What is the role of the Football Fan? And are fans changing?

I’m writing this the day after we lost at home to Bolton in the Premier League, in what appears to be a relegation season. The odds are certainly well stacked against us now, and survival though not mathematically impossible, looks well beyond us.

I’m writing this though to look at the fans, and how in today’s society their approach to the game has changed. Relegation is never easy, and so this is proving this year, but someone has to finish bottom, and it looks like it’s our turn this time, so why then now are so many giving up their season tickets and turning away from the club in many different ways?

Society is all about ‘today’, I want it now, and no time for the future or a patient approach. Many people are no longer content with their lives, always chasing something just out of reach. The Premier League changed football forever, ‘The Greed League’ it could be called as it is all about money and the success of the big clubs. In many ways it is a cheat’s league with too many players being allowed to cheat week in week out. If you disagree, why hasn’t diving been stamped out once and for all years ago, and technology introduced.

Now the fans seem to think the same way, but we don’t have a divine right to be in the Premier League; but fans who have supported the club for many years in the lower leagues, are giving up after another year of struggle. Have they forgotten that only 3 clubs at most can win domestic honours? Have they forgotten that it takes two teams to have a match, and in the case of the Premier League 20 teams to make the division.

Wolves fans always think of themselves as supporting a big club. That rubs off on one another and so when we were trawling through the lower leagues we were the big attraction everywhere we went as we always took a big support. Why?

Well because being a Wolves fan is more than supporting a winning team. If that’s all you want then become another mindless Man U fan, we don’t want you. We want Wolves fans who are just that, Wolves fans. People who will be there at Chorley – as several of us were – or at Carlisle, when under Docherty we hadn’t won for exactly half a season. That is what support is. Not turning up because a team I have an affiliation with happen to be winning a few games or have had a good start to the season.

In considering life back in the Championship many of us have already realised some advantages. More 3pm Saturday kick offs, cheaper prices, less cheats, less greed, more games, hopefully more wins, some great drinking towns and higher league position. Get back our sense of camaraderie, our collective passion and fight, get the hard core back showing unity. This is not being a happy clapper, this is supporting your club.

Arguably we have just had one bad (or not so good year) in five. Not a bad ratio, considering many of us went through 3 successive relegations, now that was tough. But we were still there, still supporting the Wolves – that’s what we do.

My son Simon asked why we had to put up with another heavy defeat the other week, when many were walking out. I replied it’s character building, you can only appreciate the good times and successes properly if you have been through the hard times. Anyone can support a winning team, but a supporter supports his team irrespective of the results, league placing or division.

Walking to the ground yesterday with Rick Pepper, we were talking about the Play Off Final at Cardiff. We scored after 7 or 8 minutes and Rick had started to cry, and he cried right through to halftime because it meant so much. He has stood by Wolves during the 21 years out of the top flight, but he was there to soak up the occasion when it was our turn to get some success.

So relegation as unpleasant as it seems, is not the end; it will sort the men from the boys, hopefully getting rid of the fair weather fans, and moaning old gits along the way. But I expect we shall see who the true Wolves fans are next year, at some cold mid week fixtures when the team aren’t playing well. But when that night comes I shall take a moment and look at my friends and acquaintances and recognise that they like me are Wolves. I for one will be proud to be there. I hope you are too.

Thanks Mick….

So the Mick McCarthy era at Wolves has come to an end.  After five and a half years he has been shown the door at Molineux, in a season where we have barely been in the bottom three, compared to the year before when we spent almost all season in the drop zone.

How the McCarthy years are viewed retrospectively we will only know with the passing of time, a large part of that will depend on whether the club survives in the Premier League; after the 13 remaining games are finished and improves from what he has achieved, or we go down and embark on another period in the lower divisions.

Hopefully once the dust has settled on his dismissal, his tenure will be fondly remembered and appreciated as a major stepping stone in the transformation of Wolves. But for the moment I want to look back over this period not just as a tribute, but in an attempt to tell it as it was from a fans perspective.

Personally speaking I was thrilled when he got the job. Why? Because at the very first Wolves Fans Parliament meeting,  which I was lucky enough to be involved in, I stood up and suggested Mick as our next manager. We had been asked by Jez Moxey who we wanted as the next Manager following Glenn Hoddle’s unforeseen departure, and Mick was the man for me.

I had been impressed by the way while at Sunderland he had got them promoted while they were £33m in debt, and even though he was given no money to spend in the Premier League they were playing good football and he was largely considered unlucky to get the sack from the Stadium of Light.

