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Stephen George Bull, MBE (born 28 March 1965 in Tipton, Staffordshire) is an English former professional footballer who is best remembered for his 13-year spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He played there from 1986 until his retirement from playing in 1999, and holds the club's goalscoring record with 306 goals, which included 18 hat-tricks for the club.
|Full name||Stephen George Bull|
|Date of birth||28 March 1965|
|Place of birth||Tipton, Staffordshire, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|1984–1985||West Bromwich Albion|
|1985–1986||West Bromwich Albion||4||(2)|
|1986–1999||Wolverhampton Wanderers ||474||(250)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
He was capped 13 times for the England team between 1989 and 1990, scoring four goals.
Bull was born in Tipton and started school in September 1969 at Wednesbury Oak Primary School and moved up to Willingsworth High School in September 1976, by which time he was excelling in school football teams. The junior teams he played for included Ocker Hill infants, Red Lion and Newey Goodman. He left school in 1981 to join non-league Tipton Town. During this time he also held down a succession of factory jobs in addition to playing local league games.
He began his professional career, aged 19, after being recommended to West Bromwich Albion in 1984 by his Tipton Town manager Sid Day, who also worked as a scout for the Baggies. After initially having to train with the club's youth ranks, he was quickly offered a pro contract and moved into first team contention. He made his senior debut on 23 October 1985, replacing Garth Crooks in a 2–1 Full Members Cup win against Crystal Palace. He made his league debut as a substitute against QPR, away, on 12 April 1986 (lost 1-0), and his full debut at home to Sheffield Wednesday on 22 April (drew 1-1); they were his only league appearances that season and only appearances in top flight football.
Bull played three Second Division games for Albion after they were relegated in 1986, scoring twice, and also scored one goal in two League Cup appearances for the club. In November 1986, he was sold to local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, along with Andy Thompson, for £65,000 where he remained until the end of his professional career in 1999.
Bull's debut for Wolves, then languishing in the Fourth Division, was against Wrexham on 22 November 1986. His first goal for the club came on 2 December 1986 in the Freight Rover Trophy as Wolves beat Cardiff City 1–0 at Ninian Park.
In over 13 years at Wolves, Bull broke no less than four of the club's goalscoring records. He became their all-time leading goalscorer with 306 goals in competitive games (250 of them in the Football League, also a club record) and became their highest goalscorer in a single season when he scored 52 goals in competitive games during the 1987–88 season. Bull also scored a club record of 18 hat-tricks - the first of them against Hartlepool United in a 4-1 Fourth Division home win on 9 May 1987, the last on 17 August 1996 in a 3-0 Division One away win over Grimsby Town.
Bull's first season at the club saw him score a total of 19 goals for Wolves - 15 of them in the Fourth Division, in which they finished fourth - although they lost out on promotion after being beaten by Aldershot in the playoffs.
In the 1987–88 season, Wolves won the Fourth Division championship and became the first of only five teams (later matched by Burnley, Preston North End, Portsmouth and Sheffield United) to have been champions of all four divisions in the English league. Bull's impressive total of 52 goals in all competitions during the season included 34 goals in the league, with league hat-tricks against Exeter City and Darlington. He also scored hat-tricks in cup competitions against Cheltenham Town and Brentford. His 50th goal came just 15 months after signing for Wolves, when he found the net twice in a 4-0 home win against Peterborough United on 9 February 1988.
On 24 January 1989, after just over two years at the club, he surpassed the 100-goal margin for Wolves when scoring a hat-trick in a Third Division game against Bristol City at Molineux, which Wolves won 3-0.
