There are arguments, of course, on both sides in this matter and I don't think the Major's decision to stay at home until the last minute was the decisive cause of our defeat. Although I believe we would have beaten Portsmouth in ninety-nine matches out of a hundred, it seems that the Wolves of 1939 were destined to become another name on the long list of clubs who have fallen between the twin stools of the Championship and F.A. Cup. This chase for the `double', which has not been achieved for nearly sixty years, imposes a great strain upon the players, and the gods of Football never seem to view kindly the efforts of clubs who try to scoop the pool.
As we walked off Wembley's pitch, bitterly disappointed, we consoled ourselves with the time-honoured thought of the losing side-there is always next year. But, in 1939, there was no next year in the football sense. When next April came around, most of the 22 players who fought out that memorable Final found themselves in services camps far removed from Wembley.
The trouble started in 1938 at Goodison Park, Liverpool, when I collided with Bentham, the Everton centre-forward. It was a complete accident which would not produce any serious consequences in a million other instances. But I was carried off on a stretcher and spent seven days in bed recovering from concussion.
Four or five years later, I played for the British Army against the Scottish Army on the same ground. I was standing on almost the identical patch of turf where I had collided with Bentham when a fierce shot from one of the Scottish forwards caught me on the chin. Again I was carried off, with even more serious consequences, for I spent five days on the danger list in a Liverpool hospital and, altogether, I was on my back for nearly a fortnight.
When I returned to Molineux in 1945, I resolved that a repetition of these incidents could only have one ending - complete retirement from football. My first game in the old gold-and-black shirt of the Wolves after the war was at Luton in a League South fixture. I remember that day well because I was given "the bird" by the crowd. Hugh Billington, the Luton centre-forward who later went to Chelsea, certainly had the better of the tussles at Kenilworth Road but this treatment from the Kenilworth Road crowd - they invariably remind me of it even to-day was not a happy augury for my return to peace-time football.
Then, at Middlesbrough, I went down with concussion once again. The ball, this day, had become heavy and covered with ice from the frozen pitch and, in the course of an exciting match, I was constantly heading it. I later collapsed and was taken from the train at Sheffield on the way home and I spent a week in hospital. There I was examined by the specialist who had recently been consulted by Bruce Woodcock, the Doncaster heavyweight boxer who held the championship of Great Britain. This doctor confirmed my fears when he said that, although I could possibly play for a few more years, he advised me to retire at once. I was only thirty and the thought of retiring so early from the game I loved made me most unhappy.
After considerable thought, I decided to compromise. I would play one more season and, however hard the wrench, I would retire while I was still somewhere near the top of the tree and reasonably well.
Against Hungary, England finally crashed by six goals to three and the medicine was repeated in Budapest the following May when we lost by seven goals to one. There was no doubt that we were a weak footballing nation, a lesson which was impressed forcibly upon managers, players and spectators by the visit of the Hungarians to Wembley. This game, which aroused more public interest than any other in my lifetime, had many and tremendous effects on British football. I am not sure that all of them were for good and I shall develop that point at some length for it appears to me to be important.
The defeats by the Hungarians, however, did hasten the development of a brand of attacking football to replace the negative, defensive thinking which had threatened to strangle the game. It was at this stage that I noticed several clubs were starting to introduce tactical ideas we had employed at Molineux ever since the days of Major Buckley.
As the game still lacked great individual stars, managers were compelled to devise a utilitarian brand of attacking football in which goals were produced more by good team-work and good tactics and less by the brilliance of a Stanley Matthews, a Tom Finney, a Raich Carter or a Jimmy Hagan. At Molineux, the Major had used similar principles in the construction of his team which threatened to dominate English football at the outbreak of war.
Just as Herbert Chapman of Arsenal set the pattern of football in the z93o's when he introduced Herbie Roberts as a defensive centre-half or third-back, so Buckley perhaps introduced the fashion for the 1950's when he devised a quick, forthright style in which frills were reduced to a minimum in the search for a maximum amount of efficiency.
One consequence was the rapid growth of the "two centre-forward" system or, as it is sometimes called, the `poacher' inside-forward and the death of the old WM formation which had long been the basis of football tactics both in England and abroad.
The W of the WM formation denoted a forward formation of two wingers and a centre-forward lying upfield while two inside-forwards playing behind the rest of the line represented the bottom prongs of the W.
Similarly the M referred to the defensive positions with two wing-half-backs lying slightly farther upfield than the two full-backs and the centre-half. Few clubs varied these formations before the war although Major Buckley discarded the W system when he introduced Dick Dorsett to inside-forward in place of Bryn Jones.
Dorsett possessed one of the hardest shots in football and, alongside Dennis Westcott, he scored many goals. These two provided one of the first instances of the "double centre-forward" plan.
Sammy Smythe, who was in the Wolves' forward line which won the F.A. Cup Final at Wembley in 1949, provides a fine example of this contention. Smythe had certain limitations as a footballer, for he was a shade on the slow side and was certainly not in the class of Hagan, Carter or Mamiion as a ball-player.
For a while, he had been playing an ordinary inside-forward's game, linking attack and defence, without making any great impression.
At the start of the 1948-9 season, I thought that Smythe could do for Wolves what Dorsett had done for them before the war. With my coaches at Molineux, I worked hard to persuade Smythe that his best contribution to Wolves could be made as a "poaching" inside-forward and we used him in this style from the start of the season. Despite his slight lack of pace, Smythe was an immediate success, for he scored twenty-two goals in that season including his memorable effort in the Final against Leicester City. Then he beat several defenders before he put the ball into the net for a goal which many people recall as one of the finest ever scored at Wembley.
Smythe at once became a most useful member of the Wolves' team and his goals brought him caps for Northern Ireland. He will always stand out in my mind as a fine example of the fact that correct tactics can enable an average player to make an outstanding contribution to a team because he operates with a maximum efficiency.
The basic pattern of tactics which I try to employ at Molineux is almost elementary and yet I am surprised that many people in football fail to see the wood because of the trees. Under Buckley, I learned the fundamentals of the football which Wolves aim to produce to-day. The Major, seeking to remove every unnecessary frill from the game, taught us to cut out every hint of over-elaboration; not to dribble unless we were forced to; not to make two passes when one was enough.
Today those principles remain as invaluable as they were twenty years ago. The primary duty of a team is to entertain the public and, for entertainment, the people of Wolverhampton demand first of all that Wolves should score at least one more goal than their opponents.
Before Wolves can score a goal, we must have the ball somewhere in the region of the other team's goal and the more often we have it in that part of the field, the more goals we are likely to create.
Consequently, our plan of play is designed to send the ball into the other side's penalty-area with a minimum of delay and to keep it there for as long as possible.
The best method of achieving this end is to ensure that every pass is if, possible, decisive and long rather than pretty and short. Every full-back who plays for Wolves is instructed to find one of his forwards with the pass if he can. Short cross-field passes do not meet with my approval and back-passes are frowned upon severely unless, of course, the circumstances of the moment leave the player with no alternative.
For many years the traditional build-up of attack in English football has seen the full-back pass to the half-back and the half-back, after engaging perhaps in a pointless exchange of passes with another half-back, ultimately sends the ball up to his forwards who, in turn, try to establish another little movement before they reach the penalty-area. I believe, however, that it is necessary to put the ball into the opponents' penalty-area from any quarter of the field in a maximum of three passes-and preferably in two, or, better still, one.
Already, in my playing days at Wolves, we had begun to cut out the wing-half-back as an essential instrument of the attack. As the centre-half, or third back, I was always ordered by Major Buckley to play the ball quickly to Bryn Jones, the inside-left whose job was to transfer it into a shooting position for a colleague with the utmost speed. Although Arsenal employed a similar plan with Alex James at this time, most of the leading English clubs used a slower method of attack-building and, indeed, still do so to-day.