So the fact that my suggestion had been the one appointed, gave me an affinity with him from that day on. With Richard Skirrow’s support we then got him along to our next Dinner, which he admitted in his blunt Yorkshire style he didn’t want to attend, but he came along and quite enjoyed himself during the evening. He took particular delight in the pea shooters, almost causing one of the waiters to drop a huge pile of plates he was collecting from the tables when he scored a direct hit on the side of his face, causing him to roar with laughter.

On the pitch things were tough. Hoddle had left a squad that was threadbare to say the least. The Premier League parachute payments had run out, Kenny Miller had walked out, and Jo Lescott had been sold. Hoddle had not brought anyone in and we were left with either players that no one else wanted or prospects from the youth team.

One aspect of his management style became apparent early on, and became known as ‘Mick’s favourites’. Over the years several players never seemed to be given a chance in the team when the fans thought that the ones left out were better than those we were watching. The first example of this was Denis Rosa, who had looked worthy of a place during the last few months of Hoddle’s reign, and the first friendly against Villa too. But under Mick he wasn’t given opportunity in the first team for the fans to see if he could do it for Mick.

One early development that started to transformation into Mick’s team from that first friendly game was Karl Henry being given a trial. Having left Stoke on a free he was looking for a club, and Mick put him on the bench for that very first game. Mark Davies got injured very early in the game, Karl came on, and the rest as they say is history…

Jay Bothroyd was an early signing, not what you would call a Mick signing, as he had been around the leagues and always attracting the wrong kind of publicity. With untold levels of skill and ability, but not one to ‘put a shift in’ it was not surprising that he and Mick clashed several times. That said he did score some wonderful goals at Wolves at home to Ipswich and away at Leeds and a crucial goal at home to Albion that secured wins and built confidence that lifted us up the table. Mick had to dabble in the nether reaches of the transfer market and people like Jermal Johnson were brought in, showed great enthusiasm and scored a few goals along the way.

There are lots of examples of little things in that first season which contributed to the overall picture, and that overall picture was a fantastic over achievement and a place in the play offs. Those Play Offs saw Wayne Hennessey drafted into the team unexpectedly after Matt Murray stood on the frame of a goal in training the day before the first leg, and started a run of injuries that would end in his eventual retirement.

There were other blows too, when Mark Davies walked to Bolton rather than stay at Wolves. Mick had given him too limited opportunities in the first team, but he was a talent that arguably was never replaced. On the positive side, there were several good deals that have paid off handsomely. Over the years Michael Kightly, Stephen Ward, Matt Jarvis to name but three have been picked up seemingly from nowhere, and established themselves in the team and their place in Wolves’ history.

Others such as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher have become heroes for a generation of fans for their goal scoring exploits in the Championship and the Premier League respectively.  Many such as Kevin Foley, Stephen Ward, Sam Vokes have become full international for their respective countries under Mick’s stewardship and would be the first to acknowledge the fact, and the influence he had on their careers.

Others were brought in to do a particular job at a particular time, and then moved on again. Some were not popular with the fans but they ‘put a shift in’ and helped move the club forward. I’m thinking here of the likes of Neill Collins, Mickey Gray (who won our POTY) Marlon Harewood, Andy Keogh (another POTY winner) Marcus Hahnemann, Chris Iwelumo, Dave Jones, Gary Breen and many others.

As with any manager as well as the successful signings there have been the flops. Freddy Eastwood was one, Stephen Elliott another, as were Darren Ward, Darren Potter, Michael McIndoe, Eggert Jonnson and dare I say Roger Johnson!

Some players hung around too long some were shipped out too quickly, but that’s football. It is a game of opinions and Mick had his, and it was never always going to be the same as the fans.

In the Championship winning season, Mick really got it right. Open expansive free flowing attacking football was a joy to watch. The passion was shared with players, fans and management alike. That season you saw the best of Wolves as a club as a whole and after so many years of disappointments and crushing defeats under many different regimes it was very welcome.

But then we saw a different side to Mick in the Premier League. This is the area I’d be most critical of him, we were giving too many sides too much respect and rather than trying to win games we were happy far too often to sit back and maybe get a draw or scrape a win. Usually this strategy failed and points were lost.

The Manchester United fiasco was when he nearly lost all the fans for good. Dropping ten of the team after winning at Tottenham the previous weekend did not go down well. Particularly as United had a reserve back four out that night and could have been their for the taking along, with a huge boost to confidence that would have come with an Old Trafford win. But Mick said they were tired, and dropped 10 of them! Ah bless.

