Three players whose Molineux careers touched five decades between them are heading for New Year inductions to Wolves’ Hall of Fame.
Following the announcement last week that Major Frank Buckley and the club’s famous 1954 victory over Honved were being similarly honoured, the spotlight now falls on Malcolm Finlayson, Dave Wagstaffe and Andy Mutch.
The trio stretched from numbers one to 11 in Wanderers teams of bygone decades and totalled almost 950 first-team appearances here.
Finlayson is regarded as one of Britain’s best uncapped post-war goalkeepers, having played in an era in which the Scottish powers-that-be took a dim view of players who defected south of the border and overlooked them from the national team.
The man from a few miles north-west of Glasgow played nearly 250 games for Millwall before joining Wolves for £4,000 as successor to the legendary Bert Williams.
Filling those gloves was a daunting task but Finlayson became a star in his own right by emerging as a near-ever-present in the title-winning seasons of 1957-58 and 1958-59 and when the club added the FA Cup for good measure in 1960. His appearance tally for Wolves was more than 200.
A successful businessman in subsequent years, he has had a brief spell as a Wolves director and been a keen supporter not only of the team but also as Chairman of the club’s former players association.
Wagstaffe also found fame elsewhere over several years – in his case at Manchester City – before being recruited at Christmas of 1964.
Although this wizard of the wing was unable to stave off relegation in the wake of Stan Cullis’s departure, he did much to secure a top-flight return two years later, when he was the only ever-present in Ronnie Allen’s team of Second Division runners-up.
He went on to play 404 times with the club, his 32 goals including a beauty for the equaliser in the away leg of the UEFA Cup final against Tottenham in 1972.
His proudest honour, though, was helping Wolves win the League Cup in 1974 on his first appearance at Wembley. The fact the 2-1 win was at the expense of his former club City made it even more special, although injury meant he was below his best.
Andy Mutch arrived at Molineux in the most austere of times and by a peculiar route. He was signed from non-League Southport and so impoverished were the then Third Division club that a supporters donation was required to reel him in.
Whereas Wagstaffe was seen as a devastating provider for the likes of Derek Dougan and John Richards, Mutch’s partnership with Steve Bull is legendary, the duo playing together in both the England under-21 and B sides as they rampaged through the lower divisions.
The Liverpudlian amassed 106 goals in his 338 Wolves appearances, including one in the 1988 Sherpa Van Trophy final against Burnley, and is remembered as the perfect foil for the club’s all-time record marksman. Not bad for a player whose home debut, a 0-0 draw against Rotherham in March, 1986, was watched by a paltry 2,838.
The inductions, which are decided by a special committee made up of club officials and historians, and Wolves Former Players Association, media and supporter representatives, will be formalised at a dinner at Molineux on January 17.
* That completes the inductees for this year's Hall of Fame. Tickets are still available for the dinner. Call 0871 222 2220 (option 4) or firstname.lastname@example.org