Saturday, 8 December 2007

Ten things about Wolves

Game number eleven for me will be a trip to the heart of the Black Country to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Cambridge United. Not only will this be the furthest distance for me to travel out of all the games so far, but it will also be the furthest up the pyramid structure I will have ventured. Straight from non-league football to the dizzy heights of the Football League Championship, leapfrogging Leagues One and Two in the process. Oxygen may be required.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are probably one of the most famous of British clubs, with a rich history. By way of an introduction to the Wolves, here is another list. A list of ten things...

In no particular order:

1. The FA Cup. Wolves have won the FA Cup four times and have been runners-up another four times. They first lifted the famous trophy in 1893 after they beat Everton 1-0. Their first ever FA Cup fixture was in October 1883 when they knocked out Long Eaton Rangers (4-1). Wolves have also played in FA Cup finals on more grounds than any other club, having trodden the turf at The Oval, The Crystal Palace, Fallowfield, Stamford Bridge and Wembley.

2. The very first season. Wolves were one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888. They were joined by Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke and West Bromwich Albion. In that inaugural campaign, Wolves finished a credible 3rd.

3. Gold and black. Wolves probably have one of the most instantly recognisable kit colour combinations, the famous old gold and black. The early gold and black colours appeared in various guises including stripes and diagonal halves. However, their original colours were red and white striped shirts with white shorts.

4. All conquering? Wolves have a unique Football League record. They are the only club to have won all five different Football League divisions that they have played in. The have won the First Division (three times between 1954 and 1959), the Second Division (1932), the Third division (1989) the Fourth Division (1988) and the old Third Division North (1924). And do you remember that classic cup tournament of the 1970s, the Texaco Cup? They lifted that back in 1971.

5. Managers. In July 2006, Mick McCarthy took over the helm at Wolves having already managed Millwall, Republic of Ireland and Sunderland. Other well known names who have managed the club include Major Frank Buckley, Stan Cullis, Tommy Docherty, Graham Taylor and Glen Hoddle, who McCarthy took over from.

6. Players. Famous players to have donned the gold and black include Peter Broadbent, Derek Dougan, Ron Flowers, Kenny Hibbitt, Emlyn Hughes, Jimmy Mullen, Derek Parkin and Billy Wright. But the fans favourite is Steve Bull, who was voted the "Best Player" in the club's history in a poll last month, a poll that marked the 100th anniversary of the Professional Footballer's Association (PFA). At Wolves between 1986 and 1999, Bull scored 306 goals for the club in all competitions, including a staggering 52 in one season (1987/88). However, Bull was only ever selected for England 13 times, scoring 4 goals. The Wolves fanzine is called "A Load Of Bull".

7. Europe. I was mildly surprised to find that Wolves have never won a European competition, but they did reach the final of the inaugural UEFA Cup in 1972, losing over two legs to Tottenham Hotspur. On the way to the final they eliminated Académica, ADO Den Haag, FC Carl Zeiss Jena, Juventus and Ferencvaros. However, their most celebrated match against European opposition was in a friendly in 1954. See number 10 below for more about that game...

8. America. You are probably asking what Wolves have got to do with the United States of America? The most bizarre fact I came across was that the team was exported en masse in the summer of 1967 to play in a new league, the United Soccer Association. Twelve teams from Europe and South America took part, playing their games out of major US and Canadian cities. Wolves became the "Los Angeles Wolves" and won the league title with a championship match victory against "Washington Whips". That's Aberdeen to you and I.

9. Club rivals. Pretty obvious this one. They are West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Birmingham City.

10. That game against Honvéd. If there was ever a "hall of fame" for the most significant, memorable, notable football match in the history of the game, then this one would be in there; Wolverhampton Wanderers v Budapest Honvéd in December 1954. This was one of a series of floodlit friendlies between English and European teams in the fifties. The year before, Hungary had come to Wembley and put on a quality display that shook the world of football, beating England 6-3. This was followed by a 7-1 reverse for England in Hungary. When the Budapest club came to Wolves that December, English football morale was at an all time low, it's pride severely dented. Honvéd fielded five of the players who had shone at Wembley, including the legendary Puskas. Forever remembered as a classic game, 55,000 spectators witnessed a 3-2 victory to Wolves after they had trailed 2-0 after 14 minutes. The game had gripped the country and one headline in the press summed up the mood of the nation - Wolves are "Champions of the World now".

And to finish with, one final FA Cup snippet. The last time Wolves met Cambridge United in the FA Cup was in 1991, coincidentally in the Third Round Proper at Molineux.

Cambridge United won 1-0.

3 comments:

Kareoke Bob said...

Wolves played in the first floodlight game against Glasgow Celtic in 1959. I was there aged 10

Kareoke Bob said...

Forgot to say how much I enjoy reading your site.

by Paul Kirkwood said...

Andy

Thanks for your email back re the stats. I've searched your website for a facility whereby I can email you [as requested] but without joy. Please could you tell me where it resides[sorry if I'm being dense]? Alternatively, my email is paul.jenni@virgin.net

Paul.