I remember well that first season up in the January we played a shockingly poor Liverpool followed 4 days later with a six pointer away at Hull. At home to Liverpool was a classic case of showing them too much respect, they were there for the taking, but we did nothing and walked away with a single point from a 0 – 0 draw.

Then at Hull we were very fortunate to get anything from a game where we didn’t have our first shot on target till there was just 12 minutes to go, although we had previously scored when a cross was deflected into the net for us by a defender. A Jarvis inspired late rally saved the day for us and we got a 2 – 2 draw. But 2 points out of an easy six, was not good enough.

By contrast last season (the second season up) Mick declared that we’d have a right good go at Chelsea at Molineux, and what happened we got a win. Last season he was more positive and results against the big boys were testimony to that. But this season there have been some horrible turgid performances where we have deserved and got nothing. I’m  thinking of Everton away when the only shot on goal was for the penalty we were awarded. There have been other examples of the over cautious approach, but also the opposite when we were magnificent away at Tottenham and should have come home with 3 points.

This showed that we could do it against the better teams, but by and large we weren’t doing it often enough. No consistency in our approach to games or consistency in how well we played.

There have been many great wins in the Premier League where Mick deserves credit too. 2 games against Spurs the first season, away at West Ham, beating Albion last season followed a week later by winning at Sunderland. Also home wins against Manchester City, and United plus Chelsea showed that we could do it, we could compete and we did belong.

But it was that inconsistency that was probably his undoing. Some fans always saw and fed off the positive performances, while others the negative ones. So the Mick out culture was never far away, just bubbling under the surface of many fans.

One thing he didn’t have was luck. How many penalties have we had during his tenure? How many should we have had? How many despicably poor refereeing decisions were we on the end of? Mark Halsey can fill this category on his own! Injuries too have never gone away, yes it’s part and parcel of the game but did we ever have a fully fit squad in the five and a half years?

For all these negative points there are many, many positive ones. He was good for the Football Club, he took us forward, he took us up. He bought some heroes and a few donkeys – Halford anyone? – but the trend was always up. Whether he’d have kept us up we’ll never know. I met him on 6 or 7 occasions and liked him. He is a good manager, he will be again, and I hope in the future to bump into him and have the opportunity to thank him personally for all the things he did for our football club. Hopefully in retrospect of his full five and a half years you do too….

My day at the Wolves Training Ground

Melinda Phillips is a keen and active member of the DDCWWFCSC, and at the Dinner back in January outbid the competition to win a day at the Wolves training ground for two people. Fortunately her brother Roger offered to pay half of the amount pledged so that he could go along too.

All the money raised went to Cancer Research, please see our news section for the total amounts raised, both this year and in total.

Thanks go to Wolves in the form of John Gough and Richard Skirrow for making this happen and also to all the people at the training ground on the day for making it such a memorable experience for Melinda and Roger.

Here is Melinda’s acount of the day and a few photos too……..

As most people know the right time to hold a charity auction is fairly late into the evening’s proceeding’s, which is exactly what happened at the DDCWWFCSCADD held in Daventry on the 16th January, the auction being held near mid-night. The bid was for a day for two at the Compton training ground to see the first team and academy players on the pitch, to meet with Richard Skirrow, the club secretary and Mick McCarthy. The timing of the auction worked, I threw myself into the process wholeheartedly (with some encouragement from the rest of the table) and eventually was successful, with some strong competition from the other end of the table.

Thankfully my brother Roger, who was also there, contributed half and without any prior warning, my bid, now ours, was matched by Kevin Foley and his wife, Luella. The money from the auction went to Cancer Research and the full amount was donated without any administration costs.

Richard spoke to us later in that evening and asked us to e-mail him once he could identify suitable dates, Tuesday the 23rd February was the day selected.

We arrived at the training ground about 11.15 to be met by Richard who escorted us to the training pitches to see the players in action. Although it was great to see the player’s training it was also extremely cold. Richard then took us indoors to see the player’s facilities including the gym, changing rooms, treatment centre, spa bath, plunge pools etc. Whilst we were there we saw Chris Kamara from Sky who was there to film the treatment centre as it is the first centre to be accredited and he was there to try out the equipment in full view of the cameras.

