Devoted wife Shirley Broadbent today reflected on the loss of loved husband Peter and said: “I have lost my world”.
One of Wolves’ greatest players, Peter Broadbent died on Tuesday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 80.
He passed away peacefully at Beech House nursing home, Himley Mill, at 2am leaving behind a lifetime of happy memories.
“It’s just so sad,” said Shirley, aged 78. “It’s an awful illness.
“He was a brilliant footballer but he was such a wonderfully lovely husband who I loved so much.
“He’s been a wonderful man who I admired . . . I shall miss him so much – I have lost my world.
“But I will not let it get me down too much because he wouldn’t have wanted me to get down too much.
“I’ve also got my children and grandchildren to think about but consider myself so lucky to have them because they’re so lovely.”
A dazzling inside forward – or attacking midfielder in today’s parlance – Mr Broadbent was recognised as the most skilful player in Wolves’ greatest team, Stan Cullis’s all-conquering side of the 1950s who won three League titles and the FA Cup.
Shirley freely admits she was a welcome convert to the footballer’s lifestyle.
It was an existence that although very modest by today’s multi-millionaires, was still more lavish than the average working man in the 1950s and 60s.
“We loved a good time,” she chuckles. “Stan Cullis was strict but he relaxed a bit as he got older and we always loved go out.
“My parents lived with us so we never had to worry about babysitters.
“We were both party people; Peter was quite shy – but I was a disgrace at times!
“They say opposites get on better and I can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times we argued – I used to give in, that’s why!”
The story of the Broadbents goes way beyond being the Posh and Becks of their day as Wolverhampton’s golden couple.
For the last decade and a half, Shirley has watched her husband deteriorate before her eyes into someone who has long been unable to recognise her or talk to her.
The cruel depths of the illness which engulfed one of the greatest footballers of the day have at least been matched by the boundless love Shirley has had for her stricken husband, culminating in an extraordinary tour of duty which saw her attend to him on a daily basis right to the end.
“It wasn’t Peter in there,” said Shirley. “He was still Peter to me but it was awful to see him so poorly.
“I still loved him as much as when I was that 17-year-old who fell madly in love with him all those years ago.
“I had to carry on seeing him I think because I loved him so much.
“I used to sit and talk to him, holding his hand and telling him I loved him.
“I don’t know whether he knew what I was saying but I hoped he did.
“He didn’t recognise me and he couldn’t talk but the carers there said they think he recognised my voice.
“I shall find it very hard without him and I’ll find it very hard not seeing Peter.
“Going every day to the home, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself.
Alzheimer’s first started to take a grip on Peter more than 15 years ago, and it soon led to Shirley having to keep a closer eye on her husband.
“He never knew he had it and I didn’t want him to know,” she said.
“He just thought I was being bossy, like when we had to drive somewhere I used to make sure I jumped in the car first so I could drive – even if I didn’t know where we were going, because he wasn’t safe to.
“But when he had to stop driving 13 or 14 years ago, that was very hard for him.”
Eventually, Peter had to leave their house in Codsall and be looked after in a home.
Shirley paid tribute to the staff at Beech House who cared for her husband for the last eight years.
She said: “It’s a very cruel illness but he’s been wonderfully cared for.
“I’ve been very fortunate in that he’s been in a lovely place and I wish there were more places like it.”
Despite the ravages of the illness, the loss of Peter had left the staff devastated.
“I went there yesterday afternoon and all the girls are heartbroken because they all loved him so much,” said Shirley.
“They sat with him at the end. I sat with him until nine o’clock on the night but I was so tired because he’s been so ill that I had to come away.
“Then they rang us just after 2am and said he was slipping away but we never got there in time.
“But there was still someone there sitting with him holding his hand.”
Shirley would have wanted the staff to know the ‘real’ Peter, before he succumbed to dementia.
“I only wish they’d known him when he could talk and get about because he was unable to walk by the time he went there,” she said.
“But the laundry, the food and the care...they did everything for him and I can’t praise them enough.”
The funeral arrangements were announced today.
A service will take place on Wednesday, October 9, at 1.45pm at St. Peter’s Collegiate Church, St. Peter’s Square, Wolverhampton. Rev David Wright, who is also Wolves chaplain, will conduct the service.
Mr Broadbent became the third former Wolves player to pass away in recent weeks after the deaths of Dave Wagstaffe and Barry Stobart.