Accurately perceiving a response to a blog can be a very inexact science. Sometimes you write something that’s on a whim and it goes down well, sometimes the reverse. You live and learn I guess, and what I’ve often found is pieces on players of the past have generally been well received. Writing about my own childhood heroes like Tony Norman, Stan McEwan or Peter Skipper was somewhat of a labour of love and I was grateful for the kind words that followed.
As a fair amount of you will know I’m a glutton for a challenge though and when I wrote about the legendary Chris Chilton this season, I’d never actually seen him play in the flesh, however thanks to the contributions of others I wrote a piece that hopefully did justice to the great man and helped the Supporters Trust sell a few of the “Team Chillo” t-shirts that the club had generously donated. This got us a useful bit of money for Chris’s Wife’s dementia charity of choice and also in its own small way reminded the current fanbase of the importance of such a legend.
Since then I’ve been trying to do the same with Chillo’s strike partner and great mate Ken Wagstaff. Also, with an outcome in mind, again the Trust have managed to get hold of a retro sixties’ shirt signed by the great man himself and they intend to auction it off and donate the money Dementia Friendly East Riding. I’ll share details of which at the end of my piece.
It’s hard to incapsulate the importance of someone like Ken Wagstaff to the city and the club and I’ve gone cap in hand to some fans who did see him play to get some more perspective. However my two-penneth is this…
Occasionally City fans get into a bit of a retro sing-song, often in cups or friendlies where the outcome isn’t quite so vital. They’ll sing the “Don’t sell McShane” song, and the Geovanni one, even digging a bit further back into songs about Theo Whitmore and several others. I think it’s quite remarkable that despite him not having kicked a ball for us in 46 years, you’ll inevitably hear a shout of “Waggy waggy waggy!” returned with crescendo of “Oi! Oi! Oi!” Soak that in. Who else is sang about 46 years after his last game? I’d say only some of the most elite players and that might be a tiny measure of the man and what he meant to the fanbase at our club.
What I do know thanks to the basic research and the wonders of some you tube clips is that Waggy was the ultimate foil for the taller and more physical Chillo. 173 goals in 378 appearances for the club was some level of prolific with over 260 goals in his career. He was the archetypal number nine, in that he was a deadly finisher with anticipation and timing that is rare in any era.
Smudger on Twitter sent me a few messages paying tribute to him and he also saw the importance of the partnership between the two.
“His partnership with Chilton I would compare to Keegan and Toshack, and in the modern era Son and Kane”
Smudger waxed lyrical about the two goals Ken put past the England keeper Peter Bonetti in the 6th round of the FA cup at Stamford Bridge.
My old man loves him like no other and he also remembers the Chelsea game with joy.
“I will never forget the FA Cup Quarter Final at a very boggy Stanford Bridge when he scored the equaliser to take us back to Boothferry Park, it was an incredibly tight squeeze in the East Stand that day and the chant of “Waggy waggy waggy!” rang in your ears like a war chant."
I think like many of the greats it was the fact that fans saw Ken as one of us that made him stand out even more. Since playing he’s ran pubs locally, written about the team in the Hull Daily Mail and got his teeth into charity events to help those less fortunate like running the Sports Relief Mile and Charity Golf Events. My Dad’s generation don’t forget that a brilliant player was also an outstanding person and that goes a long way.
Chris Stern of the HCST sent me this message regarding Ken.
“Ken Wagstaff, the footballing magician, was probably the best player ever for Hull City, and possibly the best ever striker not to play for England. Whilst regularly scoring brilliant goals he could also make the opposition look silly as he waltzed around them with ease. Gordon Banks may have been one of the best ever but Waggy still put two goals past him in 1971. No diving for penalties, no histrionics, in fact I can’t ever remember him being booked. It was a privilege to watch him.”
I’m pretty sure that if you ever found one truly great striker in a team you’ll do well. Thus, people rightly still recall the likes of Keith Edwards, Abel Hernandez or Billy Whitehurst in their peak with great affection. But in Waggy and Chillo, we had two, and that’s perhaps what made them even more undeniable and iconic in our history. The left hand simply knew what the right hand was doing and so many of their goals are assisted by the other. It was uncanny how they worked together so well.
They were some double act, but as the old man adds.
“Ken Wagstaff is regarded by many fans as the best player ever in two different clubs for both Hull City and Mansfield Town, that says it all!”
Even though Ken was only there four seasons he scored 93 goals with many of those when he was only a teenager, that’s some going.
As I grew up hearing nothing but Waggy stories it seems apt I should give my Dad almost the last word again (those who know him will confirm he always gets the last word regardless!)
“I have such fantastic memories of our fabulous team in the sixties, Butler, Chillo, Houghton and Waggy. Ken Wagstaff was our greatest finisher ever”
It’s also a mark of the man that he gave up his time to sign a shirt and wants that money to go in tribute to his old mate and strike partner. Waggy might not have been born in Hull, but he’s made it his home so he’s truly one of us and that’s why his legend endures to this very day and beyond.
Thank you Ken.
The signed Waggy shirt is being auctioned off between now and Friday 24th June. Simply send your bid to Contact@hullcityst.com, I'll try to keep you all posted on the Twitter as to what the bid goes to. All proceeds go to Dementia Friendly East Riding. UTT