Mick McCarthy came in for a quick photo shoot, and we then went to lunch in the player’s dining room only to be joined by Kevin Foley. Kevin confirmed that he has recovered from the DDCWWFCSCADD, not realising beforehand how immature and out of hand the dinner dance could get. He was happy to answer a multitude of questions and agreed to pose for a photograph outside before we left.

That only leaves me to thank the DDCWWFCSC for a great dinner dance, once again and the club, in particular Richard Skirrow, Kevin Foley and Mick McCarthy, for making it such a memorable day. It was well worth the money.

Melinda Phillips

What Wolves mean to me…..

Prominent DDCWWFCSC member Rod Ireland takes a look into his soul to give us this piece of how he feels about Wolves life and everything……

What Wolves Mean To Me

By Rod Ireland

Like others who have shared their love for our great club here, I have many years of happy memories and favourite times watching the Old Gold and Black.  Seeing Peter Knowles dump Bobby Charlton on his backside, treasured goals like John Richards scoring against QPR in front of the North Bank, Bully’s flick, turn and and shot against Millwall, and Willie Carr’s exquisite curled chip away at Upton Park.

But what Wolves really means to me is summed up by one special match at a very special time in my life.  Early in 1988 I was told I had cancer – a very unusual kind, with three big growths on my heart.  I discovered only later that my friends at work had been told not to expect me back.

Most of us know someone who’s suffered from cancer – well most of you know me, so it must be true!  It may surprise you if I say that I now see it as one of the positive events in my life.  I learned so much about myself, about what’s really precious in life, and about how important it is to maintain self belief and never stop fighting to keep hold of what you want – in my case, my life.

So there I am, at the end of May, with Coxy and other good friends, being literally dragged up the steps of old Wembley Stadium.  I’d had intrusive surgery, followed by my first batches of chemotherapy.  Bald as a coot (what’s changed?), I was as weak as a kitten, and collapsed worn out into my seat.

The significance of what I saw that day has stayed with me ever since.  A sea of gold and black, dominating with colour and noise, where not so many months ago poor Molineux had echoed to the sporadic chants of the faithful few; when the life of the entire club hung in the balance.  There was only going to be one winner that day – Wolves were back, and the future was so full of promise.  How I identified with that feeling, how to capture it in words?  Rebirth, renaissance, renewal – sheer euphoria at what might lie ahead.

The rest you know.  Wolves have climbed back towards the top; sure, just as in life, there have been stumbles.  But more than twenty years on there are so many great memories, those same treasured friends, and so much more ahead.   Just one little side story about Coxy, who recruited me into the DDC way back in ’76.  I’m lying in my Oxford hospital bed, feeling rotten.  Enter Mr Cox.  No grapes or flowers.  “Coming out for a pint?”  Having sweet-talked the nurses into agreement, I get dressed and he takes me down the Victoria Arms on the banks of the Cherwell for several pints of 6X.  Best tonic I could get.  Pure Coxy.  Thanks, mate.

What Wolves Mean to Me…


By David Instone (Creator of www.wolvesheroes.com and author of Billy & Bully)

Charles Ross once wrote, during my 16 years of following Wolves home and away for the Express & Star, that some fans thought I had the best job in the world. He reckoned I had the worst.

In reviewing one of my books (that’s another pint I still owe him!), he made the point that his own emotions and passions would never allow him to produce considered copy during a game or soon after the end of one and he’d hate having to try.

My own view is that I had one of the best jobs in Wolverhampton at least, if not one of the best-paid.

I didn’t grow up a Wolves fan, though I always had a bit of a draw towards them in the early 1970s, when my banter-filled loathing was reserved for the likes of Villa, Man United and Stoke – the teams my closest school mates supported.

Maybe it was those shirts or that goal-filled run to the UEFA Cup final that carried some appeal, or perhaps it was being lucky enough to be at Molineux for THAT game against Leeds in 1972 and at Wembley for the 1974 League Cup final. But I never had a problem with seeing Wolves do well. On the quiet, I actually quite liked them.

Even so, my heart was hardly pumping when I stumbled into the role of following them all over the country, and beyond, from the Easter of 1986.

At the time, I was quite happy covering an entertaining Walsall side on their Third Division travels – certainly a lot happier than Alan Buckley seemed at having me on board – and it didn’t appear such a step-up to be given the Wolves ‘gig’, at least not in terms of job security.

More front-page stories were written about the club than back-page ones in those days and I recall turning up for a pre-season friendly at Southport in 1986 – I’d been covering golf down the road at Birkdale all day – not knowing whether a winding-up order had been issued in the High Court that afternoon and the team coach turned back at Knutsford as a consequence.

