Geoff Palmer will be inducted into Wolves Hall of Fame at this year’s FPA Annual Dinner on April 28th. As part of a series of extended feature articles looking at the 2023 inductees, here are the words of Nick Elwell, a member of the Hall of Fame committee.


“He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own….. Geoff Palmer, he’s one of our own.”

The popular modern day terrace chant is a perfect fit for local lad made good Geoff Palmer.

All Palmer wanted to do from a young age was play football. And there was only one club he wanted to play for. Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He still can’t believe how lucky he was to live his dream – 496 times to be precise during two spells in gold and black – and now he is looking forward to another special night at Molineux when he will be officially inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.

To have been granted a place among the legends of the 50s such as Billy Wright, Ron Flowers and Peter Broadbent, and alongside his close friends John Richards and Kenny Hibbitt, is a source of immense pride.

“I’m a very proud man,” said Palmer. “There aren’t many people that get inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“To be part of the history of the club, it’s something I didn’t expect. To go from a lad that supported the club and then played for the club, to go to this is the icing on the cake.”

Born in Cannock, Palmer was always going to follow Wolves, it was in the family blood. He is still a regular visitor to Molineux these days and a 45-minute chat leaves no doubt that his passion for the club shines as bright as ever.

“My dad used to take me in the 60s, that’s when I started to watch them,” he said.

“As a kid all I wanted to do was play football. And watching the Wolves, I wanted to play for them.

“To get the chance to sign for the team that you have always supported, that was special.”

It was next to the famous old ground, at the former sports and social club on Waterloo Road, where a young Palmer first caught the attention of legendary Wolves scout Joe Gardiner.

“My school had entered a six-a-side competition that was played at the gym in the social club next to Molineux,” he recalls.

“Joe Gardiner had a word with my school teacher to ask if he could speak to my parents about me going training once a week.

“That’s how it started, and I used to go on a Wednesday night when I was about 13. And then as I got a couple of years older we started going on a Tuesday and Thursday.”

Palmer continued to progress over the next few years and worked his way into a talented youth team that were soon making their mark.

“At the time the youth team had done well in the FA Youth Cup and it helped that I was involved with them,” he said.

“We beat West Ham in the quarter-final and I was involved when we lost to Arsenal in the semi-final.”

Palmer’s development had caught the eye of first team boss Bill McGarry, who decided to send the young full-back off to Africa.

“Some of the reserves and first team were going on a pre-season trip to Zambia and I was selected to go on that with Steve Daley, Alan Sunderland and John Richards,” adds Palmer, who also played in the various teams Wolves fielded in the West Midlands League.

“Before we went, Mr McGarry said that when I came back that I would be signing a 12-month apprentice contract.

“It all went from there. After my 12 months I signed professional forms at 18. It was a two-year contract and I was paid £25 a week. When I was an apprentice, I was in digs and I got £6 a week and my landlady got £6 a week.

“I thought I had made it when I signed one for 25 quid a week!”

Palmer then enjoyed a meteoric rise as his committed displays on the right side of defence propelled him into the first team and a day to remember at Wembley in 1974 when Wolves beat Manchester City to lift the League Cup.

“In the second year as a professional I broke into the first team. My league debut was at St Andrew’s in September 73, something like that,” he recalls.

“And then we got to Wembley in the League Cup final in March the following year. I’d also been selected to play for England under-23s as well so everything was just snowballing.”

Palmer was just 19 when goals from Hibbitt and Richards sunk City but the transition from reserve team to first team was made easy thanks to the wealth of experience and quality in Wolves’ ranks.

“We had a settled team at the time and it helped playing with Phil Parkes, Frank Munro, John McAlle, Derek Parkin, Doog, Mike Bailey, Kenny and John, we had got an experienced side,” he says.

“The day was just fantastic, going out on to the pitch in front of all those fans.

“One things that stands out is when we were waiting in the tunnel to go out. I looked around and there was Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee, Franny Lee, Rodney Marsh, Denis Law…. it was just another Saturday afternoon game for them.

“They were just knocking the ball about and talking, they were used to it. I was 19 and there were a few butterflies knocking around. But as soon as you get out there they just disappear and you get on with the match.

“I enjoyed the game but sometimes it passes you by, it goes by a lot quicker than you think.

“It was good night, we stayed down in London. I didn’t have too many to drink, I was absolutely knackered. That pitch really used to take it out of you.”

Palmer established himself as a regular in the side and as a favourite with the fans due to his no-nonsense style and his love of a tackle. Not many wingers relished an afternoon on the left flank facing up to Palmer.

“I have always been like it. I think it was installed in me that it was either them or myself,” said Palmer.

“If anyone tried to take the mickey out of you, then it was up to me to do a few things to sort it out.

“Mr McGarry always used to say ‘look at who you are playing against, he wants to beat you, score goals and make goals for their team, if he is doing that, then you are not doing your job’.

“I played against some good players. Tommy Hutchinson was a good player, Leighton James and John Robertson. Robertson was a brilliant player. He didn’t beat you with speed, he beat you with how good he was with the ball. His quality into the box was excellent.”

Palmer and Robertson locked horns on another famous day out at Wembley when Wolves beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the 1980 final to lift the League Cup for a second time.

“I remember more of the game the second time at Wembley,” he adds. “You knew what to expect while the first time was all new to me.”

Wolves had shown some promise during that period with FA Cup semi-final appearances against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur either side of their Wembley triumph.

But, much to Palmer’s regret, they never kicked on.

