John McAlle recalls pitching up in Wolverhampton like it was yesterday, but little did he know the impact he’d make at Molineux during the following 16 years.
The Liverpudlian defender would make more than 500 appearances in black and gold, play in two major cup finals and finally – 34 years after his departure – be inducted on the Hall of Fame.
It’s a collection of achievements which have lived with McAlle since and it’s with little encouragement he reminisces on his first visit to Wolverhampton.
“I’d never been down that way before,” he explained. “I jumped on the train at Liverpool Lime Street and could spot the Molineux floodlights from the railway station in Wolverhampton.
“It was so vibrant at the time, all the industries in Wolverhampton had lots of jobs. The club put me in digs on Dunstall Road, opposite a police station, and I always wondered if it was because of my roots,” he joked.
Two years as an apprentice followed for McAlle, who remained on Ronnie Allen’s radar, and once professional terms were signed, he was soon flung into the first-team to sink or swim.
“I had to bide my time and learn my trade as we had some very good defenders, with the likes of Dave Woodfield and John Holsgrove.
“Ronnie Allen gave me my chance in midfield at Chelsea. I was in and out at that point, but when Bill McGarry took over I was regular in the side ever since.”
During that time the defender would represent Wolves in the UEFA Cup final and won the League Cup, which are naturally the stand out memories.
“It was disappointing to play Tottenham in the final, we really enjoyed playing in Europe and it was a bit of a let down playing an English team. We wanted Juventus or Feyenoord who we’d already beaten.
“That was a great experience playing in Europe. We went to East Germany and all the shops were empty, the butchers would have a couple of bits of meat and that’s it. It was a tough time for them.”
The Tottenham final was one of 508 appearances McAlle chalked up for Wolves, making him the fifth highest-serving player in the club’s history.
“Usually players are selected for the Hall of Fame because they’ve scored goals so it was nice to be remembered for my service.
“When you’re playing you don’t think about the number of games, you just play. You didn’t want to be left out, it’s not like today when players are rested, you wanted to stay in the team.”
McAlle is the half-time guest when Wolves take on Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and the 67-year-old is relishing being back at Molineux.
“I’m going on the pitch tomorrow at half-time and it will give me an opportunity to thank the fans. That true, loyal support has always been there. It’s nice for them that the team is doing well,” he added.
Those who have purchased hospitality can meet John before the Bolton game, while a Black Friday discount is available in the WV1 Quadrant.
10% off place is available, with supporters receiving a complimentary drink, programmes, car parking and a prime located seat on a private balcony.