IF ever a life was truly celebrated at a funeral it was that of Wolves legend Dave Wagstaffe. Music and humour were key ingredients at St Peter’s Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton City Centre, last Thursday (August 22).
Left wing maestro Wagstaffe died earlier this month aged 70 and it was fitting that his coffin entered to the sound of Wolves anthem Hi Ho Silver Lining and departed to the Monkees’ Day Dream Believer.
Rev David Wright, rector of St Peter’s and also Wolves’ chaplain, told the congregation that Waggy had been a childhood pal of Monkees lead singer Davy Jones and was actually in the studio when the song was recorded.
The Manchester-born friends had met again when Wolves were in Los Angeles.
The congregation were also moved by the rendition of How Great Thou Art by Richard Probert and Chloe Williams, spontaneous applause breaking out at its conclusion. Chloe is the grand-daughter of Waggy’s partner Val Williams.
Friend of Waggy, Steve Gordos, author of several Wolves books, also received applause from the near 1,000-strong congregation after his tribute to Waggy, which revealed how the star’s football career almost got away.
Gordos told how Waggy had first attended a rugby-playing secondary school and had excelled at the sport. He planned a career as a PE teacher and Rugby League player.
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Then he switched to a football-playing school and everything changed as he discovered he was very good at football as well. So he joined Manchester City, making his debut at 17, moving to Wolves four years later, on Boxing Day, 1964.
Gordos encouraged Waggy to write his autobiography, Waggy’s Tales. And the pair holidayed together at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland, accompanied by Steve’s wife Lindsay and Val. On their first trip Steve and Lindsay arrived unannounced and pinned a notice on the adjoining cottage door which read “Ex-Wolves players not welcome.”
Waggy was at a loss to fathom the message at first. “He thought the Queen must be an Albion fan,” said Steve. When Waggy discovered who had perpetrated the prank, he and Val were just pleased to see their friends.
The tribute from Waggy’s younger son Scott was read by the Rev Wright. Scott recalled how his dad had met his mum Barbara and first told her he was a window cleaner and only later did she discover he was a footballer with Manchester City.
Scott recalled that his dad loved laughter but also enjoyed a moan. When he drove him over to Walsall only days before his death, Waggy kept moaning to Scott about the route he took.
A Bible reading by another Wolves legend, John Richards, completed an uplifting service, superbly led by the Rev Wright.
As well as fans there was a host of former players in attendance. Among them were Ted Farmer, Ron Flowers, Ernie Hunt, Peter Knowles, Terry Wharton, Fred Davies, Gerry Taylor, Jim Barron and Graham Hawkins, who played alongside Waggy in his early days at Molineux.
From the fine 1970s team were Richards, Phil Parkes, Geoff Palmer, Derek Parkin, John McAlle, Kenny Hibbitt, Barry Powell, Willie Carr and Steve Daley.
From those who played later or not as regularly came Mel Eves, Gerry O’Hara, Dean Edwards and Phil Nicholls.
Also there were Jutta, widow of Derek Dougan, Maureen, wife of Barry Stobart, and representatives of Waggy’s former clubs, Manchester City, Blackburn and Blackpool.
Among Wolves’ representation were vice presidents Rachael Heyhoe Flint and Robert Plant, chief executive Jez Moxey director John Gough, head of communications Matt Grayson and programme editor John Hendley.