The whole style of play at Molineux is geared towards keeping the ball in the opponents' goal-area for as long as is possible and, if this style of play involves many long kicks from out of our defence, we must accept the label that we are a team which plays "scientific kick-and-rush football". The critics who are ready to brand us in this fashion did not use such caustic terms when the same tactical plans enabled us to build up long spells of severe pressure against Honved of Budapest and Moscow Spartak in the two floodlight games at Molineux which thrilled the millions of people who watched on television.
In each game, Wolves hammered away throughout the second half, offering the defences of these two fine teams from behind the Iron Curtain scarcely a moment of respite in forty-five minutes. We scored three goals in the second half against Honved, the Hungarian champions, to win by 3-2, and four against Spartak, the leading Russian side of the day.
Often Mullen and Hancocks would find one another with long passes which travelled from one touchline to the other twice during the course of an attack. When the ball came into the middle, the defence was often caught in a line straight across the field and Swinbourne, Wilshaw or one of the other forwards was presented with a reasonable chance to score.
At the end of the 1949-50 season, in which we concentrated hard on improving the efficiency of these two fine wingers, Wolves finished second in the Championship, losing first place to Portsmouth only on goal-average.
In later seasons, we were able to gain further advantages from Hancocks's ability to place his passes so accurately. The club paid a big fee to Brentford for the transfer of Peter Broadbent, a 17-year-old inside-forward from Dover, who, I thought, could well develop into one of the outstanding inside-forwards of his day. Broadbent, in addition to the normal qualities of an inside-forward, also had considerable pace, and a flair for going past a defender in the fashion of a winger.
Consequently, we often used him as an advanced winger lying on the touchline twenty yards or more ahead of Hancocks. This stratagem, designed to make the fullest use of the best qualities of both players, was also extremely successful, for the full-back marking Hancocks was caught between two men and played out of the game.
As we were working largely to the law of averages, determined to ensure that the ball spent a far larger proportion of each match in front of the opposition goal than in front of ours, it is a logical sequel that, once we had put the ball into the other team's danger area, we could not afford to allow them to obtain possession of it without a fight. So I needed forwards who could challenge and tackle and struggle for every loose ball.
In 1950, I was fortunate in that I had an ideal player for this type of game in Roy Swinbourne, the young Yorkshireman who came to Molineux from Wath Wanderers, the nursery team of Wolves which is run by Mark Crook, one of our old players. Tall and strong, Swinbourne could gain possession of the ball on the ground and, in the air, he could beat most defenders. As he learned, and removed the rough edges from his game, he developed into a first-class centre-forward for Wolves and was just coming to the peak of his career when he injured a knee in the last minute of a game at Preston.
This unfortunate injury happened early in the 1955-6 season and, although he tried for nearly two years to find his old speed, Swinbourne never recovered from that accident and now he has to be content to referee local games in Wolverhampton. Although the game may have found a first-rate official, football lost a potentially great centre-forward.
At the time of Swinbourne's accident, I knew that Wolves would find it very difficult to replace a key man in the tactical plan. I did not realize that, three years later, as we played in the European Cup for the first time, I would still be without an adequate substitute.
For Swinbourne was one of the few powerful forwards in the modern game who could fight and tackle for every ball in the manner of Peter Doherty, Raich Carter or Jimmy Hagan.
Mr. Cullis, as our chief, and the mainspring on the playing side, possesses a tenacity and drive few other men can equal. As I remarked earlier, I do not always agree with him, but there is no disputing he has in every way proved himself to be one of the most successful managers in modern football. The Stanley Cullis approach to the problems of modern football always makes interesting hearing, and reading, for he thinks most seriously about all aspects of the game and his reactions often intrigue me.
Many managers, when a team is passing through a lean spell, would prefer to sit down and talk over the current problems with his players. But not our chief. As a former player of distinction, he realizes that a player knows when he is playing badly and must be worried.
He never adds to our worries at such a time by large-scale inquests, and I for one deeply appreciate this
approach. Our manager, on the other hand, has very thorough and searching tactical talks when we're doing well, which over the past ten years means we've had plenty of discussions.
One of the great qualities of Stanley Cullis as a manager is that he knows what he wants. The "boss" likes to hear our ideas, and encourages us to air our views. But as our manager he'll tell us when he disagrees, and straight from the shoulder say what he requires from us all.
On a Saturday, if we have not had a team talk, he will always come to the dressing-room before the match to have a word with certain players to discuss the men opposing them. Mr. Cullis's advice is always on target.
During the course of a season our manager spends as much time as possible watching the teams we will oppose. He makes a mental note of the players we will be meeting and he has what I can only term a photographic mind. If Stanley Cullis tells you that your opponent has certain strong qualities, and weaknesses, you can be certain he is giving you the right advice.
In setting out to achieve success on the field for Wolverhampton Wanderers our manager never sets out to copy the tactics of any other club. He has his own individual approach to the game. It is an outlook that has brought with it success to his teams, and, briefly, I think his basic plan is to split the field into three parts. One third of the pitch contains our goalmouth; one third is mid-field; the final third is our opponents' section of the field.
The Wolves plan is a simple one to follow. The idea is to get the ball as often as possible into the third of the field defended by our opponents, for it is from this position the Wolves score their goals.
Further modifications to the tactical plan-although fundamentals remained unchanged-were necessary to cope not only with the retirement of Swinbourne but with the departure of Hancocks too.
The little winger, who was no youngster, left us in 1957 to become player-manager of Wellington Town, the Cheshire League side. My decision to release him was not entirely popular in Wolverhampton but I felt that it was necessary to prepare for the future. Hancocks could not have played in the First Division for very much longer and I had no player of similar style and ability to take over from him.
So, in March 1956, I paid the biggest fee in Wolves' history-the newspapers quoted it as £25,000 - for Harry Hooper, the young West Ham United outside-right, a winger who I thought had all the qualities to succeed Hancocks. I had my eyes on Hooper for a long while before I read in the papers one morning that Tottenham Hotspur were keen to sign him. I went quickly down to London and, although the transfer deadline for that season had gone, I managed to complete the deal.
Like Hancocks, Hooper was fast, direct, able to play on either wing and was both accurate and powerful in his use of the ball with either foot. In short, he was an ideal winger. But, as Burns wrote, the best-laid plans of mice and men "gang aft agley". The Scottish poet might have been writing especially for football managers.
At Molineux, Hooper found it extremely difficult to adapt himself to our style. He played several outstanding games for us but there was no doubt that he did not carry out our tactical principles to the extent I considered was essential.
Two seasons later, Birmingham City made a big offer for the former West Ham winger and, as Norman Deeley had made considerable progress, I decided to release Hooper to St Andrews.
As I have said in earlier chapters, no club can hope to succeed in the tough competition of modern football unless the players combine in their personality three principal factors. They must have tremendous team-spirit, must be superbly fit and must use the correct football tactics on the field.
The object of the training curriculum is to ensure not only that Wolves are faster and stronger if possible than each team they meet in the League, but that they also have sufficient fitness to employ to the best advantage the team-spirit and the tactics which we try to inculcate into them.
Those tactics demand that Wolves play at a tempo which is beyond the capacity of the other side. Because our opponents are forced to play at a pace which is foreign to them, they are likely to make far more mistakes than would be the case if they strolled along at their own sweet rate.
Around 1955 there were quite a number of teams, even in the First Division, who were not trained to a pitch that I would describe as adequate. Now, so far as stamina or speed are concerned, Wolves have lost a little of the advantage which used to be theirs.
The fundamentals of our tactical approach to football at Molineux demand that the ball is moved from one end of the field to the other in the quickest possible time. This involves rapid tackling by every player so that we obtain possession of the ball before the other side has it under control. We cannot send it back into their defensive area until we have possession.
Our players are consequently required to make short sprints of twenty or thirty yards more often and more quickly than most. It is essential that they are able to make those sprints without any effort, even at the very end of a hard game, for, in their ability to do so, lies the difference between victory and defeat.
My war-time experiences in the Army taught me, as they taught many people, that proper training can cause the abnormal achievement to become a normal one. Thus, the man who could not walk a mile with a shopping-basket in 1939 was often marching ten miles at a smart pace with a hefty load on his back by 1943.
