George Showell, a member of Wolves’ 1960 FA-Cup winning side, has died aged 78.
As a defender, Showell was reliable and dependable, going about his business effectively but without fuss. He was a patient reserve who eventually became a first-team regular.
He was born in Bilston and was a pupil at Etheridge School where he won representative honours with the South East Staffs schoolboys side.
Though he joined Wolves on leaving school he had to wait until he was 21 before making his debut at right back in April, 1955, in a 1–1 home draw with Preston.
He stayed in the side for the remaining seven games that season and in six of those his full-back partner was Bill Shorthouse while Bert Williams was in goal. That made it a defensive trio of Bilstonians.
Showell’s role in the seasons that followed was usually as deputy to centre-half Billy Wright if the skipper was injured or on England duty. In the 13 league matches he stood in for Wright, Wolves lost only twice.
It was as a replacement for Gerry Harris at left-back that Showell scored his first goal for the club when Wolves were closing in on the league title in 1958. Showell got injured, was moved into attack, as there were no subs in those days, and from a corner he volleyed home a spectacular goal with seven minutes to go to give his side a vital 2–1 win.
The most memorable night of his Wolves career had come earlier that season when, with Wright again on England duty, Showell came in to mark the great Alfredo di Stefano when European champions Real Madrid played a prestige friendly at Molineux.
Di Stefano was regarded by most pundits as Europe’s best player at the time yet Showell rose to the occasion and ensured the great man made little impact as Wolves won 3–2. In the return friendly in Madrid, which ended 2–2, Showell played the final 40 minutes as a midfield substitute for Eddie Clamp and again acquitted himself well.
Showell showed his versatility again the following season when, with Jimmy Murray briefly out of touch, manager Stan Cullis played him as a striker. Showell obliged with two goals in four games.
His displays as a centre-half, however, were such that Cullis felt Showell would challenge Wright for the number-5 shirt after Wolves had retained the title in 1959. This may well have been a factor in Wright then deciding to retire before the season began.
It was a momentous task to succeed Wright and Showell lost his form as Wolves made a stuttering start to the season. His place went to Bill Slater but when Eddie Stuart likewise went through a bad patch Showell was recalled at right-back and made the position his own as Wolves just missed out on retaining their league title but reached the FA Cup final.
When he helped Wolves beat Blackburn 3–0 at Wembley, Showell became the fifth Bilston-born player to collect a winner’s medal. Williams and Shorthouse were in the Wolves side in 1949, Reg Lewis scored Arsenal’s goals in a 2–0 defeat of Liverpool the following year and Stan Crowther was a member of the Villa team who beat Manchester United in 1957
Showell totted up 200 league appearances for Wolves before moving briefly to Bristol City and then Wrexham. He spent many years with the Welsh club after his playing days ended and at various times was assistant manager, trainer and physio. Not surprisingly he was an inaugural member of the club’s Hall of Fame
Showell made his home in Wrexham and it was there he died suddenly yesterday. The flags at Molineux are today flying at half mast and all at Wolves offer their deepest sympathy to his family and friends.