Bustling forward Alf Wood joined Hull City in November 1974 with over 100 league goals under his belt and, at 29 years of age, his prime years immediately before him. The £75,000 fee City paid for his services was a club record that stood for several years. Newly appointed City manager John Kaye slotted Wood straight into the first team, who promptly scored on his debut at Portsmouth then made his Boothferry Park bow in the grandest style possible for Hull City in the 1970s – a home match against Manchester United. The Tigers won 2-0 with Ken Wagstaff and Malcolm Lord on the scoresheet and Wood’s time had got off to a bona fide flying start.
Alas, City then suffered a goal drought and embarked on a winless run that saw a slide down the table. Wood had to wait until February for a second goal – in a 1-1 draw at Fulham – as his planned strike partnership with Ken Wagstaff faltered. Kaye had taken steps to shore up City’s defence and a series of narrow victories eventually sealed safety by a decent margin, with Wood contributing goals in March against Bristol Rovers and April against Bolton.
A goal a month wasn’t what City had hoped from their new striker, who combined a robust approach with an aerial threat from crosses (earlier in his career Wood had been a useful centre half). In 1975/76 Waggy struggling with injury and Wood was City’s main focal point up front. September goals in wins against Orient and Preston (the latter in the League Cup) showed his value, but again a mini-drought emerged in front of goals that was only broken in a November game at Doncaster, another League Cup tie. At the end of November 1975 things finally started to click and in nine games Wood scored seven times, including two in a FA Cup replay at Plymouth. However the seventh goal in that run – the opener in a 2-2 draw at Blackpool on the last day of January 1976 – proved to be Wood’s last goal for the Tigers and by mid-March he was replaced by new signing Dave Sunley. Alf played in three Anglo Scottish Cup games at the start of 1976/77 and also started the first league game of the season at Hereford, but that was the end of his contribution to the Tigers’ cause and he left the club in October 1976.
Born in Macclesfield, Alfred Edward Howson Wood was an apprentice at Manchester City in the early 1960s. At that time a defender, Wood debuted for the Blues in April 1963 and played 32 games in all competitions before moving to Shrewsbury Town in June 1966. At Gay Meadow Wood established himself over time as a potent and powerful forward – though he remained primarily a defender for his first two seasons. He was practically ever-present over six seasons and in 1971/72, his final season at the Shrews, he started all 46 league games up front and rattled in 40 goals in all competitions, including a hattrick at home to Halifax Town and a five goal haul against Blackburn Rovers. Despite these goals Shrewsbury finished midway up the Division Three table and in June 1972, seeking bigger challenges, Alf switched to Millwall, who had just missed out on promotion to the First Division by a single point. His goalscoring exploits were maintained in 1972/73, starting all 42 league games for Millwall and scoring 15 league goals plus 4 more in Cup competitions. Ever-present again in 1973/74, he scored another 21 goals in the League and 3 in the Cups. However he only scored twice in sixteen games at the start of 1974/75, which perhaps led to Millwall manager Gordon Jago’s willingness to accept a £75,000 offer from Hull City for Wood’s services.
Alf left Hull City for Middlesbrough in October 1976 but only stayed at Ayresome Park for 10 months before moving to Walsall in July 1977. He spent just one season at Walsall too – and in each of these last two Football League seasons Alf scored only two league goals. The magic had faded.
In June 1978 Wood joined Stafford Rangers, who played in the Northern Premier League in the years before the Conference was conceived. In Wood’s first season Stafford reached the semi-finals of the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup and won the FA Challenge Trophy in front of a 32,000 gate at Wembley – with Alf Wood scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Kettering Town. This was a fitting swansong to a fine career that drew to a close in 1980.
After retirement Wood worked as Promotions Manager for Birmingham City and owned a sports trophy manufacturing company. In 2012 Alf was inducted into the Shrewsbury Town Hall of Fame. By his late 50s Wood was showing signs of dementia and for the last seven years of his life he was placed in a specialist care home once his wife Joan, a childhood sweetheart from his days in Manchester, was unable to cater for his needs in their Sutton Coldfield home. After a long battle Alf Wood’s death was announced on 13 April 2020.
Wood was an England Youth international during his early years at Manchester City.
Date/Place of Birth: 25 October 1945, Macclesfield
Hull City First Game: 16 November 1974, Portsmouth A (Division Two), 29 years, 22 days old
Hull City Final Game: 21 August 1976, Hereford United A (Division Two), 30 years, 301 days old
Manchester City (1961-1966), Shrewsbury Town (1966-1972), Millwall (1972-1974), Hull City (1974-1976), Middlesbrough (1976-1977), Walsall (1977-1978), Stafford Rangers (1978-1980)
Hull City Record
Career: 66 apps, 14 goalsAlf Wood
|1974/75||22 (0)||4||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1975/76||28 (2)||6||3 (0)||2||3 (0)||2||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|1976/77||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||3 (0)||0|