At Molineux, we strive to make the abnormal an everyday achievement. I tell my players that they must train until it hurts because it makes them better players on Saturday. If they are taught to run faster and farther in training than is strictly necessary in matches, they will play those matches more easily and with greater confidence.
The main training programme is divided into six parts, each with its own objective, and, as the season lasts for approximately thirty-six weeks, we allow the equivalent of six weeks for each section. The programme aims to co-ordinate these six factors into every player:
iii. Agility which is the co-ordination of mind and muscle.
iv. The scientific application of athletics to football.
v. The conservation of energy.
vi. The utilization of ground coverage.
Stamina is a most important point for, if we are to use tactics designed to force the other side to play at a pace to which they are not accustomed, we naturally need to have a greater reserve of strength than the opposition. Again, if our players are faster than the other side, we must also have the stamina to maintain that advantage until the end of the game.
The foundations of our stamina are laid in the weeks before the start of the season. The work which is done in the four or five weeks of late July and early August pays dividends in the winter months of November, December and January when training is more difficult.
In these early weeks, we build up quickly to regular six-mile runs on the roads outside Wolverhampton. Gradually, too, we step up the pace of those runs until the players are covering the distance in little over half an hour.
The value I placed on this form of training was responsible for the arrival of Frank Morris at Molineux. In all kinds of work, people respond to leadership and neither Joe Gardiner nor myself was fit enough to lead the players regularly on six-mile runs.
Nor can leaders lead on a bicycle. So Morris, a former A.A.A. champion, an international runner and an athletics coach who has always been a keen Wolves' supporter, volunteered his services. Now he is the man who heads the file on those long jaunts and he enjoys it too!
By the time the season opens, the players are as hard as nails, able to play at a cracking pace not only for ninety minutes but for a hundred and twenty minutes if necessary. Once the requisite level of stamina is achieved, it can be maintained without the need for long and regular work on the roads.
Although we sometimes send the players out for a long run, we are generally able to keep to the right tenor by use of careful exercises with weights and perhaps a three-mile run once a week. Weight-training, which involves a circuit of eight specialized exercises, is done in the dressing-rooms and gymnasium.
Wolves, I believe, were one of the first football clubs to make extensive use of weight-training. Now most clubs and, in fact, most sports place considerable confidence in weights to build up both stamina and speed. The hour which our players spend at Molineux in this form of training each week is most important.
If stamina, however, is the basis of proper training, equal emphasis must be placed on speed both of action and thought, on skill and conservation of energy. The training programme at Molineux is devised to take care of all these points.
If the fixture-list does not include a match in mid-week, the Wolves' professionals work for around nine and a half hours each week. The general schedule allows only Sunday as a complete day free from training.
The rest of a typical weekly programme reads:
Monday: Light ball-work for ioo minutes in the morning.
Tuesday: A three-mile run, sprinting, hurdling and agility training for ioo minutes in the morning. Weight-training and ball-work for a similar spell in the afternoon.
Wednesday: A morning practice match or training in football boots for two hours in the morning.
Thursday: Sprinting and running, ball-work in the morning.
Positional and individual coaching in the afternoon. Friday: Sprinting, exercises and light ball-work for an hour.
The ability to run fast on the field, with or without the ball, is of no real value to a player unless his brain is moving at an equal speed. "He'd run out of the ground if they opened the gates," is a phrase often heard on the terraces when a flying winger has lost the ball or held it until he is forced out of play.
That sort of man does not win Championships, so a considerable part of the training time at Molineux is designed to co-ordinate mind and muscle. The athletics training is arranged in such a way that a player has to move quickly and think quickly at the same time.
1934 to 1947: Wolverhampton Wanderers
Cullis came to the Wolverhampton Wanderers as a teenager and initially played in various youth teams of the club. On February 16, 1935 he made his debut in the first team, which was then in the Football League First Division , the first division in a 2: 3 defeat by Huddersfield Town . At first he was only used sporadically, but from the 1936/37 season he was a regular player and shortly thereafter became team captain .
Under Cullis, the Wolves (wolves) played very successfully, which two second places in the league in 1938 and 1939 and reaching the FA Cup final in 1939 prove. However, when the Second World War broke out , his career was interrupted. Although he completed 34 games for Wolverhampton and a few guest appearances for Liverpool , Fulham and Aldershot FC during the war , he spent the best years for a player mainly in military service with the Royal Air Force .
After the war ended, Cullis only played one season (1946/47) for the Wolves before he ended his playing career due to an injury and entered the coaching business. He played a total of 171 games for the Wanderers, 152 of them in the league.
1937 to 1939: English national team
Cullis played for the Three Lions for the first time in a 5-1 win over Ireland on October 23, 1937 . Before the war, he completed 12 more international matches. In the last of these games - against Romania - he replaced the regular captain Eddie Hapgood , who had been battered before the game, and thus had the honor of leading his country at the age of 22. During the war, only so-called Wartime Internationals (internationals in the war) took place, of which he completed 20, which, however, were not counted as full internationals. In ten of these 20 games he was team captain .
Stan Cullis - History
John Richards and Gordon Taylor, fellow Lancastrians who became regular opponents in Wolves-Birmingham clashes, are to join forces next month in honour of Stan Cullis.
The two men are to attend a ceremony in memory of Molineux’s most successful all-time boss in his birthplace, Ellesmere Port.
A plaque is to be unveiled at the Iron Manager’s former school on June 17, with the PFA throwing their support behind the honour.
“The PFA is keen to take the stories of former pupils who became great football stars back into the schools they attended,” said Taylor, the players union’s long-time chief executive. “It will be the third time we have unveiled plaques to legends at the schools they attended.
“In 2018, Harry Gregg and Alex Williams performed the joint ceremony to Frank Swift and Jimmy Armfield at Revoe School, Blackpool. And, in 2019, Brian Kidd and John Aston Jnr did the honours for John Aston Snr at Ravensbury Community School, Manchester. They were both great events in which pupils played major roles.”
Wolves Heroes have made a small congtribution to the forthcoming occasion by contacting Cullis’s son, Andrew, to tell him of a tribute which he will also be attending.
Also on the guest list are Wolves director John Gough and the Mayor of Ellesmere Port, Councillor Lisa Denson, the Merseyside town having spawned Joe Mercer, Graham Turner and Doug Ellis as well.
Cullis’s education began at Cambridge Road Primary School, whose head teacher Darryl Pickering said: “We are delighted to play a small part in honouring a former pupil. Some of the children will assist with the unveiling and are working on a series of arts projects associated with Stan Cullis and these will be on display on the day and permanently thereafter.
“Thanks to some local sponsorship, we are also buying a trophy and intend organising a local annual Stan Cullis football tournament. He was an outstanding professional and a credit to Cambridge Road Primary School and Ellesmere Port.”
Wolves Heroes co-owner Richards, who is from just down the road in Warrington, said: “Stan created a team that was the most successful in the club’s history. He was idolised in Wolverhampton – and quite rightly so. Not only did Wolves win three League titles and two FA Cups, he also created a team which could compete at the highest level with the European giants such as Honved, Moscow Dynamo and Real Madrid.
“His teams set the standard. Our 1970s side, and every other one since, is compared to and measured against the successes of the Stan Cullis era. He set a high bar which no other team or manager has come close to reaching. His accolade as Wolves’ greatest ever manager is richly deserved. “
The Reverend Andrew Cullis added: “I was delighted when I heard that the school where my dad was a pupil was planning to put up a plaque in his memory. Some years ago, I saw the house where he lived and it will be very special to visit the area again and see his old school – and enjoy such a wonderful occasion.”
Later this year, a plaque to Joe Mercer will be unveiled at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall.
Juniorina Cullis pelasi Ellesmere Portin paikallisessa seurassa. Usea isompi seura oli kiinnostunut hänestä, mutta 1934 hän siirtyi Wolverhampton Wanderersiin 17-vuotiaana. Cullis valittiin heti juniorijoukkueen kapteeniksi ja kaksi vuotta myöhemmin hän nousi edustusjoukkueen kapteeniksi. Wolverhampton sijoittui 1. divisioonassa Cullisin pelatessa toiseksi 1938 ja 1939. Wolverhampton pääsi myös FA Cupin loppuotteluun 1939, mutta hävisi sen Portsmouthille. 
