Steve Bull : biography
Stephen George "Steve" Bull, MBE, (born 28 March 1965 in Tipton, Sandwell) is an English former 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, although the club was never in the top division of English football during his time there.
He was capped 13 times for the England team between 1989 and 1990, scoring four goals.
Bull was born on Tipton’s Moat Farm estate 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 0-1), 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. He went on to make 464 league appearances for the club and 561 appearances in total.
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, 1986–87, 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 three teams (later matched by Burnley and Preston North End) 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 hat-tricks in the league against Exeter City and Darlington. He also scored hat-tricks in cup competitions against Cheltenham Town and Brentford.
On 11 February 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 fellow promotion contenders Fulham at the Molineux, which Wolves won 5-2.
In the 1988–89 season, he 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.