In the 1988–89 season, Bull inspired Wolves to a second successive promotion, this time as Third Division champions, with 50 goals - marking a tally of 102 goals in two seasons. While still playing in the Third Division, he was selected for the England team and scored on his debut against Scotland at Hampden Park. 37 of his goals that season came in the league for Wolves. He achieved his first four-goal haul on 26 November 1988 in a 6-0 home win over Preston North End, scoring a hat-trick the following month in a 6-2 home victory over Mansfield Town. He managed a third league hat-trick that season in a 5–2 February home win over Fulham. He also scored freely in the cups, scoring four against Port Vale in the Sherpa Van Trophy and then against Bristol City in the same competition.
In 1989–90, he finally played Second Division football for Wolves, his first goal at this level coming on 26 August 1989 in a 1-1 home draw with Bradford City. On Boxing Day, he reached the 10-goal margin in the league, before impressively grabbing all four goals for Wolves in their 4-1 win at Newcastle United on New Year's Day 1990. On 20 March, in the Black Country derby at Molineux, as Wolves beat struggling Albion 2-1 to boost their promotion hopes, Bull scored his 20th league goal of the campaign. A hat-trick against Leicester City followed a month later, and he finished that campaign with 24 league goals and 26 in all competitions, although Wolves missed out on the playoffs and the chance of a third successive promotion.
He started the 1990–91 season in style with both goals at home to promotion favourites Oldham Athletic, who came away from the Molineux with a 3–2 victory. These goals took his tally in all competitions to 150 goals in just under four years with Wolves. A hat-trick in a 4–0 home win over Bristol City saw him reach the 11-goal mark in the league by 6 October, and he reached the 20-goal margin (for the fourth reason running) on 26 February as they beat Port Vale 3-1 at home. A hat-trick at home to Oxford United in a thrilling 3–3 draw came the following month, and Bull finished the season with 25 goals in the league and 26 in all competitions.
Late in the 1991-92 season, he scored his 195th competitive goal for Wolves after just over five years at the club, breaking the club's decade-old goalscoring record set by John Richards. Early in the following season he scored his 200th goal for the club, less than six years after signing. It came on 18 August 1992 in a 3–0 home win over Leicester City in the new Division One, as the Second Division was renamed that year with the creation of the new FA Premier League as the top division of English football.
Bull remained a prolific goalscorer in the second tier of the English league, and stayed loyal to his Midlands roots despite interest from the likes of Coventry City and Newcastle United. In 1995, when former England manager Graham Taylor was manager at Molineux, he agreed with then Coventry City boss, Ron Atkinson, the sale of Bull to the Highfield Road club. There was an outcry from the gold and black sector of the Black Country and the local Express and Star newspaper launched a campaign to keep him at Wolves. Ultimately, Bull backed out of the opportunity to play Premier League football with Coventry and decided to stay at Wolves.
Bull played only one game in the English top flight — coming on as a substitute, replacing Andy Thompson, for West Bromwich Albion in 1986 — the rest of his career was spent in the lower divisions. He came close to achieving his ambition of reaching the Premier League in 1995 and 1997, but Wolves lost in the play-offs both times.
During his final two seasons at Molineux, his chances of first-team football were reduced by a series of knee injuries. He reached the 300-goal milestone on 18 February 1998, scoring in a 2-0 home win over Bradford City in the league. It was the last of nine goals he would score for Wolves that season, as he missed many games due to injuries.
Bull's final goal for the club came against Bury on 26 September 1998 and his final competitive appearance for the club came on the last day of the 1998-99 season against Bradford City. By January 1999, however, reports were circulating that Bull would soon be retiring as a player due to an ongoing knee problem.
On 13 July 1999, at the age of 34, Bull finally admitted defeat in his battle to fully regain fitness and announced his retirement after 13 years with Wolves.
Known by his fans as 'Bully' for his club loyalty, rapport with supporters and passion for the game and also known as the "Tipton Skin" for his trademark closely cropped haircut, he received an MBE for services to Association Football in December 1999, shortly after retiring as a first class player.
Bull is regarded as a legend at Wolves and one of the main stands at their home ground, Molineux, is named after him. This commemoration was made in June 2003, with the stand having previously being known as the John Ireland Stand.