Cullis valittiin Englannin maajoukkueeseen ensimmäisen kerran 1937. Toukokuussa 1939 hänestä tuli maajoukkueen nuorin kapteeni 22-vuotiaana. Cullis edusti maajoukkuetta 12 maaottelussa ennen toisen maailmansodan syttymistä. Sodan aikana hän pelasi myös lukuisia epävirallisia maaotteluita. 
Sota katkaisi Cullisin pelaajauran. Hän palveli armeijassa ja sodan loputtua hänellä oli aluksi vaikeuksia palata jalkapalloon. Cullisin peliotteet kuitenkin paranivat ja Wolverhampton oli jälleen lähellä mestaruutta, mutta jäi toiseksi hävittyään kauden viimeisen ottelun. Cullis päätti lopettaa pelaamisen ja ryhtyi Wolverhamptonin apuvalmentajaksi. 
Vuonna 1948 Cullisista tuli Wolverhamptonin päävalmentaja. Cullis oli erittäin vaativa valmentaja, mutta hänen johdollaan Wolverhampton menestyi loistavasti. Wolverhampton voitti FA Cupin 1949 ja 1960, ja Englannin mestaruuden 1954, 1958 ja 1959. Lisäksi Wolverhampton oli 1950-luvulla kolmesti toinen ja kolmesti kolmas. Wolverhampton saavutti Cullisin valmennuksessa myös menestystä Euroopassa ennen Euroopan cupin perustamista. Wolverhampton muun muassa voitti vuonna 1954 maailman parhaana pidetyn Honvédin 3–2. 1960-luvulla Wolverhampton taantui ja lopulta 1964 Cullis sai potkut. 
Vuonna 1965 Cullis ryhtyi Birmingham Cityn valmentajaksi vaikka hän oli päättänyt jättää jalkapallon kokonaan. Cullis ei saavuttanut Birminghamissa samaa menestystä kuin Wolverhamptonissa. Hän erosi seurasta 1970. 
Cullis oli loistava puolustaja ja taitava pallollisena pelaajana. Häntä pidetäänkin yhtenä aikansa parhaista puolustajista. Cullis on valittu muun muassa Englannin jalkapallon ja Wolverhamptonin kunniagalleriaan.  
Cullis oli naimisissa ja hänellä oli kaksi lasta. Pelaajauran jälkeen hän työskenteli valokuvausalalla. Cullis kuoli helmikuussa 2001 84-vuotiaana. 
England vs Germany: The Player Who Refused to Do The Nazi Salute
Football in 1938 was overshadowed by the spectre of geopolitical conflict. The Nazis ruled in Germany, Neville Chamberlain was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Manchester United finished runners-up in the Second Division.
The last game between England and Germany before the outbreak of the Second World War was a friendly at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin in 1938. The match is remembered more for its political overtones than the football dished out by the two teams.
England had been touring Germany since 1899 and up until the match in Berlin, the Three Lions dominated the fixture with scorelines that read 12-0, 10-0 and 9-0, among other lopsided numbers.
By 1938, the Germans had somewhat improved. The first official full international between the two teams took place in 1930 when they met in Berlin. England, leading the game twice, went behind 3-2 before a late strike from Arsenal legend David Jack brought the scores level.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had risen to power in Germany. The first match England played against Nazi Germany was in 1935 and at White Hart Lane of all places. Home to Tottenham Hotspur, a club noted for its significant Jewish following, the venue of the match raised many eyebrows.
Three months before the match, the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed which criminalized intermarriage or sexual relations between Jews and ‘persons of German or related blood’.
Despite suspicions, the choice of venue did not have any political intent. As during that time England played their internationals not at Wembley but at iconic stadiums, mostly in London, White Hart Lane was coincidentally in line to host the next international as Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium had already hosted three matches.
“No recent sporting event has been treated with such high seriousness in Germany as this match … Between 7,500 and 8,000 Germans will travel via Dover, and special trains will bring them to London. A description broadcast throughout Germany … Sir Walter Citrine, General Secretary of the TUC, in a further letter to Sir John Simon, the Home Secretary, said that ‘such a large and carefully organised Nazi contingent coming to London might confirm the impression among people in this country that the event is being regarded as of some political importance by the visitors’,” read a report in The Observer.
England comfortably won the match 3-0 courtesy of a brace from George Camsell and a goal from Cliff Bastin.
“So chivalrous in heart and so fair in tackling were the English and German teams who played at Tottenham in mid-week that even the oldest of veterans failed to recall an international engagement played with such good manners by everybody,” The Observer noted.
In 1938, England were to play Germany at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. As was customary then, the English players were forced to do the ‘Nazi salute’.
Stan Cullis, former Wolverhampton Wanderers player and coach, was the only player in the England side who refused to do the salute when the German national anthem blared from the loudspeakers. He was subsequently dropped from the team due to his actions.
The British Olympic team had caused offence two years ago in the 1936 Olympics for not giving the Nazi salute therefore England captain Eddie Hapgood was under pressure from the ‘authorities’ to not create any controversy.
It is believed that the United Kingdom’s Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, was consulted, but it is still disputed whether he ordered the team to perform the salute or not. Stanley Rous, the FA secretary who went on to become the President of FIFA, is also said to have influenced the actions of England players.
The decision to carry on with it did not bode well with the players in the dressing room but Cullis was reportedly the only player to flatly refuse to be a part of the charade.
England won the game 6-3 with the goals coming from Stanley Matthews, Frank Broome, Leonard Goulden, Clifford Bastin and a brace from John Robinson.
For Cullis to stand up to the British government and the FA’s cowardice towards the Nazis speaks volumes about his moral fortitude. Cullis’ 12 England internationals could have easily been 13 had he acquiesced with what had been ordered.
A centre half by trade, Cullis was also the captain of Wolves at that time. Although his international career was marred by the outbreak of the Second World War, he went on to become one of the best English managers of all time having led Wolves from 1948 to 1964 in what was one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
At Wolves, he became the youngest manager to win the FA Cup at the age of 31 in 1949. He also led them to three First Division titles in 1954, 1958 and 1959.
Wolves were a continental force under Cullis. Before the formation of the European Cup, the Cullis-led Wolves beat the mighty Budapest Honved side 3-2 at the Molineux. The Honved side consisted of players such as Sandor Kocsis, Ferenc Puskas and others who, only a year ago, had hammered England 6-3 at Wembley playing for Hungary.
Wolves’ win is said to have played a huge role in the eventual formation of the European cup.
Cullis passed away at the age of 84 in 2001. A bona fide legend at Wolves, a stand at the Molineux is named after him and his statue is installed outside the stadium.
Jeff, I don’t Love You Like I Did Yesterday.
Stan Cullis, Wolves
Well Jeff, how are things? Just throwing a quick few notes out to let you know how things are going. It seems like everything is going well at Molineux towers apart from the fact you don’t talk to us any more. That’s a real crying shame. I don’t know who has given you that advice, that perhaps the best thing would be to drive away Wolves fans from the club with some extremely dodgy communications and policies over the past few months. Now I’m not going to go over the small print about how you have put our noses out of joint, it’s pointless and negative. But Jeff…really? What have we done to deserve this? Haven’t we done everything that was expected of us? Haven’t we welcomed you with open arms? We expected partnership but got a mouth full of ashes in return. We expected to get on the Crazy Train with you but turned up at the station and found you had already left.
