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Arms balanced, paused but ready to move –
Ball a plaything at his feet, waiting for the
Inevitable lunge; then off, whippet-fast down
The touchline, his home territory – that white
Chalk line his guide to glory when the left leg
Swings back and plants an inch perfect cross
Into the opponents’ goal area; 1 – 0 to Wolves.
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Mancunian by birth, a City boy moved south
To Wolverhampton on Christmas Eve, 1964 –
And what a present he was for the next decade.
Tormentor of the tightest defences in that tough,
Uncompromising era – he sparkled under the
Molineux lights. Too often given the cynical
Chop, injury became an occupational hazard.
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And most criminally of all, he never played
For England; a shameful lack of recognition
On the part of Sir Alf. Still, the North Bankers
Loved him – “Davy, Davy Wagstaffe, Davy
Wagstaffe on the wing” they sang – his blank
Expression gave nothing away, so used was he
To disguising intentions from bloodthirsty backs.
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Kicked from Arsenal to Leeds, and most places
In between, he kept his dignity and his sanity intact,
Just about. No great honours came upon him, save
A League Cup winners’ medal, even then substituted
Late on with a knock. But despite the missed matches,
Despite the constant threat of permanent damage,
That left foot weaved magic, year in and year out.
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So, thank you Waggy; a gem of a player, a real
Artist in the tradition of Matthews and Meredith.
That number eleven shirt outside shorts; the scuttling
Dash to the goal line; the flighted ball to Dougan’s
Head, or Hibbitt’s boot – it came so easily to the man.
His kind so rare now, to the point of extinction – a
Privilege then to remember Waggy, at his mercurial best.