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Wolves players, friends and family pay their respects to John 'Foz' Hendley

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Family, friends, players and supporters packed out St Peter’s Church to say goodbye to much-loved Wolves stalwart John ‘Foz’ Hendley.

Foz worked at Wolves for 20 years but was associated with the club for a lifetime.

He passed away suddenly at the start of the year aged 67 and a memorial service took place at St Peter’s this afternoon where poignant memories were shared of a true larger-than-life character.

The service followed a private cremation and the cortège also paused briefly outside Molineux where staff and friends paid their respects.

A host of former players attended the memorial service at the St Peter's, which was standing room only.

Steve Bull, John Richards, Kenny Hibbitt, Andy Thompson, Don Goodman, Willie Carr, Phil Parkes, Mel Eves, Jody Craddock, Steve Daley, Kevin Foley, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Tony Daley, Ted Farmer, Rob Edwards, Ally Robertson, Robbie Dennison and Andy Mutch were among those to attend.

Wolves stalwart John ‘Foz’ Hendley who was remembered today

Current club captain Danny Batth and goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne, football presenter and Wolves fan Jacqui Oatley as well as club managing director Laurie Dalrymple and sporting director Kevin Thelwell also attended the service.

During the 75-minute memorial, which was led by Rev David Wright, songs were played including You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor and Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold, while hymns included Abide With Me and Jerusalem.

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The large crowd heard stories and anecdotes from Foz’s colourful life with his sister Julie, fellow musician John and speedway friend Mark among those to speak.

Former Wolves club secretary Richard Skirrow shared takes of Foz working at Wolves, where he had been programme editor and part of the press team, as well as being an unofficial club historian, for many years.

Mr Skirrow called Foz 'a many-layered character who is difficult to do justice to'.

He added: “John was a Wulfrunian through and through – he worked at New Cross Hospital, worked at Manders, worked at Wolves, walked his dog in Bantock Park...and ran the Wolverhampton Marathon.”

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Mr Skirrow spoke of Foz’s loves in life – Wolves, of course, as well as cricket, railways and steam trains, memorabilia, speedway, performing music...and X-Files star Gillian Anderson.

He also detailed the notorious grumpy Foz’s dislikes, namely Sky Sports, railway stations being called train stations, the price of a pint in London and Manchester United fans living south of Knutsford.

Mr Skirrow added: “For every like there was a corresponding dislike....West Bromwich Albion. He had a picture of the Albion team wrapped around his office bin.

“But his ability to amuse and entertain...he once attended a Christmas party dressed as Susan Boyle...shouldn’t lead anyone to think of him as a club jester.

“John was a very important part of the backroom team. He had three places of work – his Molineux office, the press box and the training ground.

“At the office he was surrounded more and more by young people, tech-savvy people, but he managed as ever to establish a rapport with them and become much-liked and part of the team.

“He would write well, he would write to deadlines.

“Robert Plant, a good friend of John’s rang once rang him from some exotic location and started winding John up with the location, the sun, the beautiful people, the Champagne. John replied...’yes but you’re not at Barnsley are you’.

“If Wolves were playing at Barnsley there was no better place to be.”

Mr Skirrow would travel with Foz to away games.

“The main problem was the in-car entertainment,” he continued. “If you tired of folk music the options were Winston Churchill speeches or, my particular favourite, steam trains going up steep inclines. So usually he travelled with somebody else.

“He had a skill for interacting with people – he was a true friend of so many players, past and present.

“Every club should have a John.”

Foz had attended an unbroken spell of more than 1,100 Wolves games. His last was a memorable 2-1 win at Bristol City on December 30 when Ryan Bennett’s last-gasp header won the game for 10-man Wolves in injury time.

Any supporters wishing to make a donation in Foz’s memory are asked to support the British Heart Foundation or Severn Valley Railway charity.

WATCH: John Richards, Andy Thompson, Kevin Foley, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Don Goodman pay tribute to John 'Foz' Hendley

Wolves players attend funeral of John 'Foz' Hendley

A number of players shared their thoughts and memories of Foz after the service.

Don Goodman

It just shows you what a great guy he was – what a turnout. From all kinds of different people from every facet of his life.

It shows what a popular, lovely man he was. He made us all laugh and that’s what comes out more than anything else.

I go back to the days when he first started interviewing the players – him and Mike Stowell, they were like a double act.

In my more recent times going back to Molineux with Sky Sports – that I know he hated! – and just listening to him attempt to read the names on the team sheet out was hilarious.

He always made us laugh and he really will be missed.

He was one of the lads and he always will be.

He’s gone but nobody will forget him.

Kevin Foley

He was Mr Wolverhampton Wanderers. From the first day I got there he introduced himself and cracked a joke I’m sure, like he always did.

He just knew everything there is to know about Wolves.

He was a great servant for the club and more than anything he enjoyed doing what he did as well.

He’s going to be a great loss but today’s service was fantastic, hearing some of the stories and about his hobbies.

To know he was doing what he loved until the end is a great feeling. You can just tell by how many people are here what a fantastic guy he was.

Andy Thompson

It was a great service and send-off with all the speeches from people who personally knew him from different areas.

He was one of the lads. When we were on pre-season tours he used to come out with us, have a drink and he was very relaxed around us.

I knew Foz for a long time what with doing the radio now. He was always his grumpy self! We all knew that. But he had a heart of gold.

He always give me stick over my height! He always used to absolutely hammer me when we sat on the coach coming back from away games.

He’s someone we’re going to miss a lot.

He was one of the few constants at the club. His last game was Bristol City and I’ll always remember it with that late winner by Bennett.

He always used to be the last one sitting up in the press room collecting the team sheets from the away games because that’s the kind of thing he used to keep.

He was definitely Wolves through and through.

John Richards

It was a fantastic tribute from everyone in there, some lovely stories and everyone would agree entirely.

He was a great bloke, got on well with everybody, he was a bit grumpy at times but who isn’t.

I’ve got a lot of really pleasant memories about John, he knew everything about Wolves particularly the players. He probably knew more about my career than I did myself.

He just loved the club.

It was quite ironic because I was due to meet up with him that week after New Year, he was going to give me some advice on some programmes I’ve got.

We’ll miss him, we really will.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

He was a great guy to be around, a funny guy, he came on pre-season trips with us and he was just liked by everyone, all of the lads.

He was an easy going guy. That promotion year, he was a massive part of the things that people don’t see behind the scenes, that camaraderie.

What a great guy and what a send off.

Mr Wolves through and through. The send off today showed it all – I learned things today I didn’t know about him but my memories of him were all great funny ones.

Paul Berry (former Wolves head of media)

Foz was always a little bit grumpy in the mornings, then he got better through the day and then by the end of the day you’d be crying with laughter in the office.

He just had an ability to just get on with everyone. The banter at a football club can be quite an unforgiving place but he gave as good as he got.

He was an unbelievable font of knowledge – he was a Wolves encyclopaedia – but also a really good laugh, which you need during the tough times.

The relationship he built up with the players was the best I’ve ever seen, no one could crack it like he did.

I learned so much from him. He’d have the odd sleep or drink from time to time! But he was a fantastic character to have around the place.

In the office we used to get the history books out and quiz him on matches from years ago and he’d get the score and the scorers 95 per cent of the time.

That knowledge, as well as his personality, will be a huge loss. As Richard Skirrow said, every club needs someone like Foz. It’s just really sad that he’s not there anymore.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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