No 31 (in a series of several): Stan Cullis (1916 – 2001)
Stan Cullis had enjoyed a successful playing career with Wolves during the 1930’s (the black country side where league runners up in 1938 a feat they repeated the following year when they were also FA Cup finalists) but it was as their manager during the 1950’s that he gained legendary status as the Wanderers won the League Championship three times and the FA Cup twice.
He was appointed manager at the tender age of 31 in 1948 and just under a year later the club had won their first silverware in forty-one years when they defeated Leicester City in the FA Cup Final. In 1954 they piped local rivals West Bromwich Albion to the League Championship and recorded back-to-back title wins in 1958 and 1959, narrowly missing out on a three-peat in 1960 finishing just a point behind Champions Burnley, although they were victorious at Wembley again lifting the FA Cup after beating Blackburn 3-0.
In these pre-European Cup days Cullis arranged some famous friendlies against Hungarian side Honved and the Russian giants Moscow Dynamo and Moscow Spartak. In 1954, Honved, whose line-up included Puskas and four others who earlier in the year had thrashed England 7-1, were beaten 3-2 at a packed Molinuex in one of the first ever floodlit games in England.
After the 1960 Cup triumph a slow decline in fortunes began and Cullis was unceremoniously sacked in 1964. Many fans never forgave the board for the callous manner in which their “Iron Manager” was despatched although the club – albeit thirty or more years on – have since named a stand in his honour and unveiled this statue to him in 2003.
Picture © Copyright DAVE ROWLEY