Johnny Phillips: Peerless Deano still classiest defender I have seen at Wolves

It’s 10 years since Dean Richards passed away so tragically.

Dean Richards
Dean Richards

Paul Berry reminded us all of just how loved he was in his brilliant tribute to the former Wolves defender in this newspaper this week.

Former colleagues spoke lovingly of their time with the player, who was respected for his life on and off the pitch. As a supporter, I remember the arrival of the gifted central defender, on loan from Bradford City, as if it was yesterday. Manager Graham Taylor’s madcap 1994/95 season was in its latter stages and the injury list was lengthening at Molineux.

I was a student in Leeds at the time and knew a couple of Bradford fans, who spoke glowingly of the player’s abilities. His capture seemed like a coup of sorts. Why hadn’t a decent Premier League team snapped him up, rather than First Division hopefuls Wolves?

From the moment he first stepped on to the pitch, Richards represented something so different to anything I had previously witnessed at the back for Wolves.

The Graham Turner era defenders were as honest as they come. Everything was left out on the pitch, but they looked like they toiled in their work. Richards was something else. Defenders don’t glide across the turf, but he did.

It all seemed so graceful and effortless. As with many of his predecessors, injuries would rob Wolves of his best days, but Richards left an indelible mark. A quarter of a century on, there has not been a more gifted centre-half to wear the gold and black. Some have gone on to greater achievements, but none have had the class of Dean Richards.

n A trait of the Nuno-inspired success at Wolves in the last four years has been the supporter-led media content. A raft of podcasts have sprung up in recent years dedicated to the club. One of those, The Wolf Whistle, has now been accompanied by a book raising money for charity.

The Wolf Whistle founder, Jason Guy, has brought out a written version of the podcasts, Tales From The Tape, which tells the stories of 36 former Wolves players and managers from the last 50 years at Molineux.

The 350-page hardback has already sold over 700 copies, raising over £6,000 for Breast Cancer Now and the neonatal department at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital. Guy is already familiar to many supporters, having hosted many nights with former players at the Mount Hotel in recent years.

Guy admits to being overwhelmed by the success of the book and is delighted at the funds already raised for two charities close to his heart.

Copies of the book are available at talesfromthetape.co.uk

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