Watching a patched-up side in a decaying Molineux was a shock to the system after cosy Fellows Park and I question the ‘We were always too big to go under’ stance some supporters now take because that’s not my memory of the mood of the time.

Anyway, some bloke called Bull arrived and, even during the months prior to the two successive promotions, reporting Wolves’ games and fortunes quickly became fun.

As quickly as fans had deserted the club, they flooded back, high-spirited and hopeful just like Graham Turner’s team, and I felt lucky to be the man in place to describe the rebirth; the giant stirs!

Thank goodness we had no idea how difficult subsequent promotions would be but, with regained respectability, came Sir Jack Hayward, a rebuilt stadium and a club to be proud of once more.

Reporters do ‘root’ for the sides they follow, honest! It might not always appear so but why wouldn’t it be more rewarding, more entertaining and downright easier to be describing and discussing victories than a trail of defeats?

It was about the autumn of 1987, this side of those nightmare crowd disorder stories, that I’d say the first serious traces of gold and black dripped into my bloodstream.

I was present at the inaugural meeting of the club’s Former Players Association and to meet Billy and Bert, Johnny Hancocks, Peter Broadbent and Ron Flowers was to learn that this place was actually a bit special.

Did that game against Honved mean THAT much? Could Stan Cullis really be as dedicated as that to the Wolves cause? And what did it feel like to be looking down on Manchester United in the 1950s?

Okay, I’ve derived a decent living in post-E&S years from various Molineux nostalgia projects but I’ve thrown myself into them because the story needs telling for the sake of current and future generations; in some cases for the reading of the grandkids of Wright, Flowers, Williams, Slater et al.

I’m proud of those League titles, FA Cup triumphs and floodlit spectaculars, even though I didn’t see a ball kicked in any of them. All that tradition, pride, appeal and fame is a heady mix!

Wolverhampton Wanderers now means much more than just pounds, shillings and pence to me.  

What Wolves Mean to Me….

Editor of a Load of Bull Charles Ross has penned us a piece following on in this theme, his piece as the others in this series are, is a very unique piece from his perspective, going in unexpected directions…..

The Beautiful Game?

Charles Ross

I have always loved my cricket.

Loved playing it, loved watching it, loved everything about it. Right since I was a kid. And when I think now about my cricketing allegiances, I realise that the primary one is, and always was, to the game itself.

As a kid, it was outings to Old Trafford that were special. They were full of household names in the 1970’s. No, not that Old Trafford (what were you thinking?!), but the one down the road, the home of Lancashire CCC. I learned early in life that a red rose is something special. As a Shropshire lad, I would also occasional get to go to Edgbaston, although this would primarily be to watch Test cricket. Watching Lillee and Thompson in their pomp terrorise the English batting line up on a wet pitch there was one of those moments that just stays with you forever.

In later years, as an adult, it was to Birmingham I moved and I have remained a county member since. I don’t get to see that much of Warwickshire most years, but I regard my membership sub as a tax worth paying for a game I love. And, of course, it ensures I can get tickets for the Edgbaston Test. Now, this has produced some really special moments. And I count myself privileged to have seen, at close quarters, some of the game’s greats. Watching the first ball of a Test, a bouncer from Ambrose to Atherton, rear off the pitch and go first bounce into the ropes; I saw the reaction of the two players. The game ended before lunch on the third day.

I count myself privileged to have seen the great Sachin Tendulkar make a flawless century; a fabulous innings from the greatest batsmen of the modern era. He went to his century with a shot which simply defied belief. I was, I would like to think, one of the first out of my seat to applaud the “little Master”. As I did the likes of Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. Even – especially – Shane Warne. I passed him at the Test there last summer and just stopped, quite genuinely, to thank him for all he had done for the game and for the memories he had given me.

Of course, I always turn up wanting England to win, and have revelled in some heroic performances from our own. That 2005 game with England winning by 2 runs and a monumental performance from Mr Flintoff; all those rainy days, all those draws, all those defeats were in their way part of what made this such a special Test to be at.

Why on earth am I writing about cricket? Perhaps because it is the depth of winter and the smell of fresh grass in April and the start of a new season seems an eternity away.  But it’s more because, with cricket, it is the game I love. Its values, its history, everything about it which makes it a thread in my life I cherish. I can recognise, appreciate and applaud greatness when I see it.

