Remembering David Wagstaffe (‘Waggy’)   2 comments


As the new football season got underway last weekend in the UK, Wolverhampton Wanderers remembered one of their greatest players, David Wagstaffe, who died the week before. Growing up in Birmingham in the sixties and seventies, I began going to Molineux (the Wolves’ ground) with my father, a fan of the ‘old gold’ team in their glory days of the 1950s. Sixty years ago, Wolves were one of the first British teams to meet European opposition, first of all in friendlies. Under floodlights. In December 1954 they met Puskás’ great Honved side, coming from behind to beat them 3-2 at home, in a widely-televised match. However, when I started watching the team as a nine-year-old, with Dad, they were in the old second division. However, at the end of that season, in 1967, they gained promotion to the top fight, finishing second to Coventry City in the second division. From the first match I saw that season until I left home in 1975, ‘Waggy’ was always present in the Wolves team, usually as a traditional winger on the left, wearing the number 11 shirt.


The best Wolves team I saw was that of the 1971/2 season, after the club had finished fourth in the League the previous season and qualified for Europe for the first time in a decade, this time in the UEFA Cup. They got through to the quarter-finals, where they met Juventus, the current Italian Serei A leaders, and therefore probably the best team in Europe at that time. Wolves won 3-2 on aggregate. Next was a trip to Budapest to face Hungarian aces Ferencváros, their first visit since their friendly game against Honved in 1963.

The first leg was played on a beautiful sunny afternoon, 5th April, in the huge Népstadion (People’s Stadium) in the Hungarian capital. Wolves managed to maintain their superb away form, forcing a 2-2 draw, with goals from Munro and Richards. The great Hungarian centre-forward, Florian Álbert, had put the home side into a 2-1 lead, but It was Waggy’s birthday, and he celebrated by earning the draw for his team, swinging the ball into the box from the corner for Munro to head the ball home.

The second leg was played at Molineux on Wednesday 19th April 1972. Dave Wagstaffe had been booked in the first leg, and was replaced by Steve Daley. He put Wolves ahead in the first minute, and the ‘old golds’ won an entertaining game 2-1, the tie 4-3 on aggregate. They owed their place to Phil Parkes, the goalkeeper, who saved two of the three penalties awarded against them over the two legs.


Wagstaffe was back in the team to play Tottenham Hotspur in the all-English final. This time, Wolves were at home in the first leg. However, Spurs had had an excellent run of form to the semi-final, in which they beat A C Milan 3-1. Nevertheless, Wolves had enough of the play to have won comfortably, but they came up against an in-form Martin Chivers, the England centre-forward. He scored twice, the first with a header and the second was a brilliant shot from 25 yards.

In the second leg, Dave Wagstaffe smashed in his greatest goal, even better than the ‘screamer’ which had started Wolves 5-1 thrashing of Champions, Arsenal, earlier in the season. That had won the BBC Match of the Day’s ‘Goal of the Month’ competition. This had ‘goal of the season’ written all over it. His fiercely-hit shot skimmed in off Jennings’ far upright. That set up a magnificent second half, with Jennings playing out of his skin, keeping out a ferocious header from Frank Munro on the hour. Then Derek Dougan had the ball in the Spurs’ net after John Richards had skilfully guided Waggy’s free-kick to ‘the Doog’, but the referee ruled it out for offside. Then he took a knock and had to leave the field after 83 minutes. Wolves were the better team in both legs, but failed to win what should have been their first European trophy.

Manager Bill McGarry‘s first-choice team that season was: Phil Parkes; Bernard Shaw, Derek Parkin; Mike Bailey, Frank Munro, John McAlle; Jimmy McCalliog, Kenny Hibbitt, John Richards, Derek Dougan, Dave Wagstaffe. Subs: Rod Arnold, Alan Sunderland, Steve Daley, Hugh Curran. Peter Eastoe.

David Wagstaffe left Molineux for Blackburrn Rovers, aged 31. In his twelve years at Wolves, he scored 31 goals from his position on the wing, including the two ‘screamers’ mentioned above. He made 404 appearances.

Source: John Shipley (2003), Wolves Against the World: European Nights, 1953-1980. Stroud: Tempus.

2 responses to “Remembering David Wagstaffe (‘Waggy’)

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hi Andrew,

    I’m trying to contact you about a project I’ve just started working on, to do with the history of NUS Wales.

    It would be greatly appreciated if you could contact me on because I can’t seem to find an email address that I could contact you at (hence the comment on this blog entry).



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: