Duo’s Night With The Vikings

A ‘Smorgasbord’ Of Molineux Memories

All roads lead to Wolverhampton - even from across the North Sea.

Debut-day memories and long Scandinavian nights were on the agenda when Phil Parkes and Geoff Palmer were invited along as part of the latest Viking ‘invasion’ of Wolverhampton.

For several seasons, the two local lads were next to each other on the Wolves team sheet, compiling an astonishing 878 competitive first-team games for the club between them.

And they were side by side again on Friday night as the Norwegian-based Viking Wolves Supporters Club descended on the West Midlands for a weekend centred round yesterday’s Premier League draw with Swansea.

Parkes and Palmer conducted an hour-long question-and-answer session after dining with the 35-strong group in Sir Jack’s – the restaurant that overlooks the pitch at Molineux. They were then presented with guide books that their hosts hope might tempt them back to the land of fjords and the midnight sun.

Both toured Norway more than once in the 1970s and Lofty remembered: “It wasn’t a place where you could afford to get drunk. The beer was very expensive.”

Before taking the microphone, Palmer recalled a scary internal flight on an old plane that resulted in some ashen faces. Long coach journeys are another part of life on tour in Scandinavia that tends to stick with players.

The Cannock-born full-back named long-legged former Coventry and Manchester City winger Tommy Hutchison – later a team-mate of his at Burnley – as his most awkward opponent while Parkes harked back to his League debut for Wolves when asked whether any strikers had filled him with particular fear.

“I could generally look after myself but remember something Ron Flowers said before we played Preston here in 1966. Ron said I would be killed if I tangled with Alex Dawson, the old Manchester United player. That sent my confidence through my boots!

“Alex did clatter me a couple of times, then I thought I’d better stand up for myself, so I went up for a ball and caught him hard at the same time. He looked at me and said: ‘Steady on, my career’s nearly over.’ I said: ‘It will be even sooner if you carry on like that.'”

Palmer’s entry into first-team came in a victory at Arsenal in a long-dispensed annual fixture – the play-off for third and fourth places in the 1972-73 FA Cup.

But he better recalls a summons a few weeks later for the victory at Halifax that launched the club’s first victorious League Cup journey.

“Bill McGarry pulled me in training and said: ‘I’ve heard from the reserve team coach that you were crap on Saturday. But I’m going against his better judgment….you’re playing tomorrow night.’ I must have done something right. I was a regular in the side before long.”

Geoff Palmer (right) with Viking Wolves' Svein Solberg.

Wolves won 3-0 at The Shay and Palmer was still only 19 when he lined up the following March against this week’s Molineux visitors Manchester City for the first of his two memorable League Cup final appearances.

Viking Wolves members were delighted to learn that Mick McCarthy’s squad were staying overnight at their city centre hotel before the Swansea game. At Molineux, they then bumped into Steve Bull, who was on eve-of-match corporate duty at the stadium.

The visitors and their guests stood for a minute’s silence in memory of Frank Munro during the dinner.