Pitching In To Combat The Elements

When The Weather Played A Bigger Part

It has frequently been emphasised that one of the biggest differences between today’s football and that of decades past is the relative quality of pitches. 

Wolves and Albion battle it out – for 45 minutes at least – on Boxing Day in 1962-63.

Very rarely do we now see a Premier League playing surface that is anything other than pristine. But the list of games we have compiled below underlines how the under-foot conditions used to be a much bigger factor. 

December 26, 1962 Wolves 2 Albion 0 (match abandoned at half-time): So determined were Albion’s players to have this snow-hit, slip-slide game called off when they were two down that they jumped in the bath at half-time. The referee granted them their wish but the smiles on their faces were wiped off by a 7-0 hammering in the rearranged game in mid-March.

March 1 1965: Wolves 3 Aston Villa 1: Another winter wonderland, with a coloured ball and the need to sweep the lines clear but no complaints from Wolves as they prevail against Villa at the third time of asking in this FA Cup fifth-round tie. Hugh McImoyle’s hat-trick does the trick against one set of Midlands rivals at the home of another, the tie having been switched to The Hawthorns after draws at Villa Park and Molineux. 

January 23, 1971 Derby 2 Wolves 1: No such list would be complete without mention of Derby’s notorious old Baseball Ground pitch and Wolves had the delights of two trips there in a fortnight approaching 50 years ago. We reckon the going was slightly heavier for this FA Cup tie on a mudheap on which Wolves had prevailed by the same scoreline in the League two weekends earlier.

December 11, 1976 Chelsea 3 Wolves 3: Ice-bound Stamford Bridge was declared playable only after inspections but a 36,137 crowd and the following afternoon’s armchair TV audience enjoyed a cracking game between the sides who would occupy the top two places in the final Second Division table. John Richards (2) and Bobby Gould scored for Sammy Chung’s men, who were pegged back by two goals in the final six minutes of a clash played 42 years ago.  

And this was one match-day that didn’t get the go-ahead.

February 13, 1988 Exeter 2 Wolves 4: Quagmire pitches were commonplace at the Football League basement but Graham Turner’s side ploughed a winning path through the St James’s Park mud with goals by Steve Bull (3) and Jon Purdie. Thank goodness the game was given the go-ahead….we had some wasted trips in those days, often ones like this of considerable distance. 

January 3, 1994 Wolves 1 Bolton 0: Robbie Dennison’s first-half goal proved to be the winner on a Molineux quagmire that only just remained playable following heavy downpours.  It gave the side their third successive victory in a run that would be stretched by successive home wins over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and League. 

´╗┐January 13, 2015 Wolves 3 Fulham 3: So weather inconvenience isn’t just a thing of the distant past. Thick snow in the air and on the pitch made Fulham’s white-shirted players hard to spot as they forced penalties in the last minute of extra-time and then won this FA Cup third-round replay in a shoot-out. It was a bizarre end to an evening made much sadder by the announcement several hours earlier of Sir Jack Hayward’s death.

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