First-day Facts Which Were Stranger Than Fiction
Oddities From Season Openings Past
It should be a time for unbridled excitement, anticipation at fever pitch and just counting off the days……
But, as the appalling riots cast a dark shadow over the start of the Premier League season – and all other forms of civilised English life for that matter – we look at ten other opening days to a Wolves campaign that have been marked by highly unusual circumstances.
1. Wolves 2 Arsenal 2 (1939-40): The ultimate obstacle to League football lay just round the corner 72 Augusts ago. War was soon declared and this match, as well as follow-up games at Grimsby and Blackpool, was subsequently declared null and void.
2. Everton 1 Wolves 0 (1957-58): It’s not so much the scoreline from this stumble that catches the eye – it’s Wolves’ response to it. Stan Cullis’s side bounced back over the following seven days by thumping Bolton 6-1 and Sunderland 5-0 and going on to lift the title.
3. Sheffield United 2 Wolves 1 (1961-62): Quirky as well as damaging….Wolves’ season started with defeat at Bramall Lane and ended with defeat at Hillsborough. The first half of their League programme finished at home to Sheffield Wednesday and the second half of their campaign kicked off against Sheffield United.
4. Wolves 3 Norwich 1 (1973-74): It wasn’t only against Bournemouth in 1957 that one of the Molineux goal posts broke. A back-pedalling Kevin Keelan, unsuccessfully trying to keep out a Derek Dougan lob, had the same effect in front of a disbelieving North Bank 16 years later.
5. Bristol City 2 Wolves 3 (1977-78): Four penalties were awarded in this dramatic curtain-raiser – Wolves’ first game back in the top flight. Bristol scored from their two and Willie Carr converted one and fluffed one for Wolves, although Alan Sunderland netted the rebound.
6. Wolves P Liverpool P (1979-80): John Barnwell’s side didn’t even make it under starter’s orders in their second League Cup winning campaign. Molineux, in particular the towering new John Ireland Stand, wasn’t ready, so the first-day clash with Liverpool was postponed.
7. Brentford 2 Wolves 1 (1985-86): Being in the Third Division for the first time since 1924 was bad enough. Losing to a late goal for ten-man opponents made it even more painful for Wolves’ five debutants, Nicky Clarke, Johnny Morrissey, Jon Purdie, scorer Neil Edwards and substitute Steve Stoutt.
8. Scarborough 2 Wolves 2 (1987-88): Wolves had serial rioters of their own during the weekend Scarborough should have been relishing their graduation as a Football League club. It was horrible to witness, even for as controversial a boss as the home side’s Neil Warnock.
9. Wolves 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1 (2000-01): Wednesday keeper Kevin Pressman made history by lasting all of 13 seconds before being sent off for handling outside his area. Still, though, Wolves couldn’t win despite an opening goal from debutant Temuri Ketsbaia.
10. Plymouth 1 Wolves 1 (2006-07): Six Wolves players made League debuts for the club – and the unfamiliarity cut even deeper with Mick McCarthy’s formidable presence in the dug-out for the first time. It underlined the feeling he didn’t have much to work with that Wolves needed an own goal to salvage a point.