Malcolm Finlayson: Legend Alfredo Di Stefano lost his cool with me

Malcolm Finlayson today paid tribute to Alfredo di Stefano and recalled the time he made him lose his trademark cool.

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Wolves keeper Malcolm Finlayson, left, making a save against Di Stefano at Molineux in 1957

The Real Madrid legend died yesterday after suffering a heart attack on Saturday aged 88.

He was part of the all-conquering Madrid team of the 1950s who won five straight European Cups – and came to Molineux in 1957.

Wolves shocked Los Blancos by winning 3-2 in a friendly and Finlayson remembers they never feared di Stefano and Co.

He said: “They were great games against great sides and we didn’t fear anyone. We didn’t expect to lose.

“They were the champions of Europe and beating everyone when we beat them. That wasn’t supposed to happen so they took us back to Madrid to teach us how to play the game and we still drew 2-2.

“Stan Cullis always said Di Stefano had the best balance of a centre forward he had ever seen, the close control and ability.” Ramon Marsal scored twice at Molineux but goals from Peter Broadbent, Jimmy Murray and Dennis Wilshaw won it for Wolves.

Cullis’ side were invited to the Bernabeu for a re-match in the December and drew 2-2 with Finlayson, who won two First Division titles and the 1960 FA Cup with Wolves, enjoying a duel with di Stefano.

And the 84-year-old recalled the moment he managed to rattle the usually mild-mannered striker at the Bernabeu. “In Madrid we’d be playing them offside and all our defenders moved up like guardsmen,” said the keeper, who made 203 appearances for Wolves. “After a little while di Stefano realised it.

“One time he took the ball down and it was just him and me because the defenders had moved up. As he came to me I dived at his feet and got the ball but somehow my hand got in the way of his ankle and he toppled over.

“He was a gentlemanly player, like Sir Stanley Matthews or Sir Tom Finney, but he aimed a little kick at me. It was more a gesture of frustration really but instead of giving a penalty against me the referee gave a free kick against di Stefano.

“He was a great player and they had a good team but so did Wolves.”

Comments for: "Malcolm Finlayson: Legend Alfredo Di Stefano lost his cool with me"

charlie17

Fantastic period for Wolves, tickets for the games were like gold dust, but the gates opened about 20 minutes before the end and I was able to walk in for that 20 minutes plus the little bit of extra time. Very different now.

Stoney Lane

Great days indeed for the Wolves, Charlie 17, which opened up Europe for English clubs. As a Baggie, I wish we could get back some of the flavour today. Wolves were No 1 in the country in the 1950's, no doubt about that. Three league championships, top and tailed by FA Cup wins in 1949 and 1960. A great manager, too, in Stan Cullis. The Albion played some lovely football but only had one FA Cup to show for it and some top four positions. There were some fantastic local derbys and we all stood together: Black Country towns with intense rivalry and sharp banter, but friendly. Is it my imagination or did we feel far more connected to the players, the clubs and even rival fans? Happy days.

BEDFORDSHIRE OLD GOLD AND BLACK

Nice post Stoney Lane.

As my first game at Molineux was not until 1960/61 vs Preston North End aged 9, for years after my dad regaled me with stories from the golden period of the 1950's waxing lyrical about Honved, Madrid, Moscow Dynamo, Spartak and so on "under the Molineux lights" with attendances of 56,000 or so. Of course he rabbited on about winning the 3 titles and the FA cup etc etc and I just loved it.

He was at The Hawthorns in April 1954 for what was classed as the virtual title decider. Wolves went onto clinch the title and Albion beat Preston 3-2 in the FA Cup Final.

Blimey did all that really occur in the Black Country?

With domestic football now principally dominated by London and Lancashire for years to come (I still class Manchester and Liverpool as cities in Lancashire), and without being in any way pessimistic just expressing some realism, the rest of us ain't got a cat in hells chance of even a sniff at the Premiership title.

Us less than you as we are in a division lower!

How different it was in the era mentioned by Malcolm Finlayson in respect of Alfredo di Stefano. During that period any number of so called "smaller" teams could and did win the title. Portsmouth, Burnley and Ipswich Town all clinched the league title between 1950 and 1962. The likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool were in contention at sometime or another.

Nevertheless I still attend all Wolves home games, even though its about 200 miles round trip (we moved to Bedford 3 years ago for family reasons) and probably like you with Albion, I still feel an intense pride in the club I have supported for over 50 years despite the latest fall from grace.

Remarkably there is a Wolves supporters club in Bedford with 23 members. Why? I have no idea - its just here! We must all be mad.

My good lady just shakes her head and mutters "will you never, EVER grow out of it". Well...............no, never, EVER.

All the best.

Old Gold Heart

What a great post. Top man. I wish we could be much friendlier rivals like we used to be in those days. Hope you stay up

Codsallman

And to think we did it all without a CEO......

Jack the Hat

I remember that match when wolves won 3-2, my half-brother paid a couple of bob if that at the turn-styles for me to see it. What a fine Centre-Forward Alfredo was, I felt Real wasn't in top gear. Good job it was a friendly.

Condolences to family and friends.

The game loses.

_______________ J♣H.

Wolfman

Grew up watching you chaps...thank you so much!!

Solentwolves

"...... we didn't fear anyone. We didn't expect to lose." Great times. So pleased I was at Molineux to see Di Stefano and the rest of that legendary Madrid side. Beating them was thrilling to say the least. It has all been said about Di Stefano - a truly great player - R.I.P.

