Alan Steen, the youngest ever League goalscorer for Wolves, has died. He had celebrated his 90th birthday this summer.
He made national headlines when he and Jimmy Mullen, both aged 16, were chosen on the wings to face Manchester United at Molineux in March 1939.
Mullen had already played in the top flight but it was Steen’s debut and he marked the occasion by scoring the final goal in Wolves’ 3–0 win.
Legendary manager Major Frank Buckley believed in giving young players their chance and the average age of the team that day was just under 21.
As well as Steen, Buckley blooded 18-year-old half-back Ray Goddard against United, while a third debutant was inside-forward Gerry McAloon, signed from Brentford just a few days earlier.
Steen’s big moment came after Dicky Dorsett and Tom Galley had put Wolves two up. With ten minutes to go, Mullen raced after Dorsett’s pass and squared the ball across goal for Steen to turn home.
Talking earlier this year about his historic debut, Steen said Wolves did not make a big deal of it. Cyril Spiers, a former goalkeeper and by then part of Buckley’s backroom staff, gave him the news he was playing. He could not recall getting a pre-match word from Buckley. It was just a case of “you’re playing, get on with it.”
Buckley was not uncaring, though. Steen said: “He and his wife invited me and Jimmy Mullen to Sunday tea a few times. I had a lot of respect for the Major. I made sure I behaved myself and did as I was told.”
To accommodate Steen on the right, Mullen was switched to the left and there was great pride in their digs at Burland Avenue, Tettenhall. Both lads lived there with the Colley family along with another youngster – Billy Wright.
On the outbreak of war, Steen played 19 games for Wolves in the Midland Regional League but was eventually called up to the RAF. In October, 1943, he was reported missing in action.
Steen was safe, however. His plane had been shot down. He was captured and sent to Stalag IV-B at Muhlberg, the largest prisoner of war camp on German soil. That was where he spent the rest of the war in conditions that were basic.
Not that it was tough all the time. Said Steen: “We did manage to organise football matches and I think we even played against the German soldiers.”
The imprisonment took its toll and he took time to recover physically and mentally. A promising football career was never really fulfilled though he played for Luton, Aldershot, Rochdale and Carlisle after the war.
* Everyone at Wolves would like to send their sincere condolences to Alan's family and friends.
ALAN IS PICTURED WITH JIMMY MULLEN, LEFT, AND TRAINER JACK DAVIES.