Ellesmere Port, Cheshire born centre half Stan Cullis signed for First Division Wolverhampton Wanderers from home town team Ellesmere Port Wednesday in February 1934 making his Football League debut against Huddersfield Town in February 1935. He became first choice in 1936-37 and Club Captain soon thereafter. Wolves were starting to establish themselves as a fine team and he was pivotal to their 1938 and 1939 campaigns, both seasons they finished runners up in the League Championship.
He made his England debut in October 1937 against Ireland in Belfast just short of his 21st birthday, winning 12 caps through to May 1939, captaining his country once in England’s final match before the Second World War, against Romania in Bucharest in May 1939. He also played 17 times in England wartime internationals and 3 times for The Football League.
He led Wolves to the 1939 FA Cup Final where they lost to 4-1 to Portsmouth, a shock result with Wolves having scored 19 goals getting to Wembley and only having conceded three. During the War he guested for several clubs including Gillingham, Glentoran and Liverpool, but after one season of peacetime football he announced his retirement in May 1947 after 174 games in old gold and black. He was appointed Assistant Manager at Wolves to Ted Vizard almost immediately and became manager the following June aged 31. He presided over the most successful era of the club over the next 18 years, became the youngest manager to win the FA Cup when Wolves beat Leicester City, in 1949, they won it again in 1960 against Blackburn Rovers. As well as being three times League Champions under Cullis they were three times runners up and three times placed third.
Sacked in September 1964 he became manager of Birmingham City for a further 4 and a half years in December 1965 before retirement. Bill Shankly paid high tribute to Cullis, saying: “While Stan was volatile and outrageous in what he said, he never swore. And he could be as soft as mash. He would give you his last penny. Stan was 100 per cent Wolverhampton. His blood must have been of old gold. He would have died for Wolverhampton. Above all, Stan is a very clever man who could have been successful at anything. When he left Wolverhampton, I think his heart was broken and he thought the whole world had come down on top of him. All round, as a player, as a manager, and for general intelligence, it would be difficult to name anyone since the game began who could qualify to be in the same class as Stan Cullis.”
NB the photograph Cullis stands between Cliff Britton (left) and Joe Mercer before a wartime international.