The Encylopedia of British Football

Don Bilton

Don Bilton, a goalkeeper, was a member of the York City groundstaff before Major Frank Buckley, the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, signed him in 1938.

In the summer of 1937 Frank Buckley was approached by a chemist called Menzies Sharp. He claimed he had a "secret remedy that would give the players confidence". It is believed that Sharp's ideas were based on the experiments of Serge Voronoff, a French doctor, who had been born in Russia. Between 1917 and 1926, Voronoff carried out over five hundred transplantations on sheep and goats, and also on a bull, grafting testicles from younger animals to older ones. Voronoff's observations indicated that the transplantations caused the older animals to regain the vigor of younger animals.

Sharp's "gland treatment" involved a course of twelve injections. Frank Buckley later explained: "To be honest, I was rather sceptical about this treatment and thought it best to try it out on myself first. The treatment lasted three or four months. Long before it was over I felt so much benefit that I asked the players if they would be willing to undergo it and that is how the gland treatment became general at Molineux."

Dicky Dorsett refused to undergo the "gland treatment". According to Patrick A. Quirke, the author of The Major: The Life and Times of Frank Buckley (2007): "Dorsett, a well-established and experienced footballer, had stood up to Major Buckley's insistence (some might say bullying) on a number of occasions."

Don Bilton later recalled that on his arrival at the club he was instructed by Buckley to report to the medical room for gland injections. Bilton replied: "I'm sorry Sir, but I am only seventeen and still under my father's guidance. He will not want me to have injections." Buckley told him that he was under contract and had to do as he was told. Bilton's father went to see Buckley the following day and after a heated row the manager backed-down. However, Bilton claimed that: "Buckley was not at all pleased by this and I never did much good at Wolves after that!"

Major Frank Buckley never selected Bilton for the first-team and he left the club.