What have we done wrong? We have supported you 100% throughout these short years you have been involved with the club and now we find that we really are the most disgusting thing you can have at a football club like ours. A customer. A knobhead who just hands money over with no real interest in how our club is being run. Here’s a little description of what a ‘club’ means. A club is an association of people united by a common interest or goal. But I don’t think we are united in any way. You have tried in fact to sew division within the fan base. I mean fucking hell Jeff we are always divided, that’s Wolves. One Pack? Bollocks Jeff, many packs now and it’s getting worse. You are destroying what makes history, what made Wolves a ‘brand’ if you like. It’s not even anger I feel but inspiration really. I’m not crying over Fosun Jeff, I’m really not. This last game ticket lottery. Why? Either you are stupid and just rushed out this incredibly brain dead idea (which I doubt) or you are doing it on purpose to divide and shatter the heart of the club. But we don’t know either way because no one speaks to us any more and to be fair to Moxey and Morgan at least we had the odd mumbling bullshit press release or idea off them. I know your minions read Social media so what have they said? All going to plan or fucking hell another cock up?
But yes inspired. Fosun inspired me to be honest. I actually took on every little message Fosun farted out into cyberspace and made it mine. I looked at what my club had become and I didn’t like it but I shut up and carried on waving your fucking flag. There wont be any more flag waving for sure. You don’t like people using the ‘Wolverhampton Wanderers’ name? Tough shit, it’s not yours. I mean you may hold a bit of paper saying it’s a trade mark and ‘yours’ but it’s not really and you know it. You can try and grab everything you can but you are grasping at air Jeff. It really isn’t yours. Wolverhampton Wanderers is our club not yours…is it sinking in yet? Do you really want a battle? We are a small group but we are very adaptable, we evolve very quickly, we move a lot faster than you can Jeff. The blows we will land may be few but they will be hard and they will hurt you.
Fosun have made a massive cock up. Yes, this global brand with investments and cash and political might and this and that but Jeff you have made a massive mistake in trying to have a pop at the fan base. Because 12 months ago you could have made massive PR gains in just engaging with us instead of some hand picked fucking Gonk you parade around at events. I’m inspired Jeff, because now I know you and Fosun are not infallible…you make mistakes. So this big mistake sits there on Social Media and in the streets like a stinking turd. We don’t trust you any more. You have thrown away that right. All across the world things are changing Jeff. That focus group model you and Fosun have adopted is old hat, it’s yesterdays groove. Are you going to continue to sail that particular ship come what may? I don’t advise it. You will fall, you will be called back to China and you will have to face the music….talk to us Jeff, throw caution to the wind and talk. Don’t send out the Communications suits, they haven’t got a clue. Jeff they are not fit for purpose.
Inspired Jeff. That inspired that you have forced me and a few other concerned supporters to form an independent supporters association. We are going to call it ‘The Stan Cullis Appreciation Society’ and we are going to build it up as far as we can, as big as we can make it. I have been talking to supporters around the World to find out how we would form something, make something real and concrete. A balance if you like to the fallible abstract entity you represent in Fosun. We will have some clout too. I’ve been talking to local Councillors and have been getting extremely good feedback. You see we vote these doughnuts back into their jobs every few years, often their nice Council positions are defined by maybe a 100 votes here and there. Votes that are made by fans of Wolves. There are a lot of us you know. Now they will listen to our concerns because at some point their jobs might depend on it. You inspired me to do that Jeff. I have made links with fans in Argentina/Brazil/Peru/Mexico/USA/Russia/Germany/France/Italy. I am talking to a person in our National Government. I am talking Jeff and organising.
Talk. That’s the keyword here Jeff. Talking is everything and you have an opportunity to engage with this group from the start. Perhaps. Who is on board? Youth, the future of the club. They will play a massive part in SCAS and I am gathering these angry beings into a cohesive unit. Older fans, now Magistrates, Politicians, Business men and women. We will reach out to every under represented group in Wolverhampton and we will give them a forum to discuss action and effort. Jeff, we are organising because you have made us do it and our backs are against the wall….but surely you know enough about Wolves fans to know that we love a scrap where we are outnumbered. Jeff, the map is not the territory. There is a lifeblood that throbs in these streets that you haven’t really got a clue about…another Fosun failing. Lot of them happening lately aren’t there?
Why Stan Cullis? Well Jeff you know he refused to perform a Nazi salute when England played Germany in 1938. They dropped him from the team. But not once did he regret his refusal. A single entity Jeff, this man Cullis is everything we hope to be. The Society will take on all the moral fortitude and strength that Stan showed that day 14th May 1938. It will be fitting that we will officially launch the Society on that date I think. Jeff it’s going to be good I hope. The people involved are brilliant people and they are resolute just like Stan was. It would be fantastic to have maybe 20k Wolves fans as members…a real force in Independent Football Supporters groups. I envisage membership to hit that in maybe two years after consultation with other groups. Will you speak to us then? I know you tend to brush off the concerns of the Oi Polloi like us, it’s obvious we aren’t important any more to you. But hold that thought Jeff. Maybe it would be positive to talk to us and hear our concerns. Maybe it would be good for you to find out the zeitgeist in those stands before you ham fistedly pronounce another PR cock up. At the moment the whole Fosun groove is a blunt ineffectual attempt to take the club to a bigger stage, more profit, more kudos on a global stage. You are failing Jeff. The Fosun algorithms are defunct. Culture especially English football culture is the honey pot for global football fans to get sticky in and Jeff, we are the people that make the honey. Not the team or the success but the fans, supporters, the lovers of the club.
Now you have a great opportunity to engage with us from the beginning. At the moment I am just a knobhead who is talking and organising but it wont be me you will be talking to. I will help set up and start the group but better women and men than me will be a part of it. It will be launched in the close season and hopefully fully up and running by the time we kick off. Forget Nuno and the team for the moment. Our concerns are not with them yet, it’s with you and Fosun. Will you speak to us when we are 20k strong? I hope so, we have much to say.
Stan Cullis's Wolves team 'the third most successful side in history'
Stan Cullis's Wolves team have been named the third most successful side in history, according to a new study.
And that's a long overdue nod of acclaim for a team and a manager the wider football world stands accused of under-valuing in modern times.
Based on the period from 1951-61 when Wolves won the League three times and the FA Cup, Cullis's great side comes out behind only Manchester United from 1992-2002 and Liverpool from 1979-89.
But it still sees Wolves finish ahead of some of English football's most celebrated teams – Matt Busby's United from 1946-56, Chelsea from 2001-11, Bill Nicholson's push-and-run Tottenham from 1956-66, Arsenal under Arsene Wenger from 1996-2006, Don Revie's Leeds from 1964-74, Arsenal's post-War side from 1945-55 and Preston's 1950-60 outfit.
The study was undertaken by Dr Ian McHale, director of the centre for sports business at Salford Business School, and chair of the Royal Statistical Society's sports section, which he claims objectively determines the greatest English teams of all time.
And one of the players drawn to Wolves because of that famous floodlit era welcomes the findings.
"It's long overdue," said John Richards. "Most football people growing up post the Second World War, regardless of the club they supported, would recognise Wolves as being the leading team of that era.
"It was without doubt their time. They set so many standards and made so many breakthroughs. It surprises me that other teams have since been given a higher standing.
"There was always a theory that the Midlands was a neglected area and certainly, by the time we went into the 1970s, even after Forest and Villa won the European Cup, there was still a feeling the media spotlight was never as big here as it was in London or in the north."
McHale, a Liverpool fan, decided to undertake the project after being teased that Manchester United were better than the Reds.
He looked at English domestic statistics from the foundation of the Football League in 1888 until the end of the 2011-12 season, taking in 206,843 games in which 601,039 goals were scored, and including any team which has played at least 250 matches.
His research uses methodology similar to that used by bookmakers to predict results but looks back into the past and takes account of varying team strength over time.
The study generated a top 10 for the strongest side over a single year/season and a top 10 for the most dominant team over a 10-year period.
During their stellar decade, Wolves won 220 out of their 420 League games, scoring 949 goals, including a never-to-be-matched 100-plus in four consecutive seasons from 1957-61.
What it doesn't take into account were the famous floodlit friendlies pioneered by Cullis as a forerunner to the European Cup and Champions League.
