1931 With the Wanderers in Paris

The Continentals Win Again / “80 Years on What’s New”

Souvenir Poster 1931

Wolverhampton Wanderers  finished the season 1930-31 with what was considered to be now a well equipped squad, finishing just seven points short of promotion from the Second Division.

In the season break Wolves  were invited to take part in an friendly International Tournament in association with the Colonial Exhibition from 6th to 14th of June in Paris France.

Wolves had such a short notice arranging the tour that players had to be wired on the day before they travelled.

Mr Peter Farmer, trainer of the Racing Club de France the foremost French, football club gives his impartial comment on the Wolves matches.

His remarks are interesting because of the source from which they come and because they clearly show that France does not regard the Wolves defeats as a further depreciation of British football stock abroad. Writing in the Athletic News, Mr farmer gives the story of how quickly the match was fixed up with Santander Those responsible for running the tournament at Vincennes officially confirmed the aggreement on June 3rd and Wolves arrived on the evening of the 5th, and played on the 7th.

“All the French papers” says Mr Farmer, “speak highly of the display of the Englishmen, their positional play and tactics and the prescision of their passes, before closing I would like to say that they have retrieved the prestige of the game in our country (France).”

My word of advice to all players for the future is not to let themselves go out of training during the summer in case a sudden call comes, as in the case of Wolverhampton.

Major Buckley and the Wolves entourage who gathered at short notice photographed at Their H.Q The Molineux Hotel.

These are a few notes from our roving reporter who travelled with the squad on that eventful trip.

The Channel crossing had been very rough. There had been a heavy swell as we boarded the S.S. Biarritz for Boulogne.

Lowton the big Wolves right-back was the first to be victim of sea sickness,  and George Lax was another member of the party to be affected.

On arrival we boarded the express and were all very tired when we arrived in  Paris.  Two parties of gesticulating porters commandeered us and with the help of Major Buckley, who showed great generalship throughout the trip, we reached the hotel Layfayette about 10 p.m.

The Tournament  begins at four o’clock this afternoon in the municipal cycling enclosure with a match between Slavia of Prague, and the Club Francios, the Wolves have been invited to see this game.

There will be two matches tomorrow between the Racing Club De France, a Paris Team, and Urania F.C. of Geneva. the second match a five oÕclock will be between Wolves and Santander.

There was little to do now only wonder what it will be like when wolves step on to the field  tomorrow  to play the Spanish cracks, Santander,

The Players are  merry and bright this  evening intent on showing the French people how well a British football team can play . Nearly every Frenchman we meet expresses the hope that the Wolves will win the tournament.

The Wolves Team will be:-
Toothill, Lowton, Shaw; Rhodes, Hollingsworth, Richards, Phillips, Hartill, Martin, Bottrill, and Barraclough.

Wolves Team-1931
Wolverhampron Wanderers Team 1931

Who apart from Shaw and Martin will provide the main strength for 31-32.

Souvenir Centerfold 31 – 32

The Outcome

Unfortunately our early optimism soon faded when we were denied a victory on both occasions. Hardly a shot had been made before it soon became evident Continental football has progressed to such an amazing extent that English teams chances of winning their games abroad will soon be practically nil.

What our teams were up against on the continent

Anyone who did not see the Wolves games against Santanader and First Vienna cannot imagine the quality of the opposition.
The Continental teams carried out their movements at great speed hitting the ball first time some of their combined movements were better than anything IÕve seen in England. It is difficult to believe this but it is so.

The Wolves make no excuses so far as the standard of football is concerned but the conditions were absolutely against them, when they met Santander in Vincennes heavy rain fell and so we thought the conditions would favour us, but it made no difference.

Besides the food and the climate, there are some other remarkable things English teams have to contend with. For instance.

The referee before the game on Sunday lectured the Wolves and told them, they must not charge, “The Vienna Players are not used to it,” he pointed out.

Vienna by the way had an inside right who puts Alec James in the shade. He plays wonderful  football, dribbling, and swerving and shooting in uncanny style.

During the week I had a word with Bob Firth, the trainer of the Santander side who beat the Wolves in the first match. Firth by the way is a former Birmingham player. He said; “the Spanish players were always in the pink of condition. They are born to the game,” he added. “Sunbathing takes up a big amount of their time, they are naturally as speedy as gazelles, and when I tell them to do a thing they are so persevering, that it takes them next to no time to pick it up.”

In conclusion

It is not overstepping the mark when I say that British sides are learning a great deal from these tours.

We thought we knew it all, but have discovered we don’t. In fact, in some respects the foreigners are now teaching us  new  tricks. Many times in the progress of the games I have seen,  an opposing forward before executing a totally unexpected move, more or less say , “Do you know this one?” And more often than not we do not.

The Tour brought its rewards.

Souvenir from 1931-1932

The tour was the inspiration “Wolves” were looking for They started the 31-32 season like an house on fire beating Spurs 4.0 nil at home.

Billy Hartill local hero was in devastating form scoring 4 hat-tricks during that unforgettable season, and finally a 2-0 home win over Port Vale in their 40th match clinched promotion and with it came the Championship.

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  1. Not directly connected with the Wolves, but this may amuse you: my great-aunt, Ethel Spicer (sister of Frank Spicer, of whom I often write) married an Irishman, Joe Wickham, who was working in Wolverhampton.

    Joe was a keen footballer and athlete, and after he and Ethel returned to Dublin, ‘Gentleman Joe’ became the Secretary of the Irish Football Association.

    During the Cold War, Ireland were asked to travel behind the Iron Curtain to play against the national side of one of the Iron Curtain countries.

    There was some outcry against this, but Joe took his team nonetheless, declaring that politics builds barriers but sport breaks barriers down.

    On the Sunday following the team’s return, Joe was preached against from the pulpit of his local Catholic Church.

    It’s not entirely clear whether this was because he had dared to take them behind the Iron Curtain, or whether it was because Ireland had lost…

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