Bull was capped 13 times by England, and scored 4 goals, all coming in the buildup to Italia 90. He scored his first goal on his debut after replacing an injured John Fashanu against Scotland on 27 May 1989, a low right footed shot to the net. Two more goals came in a friendly against Czechoslovakia on 25 April 1990. His final England goal came against Tunisia, which earned him a place in Bobby Robson's World Cup squad.
Despite starting his international career well, he did not score another goal for England after this. He played four times during Italia 90 - three times as a substitute against Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium and once as a starter against Egypt. His final match for England was on 17 October 1990 against Poland, but he was not picked again by his future Wolves manager, Graham Taylor.
Bull was still technically a Third Division player when he won his first cap, at the end of the 1988-89 season, as Wolves had not yet played in Division Two after their promotion that season. He remains the last player to be capped by England from outside the top two tiers, and one of only five post-war players so honoured.
In total he scored nine goals in 23 appearances for his country at full, U-21 and "B" team levels.
On 21 February 2008, Bull entered management with Conference National side Stafford Rangers. He had previously worked as a coach at this level with Hereford United in the 2000–01 season and had completed his UEFA Pro B coaching licence in the years in between. The team were in the relegation zone at the time of his appointment and he was unable to prevent relegation. He parted company with the club on 12 December 2008.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Third Division Championship: 1988–89
- Fourth Division Championship: 1987–88
- Football League Trophy: 1988
- Freeman of the City of Wolverhampton, Sept 2018
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|West Bromwich Albion||1985–86||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||3||0|
- Steve Bull Archived 28 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Wolves Stats. Retrieved Nov 2012.
- Steve Bull interview "Of those 306 goals, I think 300 were against the Albion!" Retrieved Nov 2012.
- Matthews, Tony (2005). The Who's Who of West Bromwich Albion. Breedon Books. p. 40. ISBN 1-85983-474-4.
- Matthews, Tony (2007). West Bromwich Albion: The Complete Record. Breedon Books. p. 395. ISBN 978-1-85983-565-4.
- Matthews, Tony (2007). West Bromwich Albion: The Complete Record. Breedon Books. pp. 348–349. ISBN 978-1-85983-565-4.
- Matthews, Tony (2007). West Bromwich Albion: The Complete Record. Breedon Books. pp. 350–351. ISBN 978-1-85983-565-4.
- "1986-1987 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "1996-1997 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "1986-1987 General Stats". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "1987-1988 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "1988-1989 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "1989-1990 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "1990-1991 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "STEVE BULL MBE : Official Website". Bullybully.net. Archived from the original on 8 February 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "New Straits Times - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- Smyth, Rob (17 July 2008). "On Second Thoughts: Leeds United's 1991-92 title". The Guardian. London.
-  Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "1997-1998 Season". Wolves-stats.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Bully's 306 Goals". 18 July 2012.
- "Wolves 1 Bury 0". Sporting Life. 26 September 1998. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- Shaw, Phil (9 May 1999). "Bradford crown Jewell's season - Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Bradford City 3". London: The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 May 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "Football: Wolves will go with Flo. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Football: BRAVE BULLY FORCED TO QUIT. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- The others were: Tommy Lawton, 4 caps while playing for Notts County in 1947-48, Reg Matthews, 5 caps while playing for Coventry City in 1955-56, Johnny Byrne, 1 cap while playing for Crystal Palace in 1961-62 and Peter Taylor, 4 caps while playing for Crystal Palace in 1975-76.
- "Bully out as Stafford Rangers boss". Express & Star. 12 December 2008. Archived from the original on 15 December 2008.
- "Football Gary Bull, the Nottingham Forest striker, has joined Second Division Brighton". The Independent. London. 18 August 1995.
- Includes other competitive competitions, including the Football League play-offs, League Trophy, Full Members Cup, Anglo-Italian Cup, FA Trophy