And, when it comes to cricket, my allegiance lies more with England than with any one county side. It is the national team which matters most. But above and beyond even that, it is cricket itself I love. That is why, much though I may prefer England to win, I can stand and applaud an Australian.

As a kid, I loved football. I would get taken to the occasional game at different grounds. But it was a visit to a snowy Molineux on Boxing Day 1970 that the love affair with Wolves began. A 2-0 win over Everton courtesy some lanky guy wearing the number 10 shirt. There could never be another team for me.

I’m not that bothered about England. I was lucky enough to be taken to Wembley as a kid, but it never hooked me the same way that seeing the world’s great cricketers did. I got taken once to the other Old Trafford and saw Best, Charlton and co. I knew I was seeing some of the legends of the game and, as a one-off trip, it was great. But I only went in the first place because we were staying down the road in April for the cricket.

When it comes to football, the club versus country debate never exists. It’s Wolves. End of. And as for the game, I hate so much about professional football these days and what it has become. I often feel I could – would like to, even – simply walk away from the game. But the old gold shirt still stirs something inside me. Like many love affairs, it has had its lows, and not all of them results related. Call me unsporting, but I can never bring myself to applaud an opposition goal. It’s totally different to cricket. Every goal conceded, every defeat does something to me. It’s personal. 

I sometimes wonder how I would feel about Wolves and football if I hadn’t wasted so much time over so many years producing a fanzine. I can’t even understand why I have done it. Perhaps that tells you all you need to know about what Wolves means to me.

What Wolves (and the DDCWWFCSC) mean to me…

Phil Harris is a life long Wolves fan of Welsh descent, and long time member of the DDCWWFCSC here is his sentimental view of Wolves and us…..

Prior to 1975 I was a “lone Wolf” – attending matches at Molineux on my own – travelling up to Wolverhampton High Level Station by train from Machynlleth in Mid-Wales – or sometimes by car with a Mr.John Kealing – a Wolves Season Ticket Holder – who lived in nearby Aberdovey.

I used to stand in the Waterloo Road Stand initially – when aged 14, 15, 16 & 17 but then I “plucked up courage” & went to stand in the “North Bank” – with the “real hard core” supporters.

It was there that I noticed an “Ozzy Osborne” look-a-like – who used to fill in a note book at the end of every match – preceded by a roaring utterance: “Votes!! Can I have your votes, please?” – to which a number of people in the area would respond with answers like “Richards” or “Dougan” or “Kindon” etc. (Does anyone remember Kindon? He’d hit 50 yard passes to himself!!)

Then one day – we were away to WBA – and I went to this match as well – travelling up from Mid-Wales – without a match ticket. To my surprise (naive) it was not possible to buy a ticket on the day – so I was wandering around looking for someone to sell me a ticket – when I espied the “Ozzy” look-a-like!

I approached him cautiously – because you had to be careful at football matches in those days – and enquired if he had a spare ticket? He did – and he asked me if I attended matches often? I told him I did – and how I often saw him in the “North Bank” – collecting “Votes” at the end of each game.

“You’ll have to join our club then, the DDCWWFCSC!”, exclaimed “Ozzy” – who I later learnt was “Chris Cox” – AKA “Coxy” – and so I did!

I joined the DDCWWFCSC – at WBA (shit) – in 1975 – and the rest is history!

And it has been a very pleasant history indeed!

Through the DDCWWFCSC I came to know many of the others who stood at that part of the North Bank in the 1975/1976 season and onwards.

For example, to name but a few, a rather tall, “Robert Plant (of Led Zep) look-a-like” – known as “Light House” – or “House” for short! (Robert Clarke.)

A scraggy lean featured chap from Leamington Spa – known as “Scarecrow”. (Ian Jennings.) Simon “Clough” Yates; Steve Yardley; Darren; Rod Ireland; etc, etc.

And “Trish”, from Flore – near Northampton.

I was doing my A-levels that year – and not very well – so a bit like Wolves I had a bad season in 1975/1976. Wolves being relegated to Division 2, and me being “relegated” from having a University Place at Leicester – chosen because it was in the Midlands – to a HND place at the Polytechnic of Wales in Pontypridd.

The following year was a successful one – and I followed the Wolves avidly – even though I was based in Pontypridd. I was a “poor impoverished student” so I didn’t have a car – so I used to hitch-hike to matches – heading down the A470 to Cardiff to start the trips – then along the M4 – to the A449 – then up the M50 – to the M5 and onwards into Wolves – via Dudley.

