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A-Z of football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 09, 2014

John Richards

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JOHN RICHARDS was born in Warrington in November 1951 and joined Wolverhampton Wanderers as an apprentice in July 1967, turning professional two years later. He had a loan spell with Derby County from November 1982-January 1983 before transferring to Club Sport Marìtimo in Madiera in August 1983, retiring in April 1984.

He then returned to the UK and worked for Wolverhampton Leisure Services Department before becoming a Director of his beloved Wolves in August 1995, upgrading to Managing-Director in October 1997, and holding office until May 2000.

He currently works as operations director of Pitchcare, a Wolverhampton-based online service for groundsmen.

Virtually a one-club man, he spent 16 years at Molineux, during which time he made 486 appearances and netted 194 goals (only Steve Bull has scored more).

He helped Wolves reach the 1972 UEFA Cup final, scored the winner in the 1974 League Cup final victory over Manchester City, added a second League Cup winner's prize to his collection in 1980 and was a key member of Wolves' Second Division Championship winning team in 1977, forming a terrific strike-force initially with Derek Dougan and later with Andy Gray.

Capped as a schoolboy, John also played for England in one senior, three B, two U21 and six U23 internationals and represented the Football League. His only senior appearance came alongside two-goal Martin Chivers, in a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland at Goodison Park in May 1973.

"I didn't perform all that well" said John in what was a disappointing display by Sir Alf Ramsey's men. Therefore, with the acknowledged talent England possessed at the time in the form of Kevin Keegan, Chivers and Allan Clarke, it meant that John became a 'one-cap wonder'.

* John scored one of the fastest-ever goals by a Wolves player – after just 12 seconds at the start of the League game at Burnley in November 1975.

MATT RICHARDS scored 12 goals in 86 League games for Walsall in two seasons, 2009-11. A solid defender, born in Harlow, Essex in December 1984, he had previously been with Ipswich Town (for whom he made over 160 appearances), Brighton & Hove Albion, Wycombe Wanderers and Notts County, and is now with Shrewsbury Town.

Matt has one England U21 cap to his credit and is now closing in on 400 career League appearances.

TOM RICHARDS played right-half for Walsall between 1908 and 1916, making 274 first-team appearances and scoring six goals.

Born locally circa 1885, he played for Walsall Unity before joining the Saddlers but unfortunately he was injured, or rather wounded, whilst on active service during WW1 and never played football again. It is thought that Tom died in 1950 here in the Black Country.

TONY RICHARDS netted 198 goals in 358 League and Cup appearances for Walsall between 1954 and 1963.

Born in Smethwick in March 1934, Tony was surprisingly (to himself) released by Birmingham City as a teenager before spending two years doing his National Service in the Royal Artillery.

After demobilization he had trials with Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves but did not impress, and it was manager Major Frank Buckley who signed him for Walsall after giving him a trial at Fellows Park. After making a sound debut against Bristol City, Tony never looked back.

He helped the Saddlers win back-to-back promotions from the Fourth to the Second Division in 1960 and 1961, forming an excellent strike-force partnership with Roy Faulkner, with left-winger Colin Taylor also finding the net – and providing the crosses – on a regular basis.

On leaving Walsall Tony joined Port Vale for whom he struck 30 goals in 63 games before having decent spells with Nuneaton Borough and Dudley Town.

Later employed in Birmingham, Tony died in March 2010, at the age of 76, having earlier been appointed an Honorary Life President of Walsall, to mark his contribution to the club and his cult status amongst the club's fans.

FRED RICHARDSON was an aggressive, stocky centre-forward who scored 18 goals in 31 appearances for Albion.

Born in Middlestone Moor, County Durham in August 1925, he represented Durham Boys, played for Spennymoor United Juniors, Newcastle United (1942), Spennymoor United (1943) and Bishop Auckland (1945, playing in the 1946 FA Amateur Cup final) before joining Chelsea as a professional in September 1946).

After spells with Hartlepool United (from October 1947) and Barnsley (from October 1948) he was signed by Albion for a fee of £7,125 in June 1950.

He moved to Chester for £3,000 in February 1952, returned to Hartlepool United on a free transfer in November 1952 and retired in June 1956 after a short spell with South Shields.

Albion then recruited him as their North-Eastern scout (1956–58) before he switched to coaching, first in Hartlepool, then with Whickham, where he also acted as team manager (1980–82).

In his Football League career, Fred Richardson totted up a total of 244 appearances and scored 66 goals and as a manager, guided Whickham to victory in the 1981 FA Vase Final at Wembley.

One of Albion's oldest former players, Fred, now aged 88 is now living in the North-East of England.

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