DancesWithWolves

How the mighty have fallen! If I remember rightly, I was (as a young school kid) allowed to stay up to listen on the radio. In those days usually only the second half of a fixture was broadcast live on the radio, and sometimes it wasn't even broadcast live, but recorded and broadcast later! Anyway, if memory is not playing tricks, we tuned in to be greeted with the news that Wolves were being led by two goals to nil at half time! (Maybe I have the wrong match?). Obviously we were a lot happier at full time!

Pembrokeshire Wolf

DWW - I think the famous fifties floodlight match where we were 0-2 down at half-time but stormed back to win 3-2 was against Honved. I wasn't there, but the second-half was on telly and I remember it well.

I was fortunate enough to attend some of the others, including Real Madrid and Moscow Dynamo (2-1).

So I was fortunate to see AdS - and to see Billy Wright keep him quiet. But what a player and what a man!

RIP.

Lesterwolf

That is the difference that jack the hat cannot get his head around. excuse the pun. They may be in the prem but the baggies do not have a history. The third greatest team in English football. That is what makes us special. I am 76 and saw all those historic games, although I did see the charity game with wba that finished 4_4. That was a decent game also.

Jack the Hat

Lester,

Dead right, Going over the top at winning a friendly against a class club who were having a warm down after their cup escapades.

Gorra loff ay ya.

Now tell me about Gento giving you lot the runaround. What a winger he was.

BOING~~~~BOING~~~~J♣H.

Codsallman

Leister, come on let's be nice to the Boggies, it's coming up to their centenary year (2019/20).

We should all join together and celebrate the momentous occasion when the Boggies won their one and only 1st Division championship.

It is good that little people like Jack the **at support the little teams and they should be applauded.

crywolf_once2often

Well said Lester.

History is always "ancient" to those whose history is not all that illustrious.

Some of our neighbours may think they are lording it over us, but you know what they say: What goes around comes around.

If it weren't for the 60 million quid, I wouldn't be all that enthusiastic about the Greed League. Some of my happiest times as a Wolves fan have been the promotion pushes, especially the first one for me 66-67. Let's face it, as things are, none of our neighbours will know the excitement (and anguish) of challenging for the top honours in the PL, not even a place in the top four. After we were 'celebrating' our 3-2 defeat at home to Blackburn a few seasons ago, I asked myself, when things had calmed down: Is this as good as it gets now?

One of our neighbours proudly proclaim: We know what we are. Too true.

chris h

Crywolf, I remember and enjoyed that 66/67 season. But at the end of the day it was second division football. I enjoyed the victory over Juventus, and the other top teams we beat in the early to mid 70s much more. You mention that Blackburn game, but what about those great victories that same season against Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Wonderful whole hearted performances and results. The shame was we couldn't build upon that, they spent the money on the new North Bank instead.

Ritchie Wolves

Old chap, I was there when we beat Juventus and I have to say the team we had in the late sixties and through to the mid seventies was a toil for anyone, specially when Waggy was fit and running at em.

colindbaggie

And this has to do with Alfredo di Stefano. I thought these comments were to do with him.

Pembrokeshire Wolf

You're absolutely right.

But maybe we dingles have reminiscences that are magic to us. Unlike some others..............

colindbaggie

No disrespect meant but one or two of the comments on here would've been more apreciated posted on a Wolves only page.

Hey mar mate, I don't often reply to you lot when you come on here but you don't ever insinuate that this fella is disrespectful. Read below on my blog of di Stefano and if you ever dream of speaking to me again then do it with respect...........................

Ritchie Wolves

This is from me don't know why my name is not attached.

Cornish Wolf

For this match and the games against the Russian sides, who also were soundly beaten, I was signed on schoolboy forms with Wolves. In this way I was very lucky as to get in free for them all. I don't think that at the time I realised quite what an outstanding side Wolves were as we largely beat all comers and that was the norm.

Stan Cullis would tolerate nothing but the greatest effort, woe betide any player who did not give his all.

Yes, di Stefarno must be counted amongst the all time greats.

Up The Wolves

Bleydh

And there was Honved. A side that contained many of the Hugarian national side which had trounced England on two occasions previously.

Yes, thos were the days my friend.

Cornish Wolf

Bleydh

I still have my much treasured program from that match together with the Express and Star report.

Up The Wolves

Farmer Ted

In the main Wolves, and particularly Billy Wright keeping Alf quiet that night, it was one of those famous floodlit Molineux matches that got me hooked on the Wolves in those days. I think the second half was live on television (not sure cos I was in the Waterloo) and maybe George Best was watching over in Belfast.

To remember Alfred Di Stefano at his best was to have watched he and Puskas ...and Gento ...and Del Sol ...and all the others run Eintracht ragged 7-3 in the 1960 European Cup Final, on telly from Hampden.

How many times did we replay THAT game over and over in the playgrounds and parks of England?

Ritchie Wolves

This fella was a bit before my time but I think Chris H would remember him!!!!

Anyway, I can remember my old boy when we still lived in the North East telling me when I was about 5/6 that this Di Stefano fella was the best he had ever seen, even better than Jackie Millburn! I also remember staunch Newcastle United lads playing footy in the street used to flip a coin to see who was Di Stefano for the day.

I suppose he was the first world class player In my time of watching football and I can just about remember the news footage. Then of course came the best player of all time and set the tone for the modern game and I don't have to state his name..........................

honved1954

What great days they were, remember it like it was yesterday. Each old player that passes on is a great loss to what we had back then.

Espanol - Los respetos y condolances a su familia, pueda Dios esté con usted.....