It was OK getting to matches on a Saturday afternoon – but hitch-hiking BACK after a match was hopeless – so I would often end up staying the night at the home of “Lighthouse”. Rob would give up his bed for me – and I later learnt that his Mum, Molly, since deceased, used to give up her Sunday Dinner to see me well fed before I hitch hiked back to Pontypridd on the ensuing Sunday in daylight.

We had a good season that year – finishing as Champions when we secured a 1-1 draw at home against Chelsea – who thus themselves finished 2nd – in what was match 41 of 42 for us both – thus the penultimate match of the season.

It was a nice parallel when we went to Barnsley (Away) in our penultimate match 45 of the 2008/2009 season and became Champions with a 1-1 draw – before adding another 1-0 win in match 46 – at Home to Doncaster Rovers.

After getting my HND in Computer Studies 1978-79 I had to decide where to get work – and being a Wolves Fan – I plumped for the Midlands – and ended up getting a job in Coventry, with GEC Telecomms.

Suddenly, attending Wolves matches was easy! With a West Midlands Passenger Travelling Executive (WMPTE) Card you could travel anywhere in the region – and Coventry was at one end of the West Midlands – and Wolves the other!

Being a member of the DDCWWFCSC meant I actually got to go to all sorts of matches easily, and I even got to drink in the DDC itself – and meet the owner – Mr.Birch, his wife Paula, and her “special friend” Tiffy Lodge!

Our successful run in the League Cup of 1979/1980 saw me going to our Away matches at QPR, Grimsby (A Replay) and Swindon Town (Semi-Final 2nd Leg), and of course the Final itself at Wembley in 1980 against the current European Champions, Nottingham Forest – which we won 1-0 – thanks to a goal by a certain Andy Gray, now famous for his SKY Sports TV Commentary.

For the Swindon Town Away Trip – Scarecrow & Lighthouse found it hilarious that I woke someone up to ask them if they were going to eat their sandwiches, but I could tell the person wasn’t, so thought I could give them a good home.

Every year there would be a DDCWWFCSCAD (DDCWWFCSC Annual Dinner) – and these events were often attended by the players as well!

Thus a “lone Wolf” from Mid-Wales found himself able to meet, talk with, and even have a photograph taken with John Richards & Ken Hibbitt, or Willie Carr.

At some of the more special DDCWWFCSCADs – there were guests like Steve Bull, Sir Jack Hayward, and still the old stalwarts – John Richards & Willie Carr.

On one occasion I was sat next to a Wolves Ex-Manager, Bill McGary – now in his dotage – and looking a little frail – so I asked him: “Are you sure you can eat all those potatoes?” – which was at the time – and has been ever since – a source of great merriment & ridicule to my DDCWWFCSC chums!

What Wolves mean to me…

Clive is a member of the DDCWWFCSC, author of the Wolves book ‘Those were the Days’ and a Headmaster of a school in Worcestershire. In his words this is…….

What Wolves mean to me…

Saturday, 18th April 2009 was of course the day that Wolves overcame Queens Park Rangers to secure promotion back to the Premier League. Important and exhilarating though this result was, that day was exactly a year since my mother died and that synchronicity reminded me why Wolves mean so much to me.

Mom and dad, both sadly now passed away, are the reasons why Wolves mean so much to me. It is a family thing where my love for the club is inextricably linked with precious family memories. It is through Wolves matches that I remember certain dates and events. I am reminded of the things outlined below and much, much more:

  • Dad’s scrapbook as a sixteen year old of the glorious 1949 F A Cup winning campaign, with its yellowing press cuttings that chart the route to Wembley;
  • Mom and dad spending much of their courting time on the train between Brierley Hill and Low Level stations and on the South Bank in the glory years of the fifties;
  • March 20th 1965 and my first Wolves match, watching from the Molineux Street stand in a fog of pipe tobacco and the sounds of John Philip Souser marches. Although Andy Beattie’s team overcame Stoke 3-1, we were ultimately relegated;
  • Memories of the 1966-67 promotion season, parking up in Oaks Crescent and frequenting a little café in Chapel Ash before the match.
  • Being raised up behind one of the South Bank’s great concrete exits on dad’s home made wooden box. I saw the home debut of a hero as the Doog scored a hat trick against Hull City on 25th March 1967;
  • Arguing in the car with my sister on the way to my first Wolves away game. It was at Hillsborough on 30th September 1967 as we secured a 2-2 draw on the birthdays of Alun Evans and Peter Knowles;
  • Boxing Day 1970 and a 2-0 Doog inspired win over reigning champions Everton in the snow. We kept warm on the South Bank sharing coffee that was heavily laden with whisky with the local police.
  • March 2nd 1974 and the joy of a trophy at last. Not only were mom and dad there, but also my granddad (a spectator in 1949 and 1960), almost unable to believe that we were back in the big time;
  • The heartbreak of relegation at the hands of Liverpool in May 1977, but me and a group of university mates being consoled and put up for the night by mom and dad;
  • Despair at the almost incomprehensible decline of the mid-eighties and the joy of the Bully led renaissance. A time that coincided with marriage and the birth of our two children;
  • In turn having the opportunity to introduce my own children to the Wolves and the joy of continuing the family tradition;
  • Having to say goodbye to mom and dad just as things at Molineux were beginning to look up – truly out of darkness..