“We had the two FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal and Tottenham. We didn’t turn up at Villa Park against Arsenal, we let ourselves down,” he admits.

The one against Spurs, which went to a replay at Highbury after a 2-2 draw at Hillsborough, still stings.

Palmer continues: “I remember John Barnwell saying ‘just look at their team’ when we went to extra-time. They were so deflated because we had scored right at the end.

“That was our biggest chance but it never happened.

“We went down to Highbury for the replay, got stuck in traffic and didn’t get there till about 20 minutes before kick-off. It was just straight in, kit on and get out there.

“I’m not using it as an excuse because we go beat fair and square, but that was the start of things going wrong.

“It was a big disappointment because in those days everyone wanted to play in the Cup final, with all the build up that went on around the game.

“It wasn’t to be but I did get to Wembley twice, and won twice, so I can’t complain.

“The club didn’t kick on then. Coming 29-30, we were all experienced players but there was nothing coming through. And some of the players bought to replace players, didn’t replace them.”

Little did Palmer and his team-mates realise at the time, but the dark days where just around the corner.

Relegation in 1981/82 followed but yet again they bounced straight back the following season thanks to a second-placed finish.

Palmer scored in an opening day draw with Liverpool at the start of the 1983/84 season, but the wheels then came off under the disastrous reign of the Bhatti brothers.

Wolves went down again and with Palmer falling out of favour with boss Tommy Docherty, he was off on loan to Burnley.

“Tommy Docherty was manager and made it quite plain that I wasn’t going to play,” said Palmer.

“He told me Burnley were interested in a loan, and if I were you I’d get in your car and go and talk to them.

“It was a month initially and I signed full-time in the end and had about 10 months there.

“We didn’t do so well. John Benson got the sack and Martin Buchan came in and then decided it wasn’t the job for him. Tommy Cavangan took over.

“It wasn’t going to happen up there and Sammy Chapman got in touch and I jumped at the chance of coming back to Wolves.

“That was when the club was really on its knees.

“The stand was a bit of a milestone round the club’s neck and they got into a bit of money trouble.

“It was sad to see the club like that. Two parts of the ground shut. The fans must have been martyrs, it was a total mess.”

The slide into the fourth division saw Palmer become one of just two players in Wolves history – alongside Paul Dougherty – to play for them in all four divisions.

He stayed around for a while when Graham Turner took charge but had already started planning for his future and eyeing a transfer to the police force.

“I had got to know a sergeant at the Wolves home games and I played a few times for Wolverhampton Police at golf,” said Palmer.

“They kept asking what I was thinking of doing when I finished football and said ‘why don’t you come and have a look at policing?’

“I looked in to it, and at the end of the day put my papers in to join. I was 32 when I joined in 1986.

“I used to work Walsall, Darlaston, Willenhall and Bloxwich. It was a good experience and I enjoyed it.

“I played football for British Police, played in Germany and for the West Midlands side that got to British Police Cup final.

“I played at Celtic’s ground and Rangers’ ground as well, so that was two grounds I hadn’t played at before.

“I could tell loads of stories and I used to get recognised a few times.

“Working Darlaston, it was a Sunday afternoon and me and a colleague were sent out to a domestic.

“We walked in the living room and the Sunday dinner was dribbling down the wall, there was gravy and potatoes running everywhere.

“This guy was a man mountain and I thought it’s going to need more than two of us if he kicks off!

“He kept looking at me and I thought ‘he’s clocked who I am’.

And then he said “It’s Geoff ay it? It’s Geoff Palmer ay it? What you doing here?

“And I said, well I’m in uniform and I haven’t come to a fancy dress!

“The fact he recognised me helped diffuse the situation and he came to the nick and told us what had gone on and sorted everything out.”

After hanging up his truncheon, Palmer now enjoys plenty of time hitting the fairways at Oxley Golf Club and watching Wolves.

A player with an equivalent CV to Palmer’s would be well set in the days of Premier League wealth, but there is no bitterness on his part.

You simply can’t put a price and some of the friendships he forged and the memories he made.

“I go to the games now and these lads are worth their money,” he said. “They entertain you these Portuguese and Spanish guys. They really are exceptional players.

“But I always think to myself, I wonder how Moutinho and Neves would have got on playing on the old Baseball Ground?

“No way they would be able to pass the ball like they do. There was no grass!

“I watch the Big Match Revisited on the TV and some of the grounds are bloody horrendous. It was just mud.

“You never come off with mud on your shirts these days. And they give their shirts away now, we had to play in that shirt all season!

“The pitches allow them to play. There are no bad bounces these days. But they are international players and it’s joy to watch them.

“The fans get a bit frustrated at times with the passing around at the back. They would rather them get the ball forward quicker than they do, but that’s the style they play. That’s how football has gone.

“All these goal-kicks now, we would never have thought of doing anything like that.

SELECT MAGAZINE EXPRESS & STAR ( JOHN SAMBROOKS 05/09/2019 Pictured L-R: former Wolves stars Geoff Palmer and Phil Parkes attend the Billy Wright Story at Molineux.

“With all due respect to Lofty (Phil Parkes), he had only got one foot. If you put it on his right foot he would fall over!

“Frank Munro could have done it, but Scouse (John McAlle) is another one. If you put it on his right foot you didn’t know where it was going to go!

“But we played to their strengths and we weren’t only team-mates, we were friends as well and I have some great memories.

“From a little lad who wanted to play football, to break into the Wolves team was just fantastic.

“I was lucky that I got selected and played against some great players, represented my country and played at Wembley. What can be better?

“It’s not bad for a lad from Cannock.”