Wolves took on and beat the cream of the continent's best club sides, including Honved, Moscow Dynamo, Moscow Spartak, Red Star Belgrade and Real Madrid, and there's also no accounting for the effect on the next domestic game after travelling from the different corners of Europe.
It's impossible to give a true answer to how one great team would compare against one from a different era. But McHale believes he has come as close as possible.
"If you consider domestic championships and cups, many people would argue you can't look beyond one of the great Liverpool sides of 1970s and 1980s, or Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United teams of the 1990s or the early part of this century, as the greatest English club team ever," said McHale.
"Wolves is a great example from the 1950s, like Manchester City now, of a club who have had long lean spells, but you can see the trajectory and the lifespan of their best team."
Great Reputations: Wolves 1957-60 – the mighty men from Molineux
CHAMPIONS of the World! That was how Wolverhampton Wanderers were known for a while when they beat some of Europe’s best club sides in the mid-1950s. Of course, these were mostly in the pre-European Cup era, when foreign teams were as familiar to British audiences as Martians. But in the early floodlit days, there was something magical about Wolves’ encounters with Russian and Hungarian sides – mysterious teams from behind the Iron Curtain. It was Cold War football at its best!
My friend Stan
The driving force behind the great Wolves sides of the 1950s was Stan Cullis, who had played for the club either side of the second world war. Cullis became one of the youngest managers in history when he was put in charge at Molineux at the age of 31. He became the most successful manager in Wolves’ history.
Cullis placed huge emphasis on fitness and power. His approach was not always appreciated by other clubs, who saw the Cullis style as a sophisticated “kick and rush”. It certainly relied upon fitness, pace and aggression but it was not a case of kick it anywhere at all costs – the long balls encouraged by Cullis were played into space for onrushing wingers. This exploited the speed of players like Johnny Hancocks and Jimmy Mullen.
When Wolves beat teams like Honved and the press hailed Wolves as the best club side in the world, it was, to some extent, an act of desperation. English football was anxious to redeem itself after the two humiliations at the hands of the Hungarian national side. Wolves did not have a superior technique, as their record in Europe during this period eventually proved. Nevertheless, between 1953 and 1960, Wolves were one of the top sides in Britain, and it was largely down to Cullis.
Our friends across the English channel were not convinced, however. The French scoffed at the claim that Wolves were the best club side around and soon got to work on establishing a European competition to prove that theory. Within no time, the European Cup was launched, although Wolves could not enter as they were no longer Football League champions in 1955.
The class of ‘54
Cullis took over as manager in 1948 from the famed Major Frank Buckley. In his first season in charge, Wolves won the FA Cup, beating Leicester City in the final. In his second season, Wolves were only denied the championship by Portsmouth’s better goal average.
It wasn’t until 1953-54 that Wolves finally won the league for the first time. They finished four points clear of West Bromwich Albion, netting 96 goals in 42 games. This was a team that included the great Bert Williams in goal, half backs Bill Slater and Billy Wright and a free-scoring forward line comprising Hancocks, Dennis Wilshaw and Roy Swinbourne.
The race went to the final game, with Albion slipping up at Portsmouth while Wolves beat Tottenham with two Swinbourne goals to secure their first title.
In the aftermath of Munich
Wolves were unlucky not to regain their title in 1955, losing out to a workmanlike Chelsea side, but although they were always among the favourites, they had to wait until 1957-58 to win the championship again.
Between 1957 and 1960, there was little doubt that Wolves were the top side in England. But would they have been as revered if the Busby Babes hadn’t perished in the snow of Munich? It’s a possibility that Cullis and his well-drilled squad may not have enjoyed so much success. Certainly in 1957-58 and 1958-59 there would have been more opposition for the Football League title. We shall never know, but it is fair to assume that had United’s talented bunch lived, they may well have completed a hat-trick of titles in 1958. But it is worth noting that after United’s last game before flying to Munich, they were third in the table, six points behind leaders Wolves and when the two sides had met earlier in the campaign, Wolves won 3-1 at Molineux.
Wolves filled the void left by Duncan Edwards, Roger Berry, Tommy Taylor and co. and became the team to beat as Manchester United rebuilt their stricken squad. They lost just six league games in 1957-58 and ended up scoring 103 goals in 42 games as they won their second title. They finished five points clear of Preston North End.
The Wolves side had changed considerably from the 1954 team. Malcolm Finlayson had taken over from Williams in goal. Wolves and England stalwart Wright was still there, joined in the half-back line by Ron Flowers, and the goals came from Jimmy Murray, Norman Deeley and Peter Broadbent.
Wolves demonstrated in 1958-59 that their title win was no fluke. It was pretty much the same side and the same style of play. They won it by six points, scored over 100 goals once more and finished the campaign with a 13-game unbeaten run.
For the first time, they had the chance to play in Europe, but their European Cup run ended at the first hurdle, losing to Schalke of West Germany. In 1959-60, they had another attempt but after beating East Germans Vorwaerts and Red Star Belgrade of Yugoslavia, they were crushed 9-2 on aggregate by Barcelona. The doubting French smiled.
Wolves were denied a hat-trick of titles by just one point in 1959-60, with Burnley the unlikely champions. It also deprived Cullis of the “double” because Wolves went on to win the FA Cup in 1960. But the final against Blackburn Rovers, won 3-0 at Wembley, was not without controversy.
Blackburn claimed that Wolves were dirty and Cullis’ side were jeered at the end of the game by a large chunk of the crowd. Wolves were also showered with rubbish as they left the field of play. “We seem to be an unpopular side,” said Bill Slater, who skippered Wolves to victory.
Wolves had one more good campaign, but in 1961-62, they finished 18 th and in 1965, were relegated to Division Two. Just a few weeks into 1964-65, Cullis was sacked, much to the disgust of Wolves fans and a section of the media. Wolves never had it so good again.
And how good were they?
A recent study has revealed that Wolves of the Cullis era was the third most successful club side of all time in England. Only Manchester United (1992-2002) and Liverpool (1979-89) bettered their record. This was a study by Dr Ian McHale of Salford Business School and chair of the Royal Statistical Society’s sports section. Wolves won 220 out of 420 league games in their golden decade, scoring 949 goals. Enough said, really.
Champions of the world: Wolves and the Stan Cullis era
FLOODLIT NIGHTS at Molineux hold a special place in the pantheon of European football. In the early 1950s, international friendlies between the leading clubs from around Europe became a regular occurrence. These matches were taken extremely seriously by those involved as, in the absence of any major European club competition at the time, this was the only way that the continent’s elite could measure themselves against one another.
Capitalising on the recent addition of floodlights to their ground, Wolverhampton Wanderers and their manager Stan Cullis arranged a series of high-profile night matches against opponents from around the world including Celtic, Spartak Moscow and Maccabi Tel-Aviv. The most famous of these prestigious ties took place on 13 December 1954, when Wolves faced the daunting task of taking on Hungarian champions Honvéd.
Honvéd were widely regarded as being the greatest club side in the world at the time, and their squad featured six members of the Hungarian national team that had famously dismantled England on two separate occasions over the past 13 months. The likes of Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis and Jožef Božik headed to the West Midlands hoping to show off their skills to the smug English public.
Upon their arrival, however, they were welcomed by the vociferous roar of 55,000 supporters and a quagmire of a pitch. At first, this did not seem to have any effect on the Hungarians’ intricate passing and intoxicating wing play as they surged into a two-goal lead. First, Kocsis opened the scoring with a powerful header from a Puskás free-kick before Ferenc Machos raced past the Wolves defence to double the scoreline. Cullis’s men struggled to stay in the game and if it wasn’t for their goalkeeper, Bert Williams, pulling off a series of inspired saves, Wolves would have been even further behind.
It took until the second half for Wolves’ fortunes to change, admittedly thanks to some underhand tactics from their manager. At half-time, the cunning Cullis sent a number of his staff out to water an already sodden pitch. One of the men instructed to do so was a young Ron Atkinson, who was an apprentice at the club at the time. Years later Atkinson remarked, “There is no doubt in my mind that, had Cullis not ordered me and my mates to water the pitch, Honvéd would have won by about 10-0.”