These are just some examples of what Wolves mean to me.

What Wolves mean to me…

John Richards writes….johnrichards[1]

Interesting challenge from the chairman – just do a piece about ‘what Wolves means to me’, that should be easy enough.

My first attempt was all about when I first came to Wolves, but it was becoming a familiar and much repeated story of my time at Molineux, so I scrapped that approach, and thought about it a bit more personally. 

my involvement with Wolves, has given me some genuine friendships which will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Great times, great pals, adventures, hilarious coach journeys, going on a plane for the first time, visiting undreamed of places, the thrill of preparing for a match. In a nutshell, it means memories that no amount of money could buy.

Great times, you might be surprised to learn, are not match related, but are all about the camaraderie within the dressing room, the banter, the characters, getting to know people on tours – people such as John Ireland (my first chairman at Wolves) who ‘fathered’ the players like they were his own sons; the entertainers such as Hughie Curran and Doog, who could both warble a more than passable song; the comedians such as Steve Kindon and Steve Daley (hardly surprising that both are now top rated after dinner speakers); and the rogues (who will remain unnamed) who did their best, not always intentionally, to disrupt the dynamics of the team and the dressing room.

I count myself fortunate that I was in era when a successful team was based on a core of players who stayed with the club for a decent length of time. There was enough time to build genuine friendships. Of the team in the early seventies, I would say that probably seven or eight of them stayed with the club for ten years or more. And I know Wolves wasn’t unique in that respect, it was the norm at other clubs as well. I don’t know what today’s statistics are, but I can’t believe that any team has that number of players staying together for five years never mind ten.

Football, and mainly as a result of my involvement with Wolves, has given me some genuine friendships which will remain with me for the rest of my life. Some of the friends still live locally, but there are others who live in various parts of the country. Even though we may not see each other on a regular basis, these are people who I know would drop everything to be here if I ever needed any help. I count myself very fortunate to be in such a position.

Coach journeys to and from away games were always great fun with Sid Kipping as our unforgettable driver. Big and mischievous, he achieved legendary status by trapping Bill McGarry’s head in the automatic closing door and by driving over his suitcase as we embarked on an overseas trip. At mealtimes it was easy to convince the hotel staff that the immaculately attired Sid was the club chairman. As such, they made a fuss of him and he got served ahead of everyone else – he made a token effort to deny his position, but gladly accepted the attention he was given – he was a gem.

Zambia was the destination for the youth team tour in 1970 – my first time on a plane, my first trip to a foreign country and my first visit to a different continent. I was 19 – my youngest granddaughter, who is two, has already passed those milestones! The trip was a real eye-opener. We stayed with families, ex-pats working in the copper industry and, other than when we went to training and matches, that’s where we were advised to remain, for our own safety. We played against lads in bare feet who could kick the ball harder than most of us and, in the shanty towns surrounding the prosperous areas, I saw a level of poverty I could never have imagined. Difficult though it was, for many reasons, I would say it was the most memorable of all my trips abroad.

Of course, there were many more trips to follow, to some fantastic places and even to countries which were, at the time, restricted. East Germany stood out, our UEFA Cup game against Carl Zeiss of Jena. After going through the checkpoint between West and East Berlin, we were suddenly in a world where there seemed to be almost as many gun-carrying police as there were normal citizens. I can’t say I ever felt frightened in any way, but it was strange to have armed officers stationed around the pitch during the game.

Coxy and JR

I could carry on – there are so many things that have happened to me or that I have been involved in as a result of my signing for Wolves. The club has been a determining factor in my life for the last forty years.

So, what does Wolves mean to me? Memories – millions of them.