Alan Buckley’s 3 Striped Adidas Shirt has sent me another email. It doesn’t concern the Euro 2012 Final or any of that tiki-taka, false 9 business. It is a strictly local affair. He wants to tell the world about which footballers have enjoyed the most scenic bus ride in the West Midlands; the route of the 529 bus, from Walsall (via Wilenhall) to Wolverhampton. He wants to tell us just who has boarded the bus at stand G at the bus station (or opposite Walsall College when you used to be able to catch it from there), with their boots in their bag and then rocked up at Wolverhampton approximately 38 minutes later asking for directions to the Molineux, as they fancy a game.
With Jamie Tank being snapped up by Wolves some younger fans have asked me have any other Saddlers made the short journey to the Molineux. I think you last have to go back to 1989 when Graham Turner snapped up midfielder Paul Jones for £15,000. He had figured in around 180 games for Saddlers including subs appearances and netted 19 goals but was struggling to get back in the side following a horrific injury sustained against Notts County, so Walsall Manager John Barnwell allowed him to move on. He made 14 appearances for Wolves before dropping out of the league and serving the likes of Kettering and Stafford Rangers.
A decade before whilst in the Molineux hot seat, John Barnwell signed Mick Kearns as cover for Paul Bradshaw for £10,000. It was something of a surprise move as Mick had only missed five games in his six years at Fellows Park after making 293 appearances in our colours. His chances were limited but he soon became a Wolves hero as he saved a penalty against West Brom of all clubs. Three years later he returned home to Fellows Park and became a hero in our Milk Cup run.
In 1968 striker Derek Clarke had only turned out six times for Walsall before Ronnie Allen signed him up for £25,000 but despite a couple of goals in his handful of games he moved to Oxford United and had a decent career there. Then you can go back to the 1940’s when the likes of Bert Williams, Johnny Hancocks and Dennis Wilshaw all started off at Fellows Park before making the trip to the Molineux when Walsall were tagged as a feeder club for our illustrious neighbours.