How good was Wilf Mannion?

I only saw Mannion a couple of times in his final season at the Boro. He was undoubtedly a good player even then. The main thing I noticed that he was very rarely caught with the ball.

That seems to be a common theme of his team mates in the England set up of the time. If he couldn't do it himself he passed the ball to someone who could and a man in space too. I can't remember who said it but I think it was either Finney or Matthews - " I like playing with Wilf, he makes me look good"

The comment from Wilf about the little fellah was that he sometimes held onto the ball a bit too long

I concur with the remark above about Clough - the best striker I ever saw and remember that I've seen Bocsik, JFH and Viduka and Clough scored very few headed goals
My Dad was also a huge Mannion fan. He saw all the players of that era, but Mannion was the one he talked about most.
My dad grew up with him .He used to go to away games in the day when the players were sat with the fans on the trains so travelled with him and his boots.
My dad never stopped talking about him .He also saw Juninho , who he said was a great player but wilf was better.
He was before my time but I remember hearing my Dad talk about watching him. He thought Mannion was the greatest ever player. Then again he said he saw him juggle the ball up on to his head and run half the length of the pitch with it on his head before dropping it down and volleying it into the net.
Could have been some rose tinted glasses involved.
My Grandad told me that and an old plater I used to work with told the same story, they both got the same look on their faces as they recalled the memories of Wilf.
I know that Celtic offered Boro a blank cheque for Mannion at a time when they didn't spend money, that from my Scottish Grandad who loved Boro and followed them home and away and said he was the best he'd ever seen.
I have heard lots of people who had seen him say just how brilliant he was. This, not just locally but all around the country. Whenever I travelled anywhere in the country and i told them I was from Middlesbrough the first words out of their mouths was "Wilf Mannion".
On comparing Wilf to Juninho. When Juninho came here all of the old timers would say that Wilf was better because when he ran with the ball into the penalty area, he didn't fall over!! (Hey, i'm only the messenger)
In fairness, older generations always claim that things were better in their day. There really is no point comparing Juninho to Mannion, in my view.

I’m sure Wilf was a fantastic footballer, but I’ve no idea personally. I’ve read “Golden Boy” which is very good. And let’s face it, we’re all biased, despite never seeing him play.
I've heard it said that Mannion turned down the cushy PT instructor role to go with "his mates" to war. He ended up losing a lot of them when they got pinned down in southern Sicily.. Apparently, he was more mentally fragile afterwards and it may have accounted for the period of "his strike". I've also heard it said that he was never quite the footballer after the war as he was before but that's before even my time


  • Memories of Mannion South Bank's Golden Boy (Tosh Warwick).pdf
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I was talking to my dad yesterday about Mannion and he was saying what a lovely man he was. My dad was regaling stories about Wilf and not all football when he dropped into the conversation that my nana's cousin, Micky Fenton played in the same team as him. I do recall my nana telling me she was related to Fenton when I was around 10 years of age but I didn't take much notice because he wasn't playing in the team I was watching at the time (1970).

My nana was a really good footballer and played for Bolckow Ladies. If only I could have that time back and ask her all the questions I have now.