The boggy Molineux surface seemed to have a detrimental effect on the Hungarian side and, almost immediately, Johnny Hancocks pulled a goal back for Wolves from the penalty spot. Two late goals in three minutes from Roy Swinbourne then turned the game on its head to secure a famous victory.
The game was regarded as such an important event that the BBC had decided to broadcast the second half on television, which was highly unusual at the time. In fact, watching at home in Belfast was an eight-year-old George Best , who, after witnessing the special second half comeback, was inspired to become a Wolves supporter.
However, to the disappointment of many neutrals tuning in, Puskás did very little all night and was forced to play out on the left wing in a desperate search for space. This was partly down to the imperious defensive work of the Wolves rearguard, of whom Billy Wright was particularly majestic. The Guardian’s report of the game referred to him as “a tower of strength”, which was some redemption for Wright after his performance in England’s famous 6-3 defeat to Hungary 13 months earlier, where one attempt at preventing a Hungarian goal had been described as “like a fire engine going to the wrong fire”.
Read | Sándor Kocsis: the quiet Hungarian who was as good as Puskás
After the game Cullis proclaimed that his side were “champions of the world”. The following day’s newspaper headlines echoed his words around the nation, with Wolves’ performance held aloft as evidence that the English way of football was still the best way.
The European media were not so convinced by the claims of the boastful English, with French journalist Gabriel Hanot writing in L’Equipe: “Before we declare that Wolverhampton are invincible, let them go to Moscow and Budapest. And there are other internationally renowned clubs: Milan and Real Madrid to name but two.”
And so it was: the following season the European Cup came about.
Ironically, Cullis and his team would not participate in the first edition of the competition after finishing First Division runners-up behind Chelsea, who themselves would be prevented from competing due to the stubbornness of the English FA, who saw the tournament as a distraction to domestic football. However, Wolves would go on to play in the European Cup twice, the first of which was in 1958-59 when they were disappointingly knocked out in the first round by Schalke 04. The following year, Wolves would lose 9-2 on aggregate to Barcelona in the quarter-final, prompting Cullis’s side to give a guard of honour to their opponents as they left the Molineux pitch.
Wolves never did officially become European champions. Nevertheless, they can lay claim to having a major influence on both domestic and European football during the 1950s in what was by far the most successful period in the club’s history.
Following on from the success of the Honvéd game, Wolves went on to host friendlies against the great Lev Yashin’s Dynamo Moscow and Alfredo Di Stéfano’s Real Madrid, in which they triumphed 3-2 over the European champions.
The manager at the time was Cullis, a former Wolves captain, who had also captained England on 10 occasions. As a player, Cullis was powerful in the air and robust in the tackle. His entire playing career had been spent at Molineux but the Second World War would deprive him of his best years and he would only go on to make 171 appearances for the club during a 13-year playing career.
The outbreak of war, in which Cullis served as a Physical Training Instructor, halted the careers of many of the greatest European players of that generation and would ultimately deny Cullis the opportunity to build on the 12 full international caps he had won for his country.
Cullis had originally joined the club in 1934 after a trial at Bolton Wanderers and would go on to make his debut the following year before becoming club captain within a few years. Under his captaincy, Wolves would finish First Division runners-up in both 1938 and 1939 before the onset of war would go on to devastate the continent.
Once the war was over, Cullis returned to the West Midlands to resume his footballing career. After the disappointments of coming so close in the late 1930s, the Ellesmere Port-born defender was presented with a golden opportunity to guide Wolves to their first ever league championship in 1946/-47 as they headed into their final game against Liverpool two points ahead of their opponents at the First Division summit.
However, it was not to be for Cullis as a late Liverpool winner secured a 2-1 victory and meant that the championship trophy would be heading back to Merseyside. It would prove to be doubly disappointing for Cullis as Liverpool’s winning goal had come when Albert Stubbins, whose later claim to fame would be that he featured on the cover of the The Beatles iconic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, rounded him on his way to slotting home.
Wolves supporters were despondent and despaired that their captain had not taken the opportunity to bring down the Liverpool forward. When asked by the press pack afterwards why he had not done so, he stated that he had no desire to be remembered as a captain who had won his team the league through cheating.
The Liverpool game would turn out to be Cullis’s final game in a Wolves shirt as injury forced him to hang up his boots at the age of 31. Following a short spell as assistant, he was appointed manager of his beloved Wolves in 1948. During his playing days he had developed a reputation for being something of a hard man, but at the same time he possessed an extremely sharp footballing brain. It was this quality that led to his appointment he did not disappoint, becoming the youngest ever manager to lift the FA Cup during his first season in charge. This was the club’s first trophy since 1908.
It did not take long for Wolves supporters to believe in the managerial ability of their hero, who appeared to be doing a fine job of building on the foundations that his former manager Major Frank Buckley had put in place.
The 1949-50 season saw Wolves challenging for the title yet again, with Cullis seeking to make amends for that Liverpool defeat by leading his troops to glory. Yet again they were thwarted, this time missing out on goal average to Portsmouth. Wolves would then be forced to wait a few years before challenging for the title again following two lacklustre campaigns at the beginning of the 1950s, in which they finished 14th and 16th.
There was an improvement in 1952-53, when Wolves finished third before Cullis finally got his hands on that elusive first league title, pipping fierce rivals West Bromwich Albion to it in 1954. The success was a huge breakthrough for the club and a sweet triumph for their manager after the near misses he had experienced as a player. His side had scored an impressive 96 goals over the course of the season, mainly thanks to the lethal attacking trio of Hancocks (24 goals), Swinbourne (24 goals) and Dennis Wilshaw (26 goals).
The following years were by far the most successful in Wolves’ history, with Cullis’s side going toe-to-toe with Manchester United’s Busby Babes at the top of English football as both teams won three titles each during the 1950s.
After the success of ’54, though, it would be four years before Wolves won their next title, which came in 1958 and was swiftly followed by another the following season. This time Wolves would have the goalscoring prowess of Peter Broadbent and Jimmy Murray to thank, with the pair managing a staggering 96 goals between them over the two campaigns.
Wolves would miss out on retaining their title in 1959-60 after finishing one point behind eventual champions Burnley. However they did get their hands on some silverware, beating Blackburn Rovers in that year’s FA Cup final after the Lancashire side had been reduced to 10 men when Dave Whelan famously broke his leg. It was a bittersweet ending to a thoroughly successful decade in the West Midlands, coming so close to completing the first double of the 20th century. That honour would instead go to Tottenham Hotspur the following season.
Between 1958 and 1960, Wolves also became the first team to pass the 100-goal mark in three consecutive seasons. Although Murray and Broadbent – who Sir Alex Ferguson and George Best would both later claim were their favourite players growing up – contributed immensely to this achievement, goals flowed from throughout the side thanks to the direct playing style that Cullis encouraged.
This style was heavily influenced by the theories of Charles Reep, an analyst who is often credited with being the original proponent of the long-ball style of play. Reep theorised that the ball should be propelled into danger zones as quickly as possible, ideally with long passes. Wingers were very important to the way Cullis’s team played, with the talented Jimmy Mullen and Johnny Hancocks providing the ammunition for the Wolves frontline.
Cullis’s philosophy appeared to encapsulate the virtues of English football and Wolves’ success in playing this way against the likes of Honvéd brought back confidence to the nation following the humiliation of the Hungary defeat, which had been their first on home soil.
Such tactics did little to endear Wolves to the footballing purists though, with Cullis regularly criticised for the negative football that many perceived his side to play. What people could not dispute was that he was a formidable leader and was using his strategy to devastating effect.
For all that he had achieved over the past decade, Cullis owed a lot of his success to the foundations established by Buckley. Cullis had built on his former coach’s principles of strict discipline, giving your all in training, as well as the overloading attacking style, commonly referred to as long-ball that was already in place. Cullis’s team took this further by playing the percentages game, which was built around quick distribution from the defence out to Mullen and Hancocks, who would fire crosses into the area.
