United They Stood
Undaunted – Debutants Who Shone Against The Famous Reds
Stewart Ross’s remarkable Wolves first-team introduction was featured at length during the early months of this website nearly three years ago.
But the blooding of the full-time accountant and part-time footballer in a game against reigning League champions Manchester United in December, 1967, is not a total one-off.
The first senior sighting of him, watched by more than 53,000, is one of the many debuts Wolves have given against the opponents the club face at Old Trafford this weekend.
Just going back as far as the Second World War, we can see that Alf Crook, Bill Slater, Eddie Clamp, Peter Russell, Cliff Durandt, Johnny Kirkham, Barry Stobart, Gerry Mannion, Ted Farmer, Chic Brodie, Bob McNab and loanee Andy Blair have all made their bow in gold and black against United.
And the impact has sometimes been instant, none more so than when Farmer was drafted into Stan Cullis’s attack in place of Jimmy Murray in the opening weeks of 1960-61 and responded with two goals in a 3-1 away victory.
Slater’s start with the club came in a 6-2 home thumping of League champions United in October, 1952, while Clamp was chosen for the first time when, in 1954, he lined up in the away fixture against the same opponents a few weeks before Wolves were crowned Division One champions for the first time.
There was curiosity value to the match in which Durandt made his debut in October, 1958, with Wolves experimenting by playing at home on a Saturday night. They won 4-0 and were victorious again at Molineux 12 months later when Kirkham was summoned to do battle against the famous red shirts.
Mannion and Stobart also got off to a winning first-team start when their call-up together in March, 1960, helped bring about a 2-0 away win at Old Trafford but there was no such joy for Bob McNab when United won 2-0 at Molineux on the opening day of 1975-76 as Tommy Docherty’s side celebrated their return to the elite following a year in the Second Division.
Back in the Cullis era, what about Chic Brodie? In February, 1961, he stepped in for shoulder injury victim Malcolm Finlayson, helped Wolves to a 2-1 home win over United and was not seen in the club’s goal ever again.
Introductions against this weekend’s opponents haven’t just been confined to players. The first of Bill McGarry’s games as Molineux boss was a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford in November, 1968.
Our hunch is that Mick McCarthy – and we’re not going anywhere near the subject of his controversial Old Trafford selection two seasons ago – will not be conferring debuts on any of his kids in two days’ time.