For all of Wolves’ potency going forward during this golden era, it was the team’s centre-back and captain Billy Wright who was regarded as the bedrock of much of the success. Wright was a local lad, hailing from just down the road in Ironbridge. Although there were initially doubts about his height when he joined the club in 1938, he became an indispensable part of Wolves’ success during the late 1940s and 50s, lifting the FA Cup in 1949 as well as the league championship in 1954, 1958 and 1959. On an individual level, Wright’s performances were rewarded when he finished runner-up to Alfredo Di Stéfano as European Footballer of the Year in 1957.
Today he is regarded by many as the greatest player ever to wear the old gold shirt. However, Wright was not always blessed with immense talent and it was said that “his ability to control and pass a ball were distinctly mediocre”, but what he did possess was one of the finest footballing brains of his time. His ability to read and break up play with intelligent interceptions by remaining one step ahead of his opponents was second to none and was the foundation upon which Wolves’ success was built.
The incomparable Billy Wright
After Cullis had retired from playing, it was in fact Wright who would succeed him as the club’s captain, a role he would continue in until his retirement in 1959. Wright was a colossus and it is surely no coincidence that following his retirement the success dried up for the West Midlands club, with the 1958-59 title being the last time they won England’s top division. Like all of the great leaders, Wright preferred to lead by example, summing up his approach with the quote: “Captaincy is the art of leadership, not dictatorship.”
Wright went on to make 541 appearances for the club over a 20-year spell, in which, amazingly, he was never cautioned or sent off once. In many ways, he was the model sportsman, who was revered throughout the game, and like his mentor Cullis, was fiercely loyal and dedicated to Wolves. In essence, Billy Wright represented everything the ordinary football fan expected of their heroes, whilst remaining modest throughout all of his success.
By the time the 1960s had arrived, Wolves were beginning to struggle. Cullis, a strict disciplinarian throughout his managerial career, was beginning to feel the effects of increased player power, following the abolition of the maximum wage, and would eventually lose the dressing room he had once commanded.
There was the excitement of reaching a European Cup Winner’s Cup semi-final in 1961, in which Wolves lost to Glasgow Rangers, but the silverware was drying up. Only two years after winning their last league title, Wolves finished as low as 18th in the First Division, and in 1964 Cullis’s ignominious departure was confirmed with Wolves fighting against relegation.
It had been a dramatic fall from grace for the man. Enraged at how he had been treated by the club, he vowed never to work in football again, even turning down an offer from Juventus. After a short spell as a sales rep, Cullis did return to manage Birmingham City to limited success but eventually retired from the game in 1970.
In 2001, aged 84, the most successful manager in Wolves’ history passed away, and the tributes were plentiful. Molineux’s newly rebuilt North Bank Stand was already named after the great man and the club later erected a statue in his honour. Engraved on the statue’s plinth is Cullis’s most famous quote: “You only get one life and I gave mine to Wolves”.
Looking back on his time at the club, Cullis recalled that his fondest memories were of those special nights, where his team’s silky, fluorescent old gold shirts, that he himself had specially commissioned, glowed in the night as his players darted up and down the Molineux pitch like fireflies, in competition with the best that Europe had to offer.
Today, the European Cup is a money-making global behemoth that has provided a platform for some of the most talented footballers in history and left us with some truly incredible memories. It is strange to think that we owe our thanks for this to a club who have mostly languished in the upper echelons of the Championship and lower end of the Premier League for the best part of four decades.
Stan Cullis and his Wolves side were amongst the pioneers of European club competition and those famous floodlit nights at Molineux are enshrined within the traditions of European football’s long, illustrious history. Such halcyon days may well be in the past now for Wolves supporters but a trip to Molineux shows that the club have not, and will not, forget the days when the boys in old gold were among the most famous in world football.
Birth, Death and Marriage Records for Stan Cullis and the Cullis Genealogy
Birth, Death and Marriage records are often the best method of making the links to the Stan Cullis Genealogy that will form part of your family tree. Although records vary from country to country, they are normally the most formal record of a person's relations. From the sources below you will be able to find a birth record and, from that, a birth certificate can be ordered which lists the names of the mother and father, taking you back another generation in your tree. A marriage certificate may also list the names of the respective fathers of the bride and groom which may then help you to find them earlier in life on a census record enabling you to fill out more detail in the Stan Cullis family tree.
Explore Parish Records for Stan Cullis at Find My Past.
Study for the UK registered births, marriages and deaths of Stan Cullis using the FreeBMD database.
Investigate Genealogy Bank for Stan Cullis records.
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Research the Cullis surname using fold3 Military Archives and view images of original Cullis Military records.
Controversy And Criticism
Charles Reep’s simplistic methods have been, and continue to be, critised by many football fans and analytics enthusiasts. One critic indicated that while his study assessing passing distribution showed that almost 92% of moves constituted of less than 3 passes, his dataset only contained 80% of the goals, and not 92%, from these short possessions. This contradicts Reep’s beliefs by illustrating that moves of 3 or fewer passes were in fact a less effective strategy to score goals. Additionally, it also demonstrated that Charles Reep’s argument that most goals happened after fewer than four pass movements was simply due to the fact that most movements in football (92% from his dataset) are short possessions, thus it would be understandable that most goals would be scored in that manner.
Similarly, his study did not appear to take into consideration differences in team quality. Evidence of this can be seen in that the World Cup matches he analysed, which contained double the amount of plays with seven or more passes than those he recorded from English league matches. The indication suggest that Reep missed the fact that a higher quality of the game in a higher level competition, such as the World Cup, with better players available, seemed to provide longer passing moves than in English football league matches where the average technical quality of players would be inferior. Furthermore, critics have also added that none of Reep’s analysis takes into consideration any additional factors to playing style, such as the level of exhaustion exerted on the opposition by forcing them to chase the ball around through passing.
Reep’s character and very strong preconceived notions could have prevented him from investigating alternative hypotheses that did not agree with his philosophy of direct football. He was often described as an absolutist that wanted to push his one generic winning formula. This caused most of Reep’s analysis to be ignorant of the numerous essential factors that can affect a match’s outcome. Critics have often labelled Reep’s influence on the philosophies applied to English football and coaching styles for over 30 years as “horrifying”, due the fundamental misinterpretations Reep committed throughout his work. As previously stated, one of these consisted on applying the same considerations and level of weighting to a match by an English Third Division team than to a match in the World Cup. He paid no attention to the quality of the teams involved, ignoring potentially valid assumptions that a technically poorer team may experience greater risks when attempting to play possession football. Instead, he followed his own preconceptions, such as assuming that teams should always be trying to score, when in reality teams may decide to defend their scoreline advantage by holding possession.
Aside from the criticism for his poor methods and misinterpreted finding, Reep has also been recognised for the new approaches he introduced to the analysis of the game. He was one of the first pioneers to show that football had constant and predictable patterns and that statistics give us a chance to identify what we would otherwise had missed. He initiated the thinking around the recreation of past performance through data collection, which could then inform strategies to achieve successful match outcomes. While he might not have been an outstanding data analyst, Charles Reep was a great accountant with great attention to detail and ability to collect data.
The approaches he introduced have significantly evolved since Reep’s first notational analysis in 1950. Technologies and analytical frameworks developed since the 1990s have facilitated the emergence of video analysis and data collection systems to improve athlete performance. From the foundation of Prozone in 1995 that offered high-quality video analysis to the appearance of Opta Sports or Statsbomb as global data providers capturing millions of data points per match, the field of notational and performance analysis in football has evolved in line with the technological revolution of the last few decades. The popularity of big data and the growing desire of data-driven objectivity has become important priorities within professional clubs when aiming to gain competitive advantage in a game of increasingly tight margins. Reep’s work initiated the machinery that is today an ecosystem of video analysis software, data providers, analysts, academia, data-influenced management decisions and redefined coaching processes that constitute a key piece of what modern football is today. While none of these elements can win a match on their own, they surely have been making crucial contributions in providing clubs with those smallest advantages that make the largest of differences.
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