A Huge Gulf In Wolves Game Time
Identifying the most experienced side Wolverhampton Wanderers have ever fielded is a task we will put off for another day.
But the rapidly changing face of teams in the modern age, not least at Molineux, prompted us to look at the 2017 Wolves and see how they compare statistically with their counterparts from 1957, 1977 and 1987. The results are quite astounding.
We scoured the line-ups Stan Cullis chose 60 years ago and homed in specifically on the 0-0 draw at Arsenal on March 23, 1957. After each player’s name below is the number of competitive games he played for Wolves and his place in the club’s all-time list of appearance makers (if in the top 80).
Bert WILLIAMS 420 (14), Eddie STUART 322 (30), Gerry HARRIS 270 (41), Eddie CLAMP 241 (50), Billy WRIGHT 541 (4), Ron FLOWERS 512 (5), Norman DEELEY 237 (=52), Jimmy MURRAY 299 (35), Dennis WILSHAW 219 (65), Peter BROADBENT 497 (7), Jimmy MULLEN 486 (10).
That brings a total across the side of 4,044 games, at a remarkable average of 367 Wolves appearances per man.
But even that figure is eclipsed by the team Sammy Chung sent into action in a 2-1 home win over Hull on March 26, 1977: Gary PIERCE 111, Geoff PALMER 496 (8), Derek PARKIN 609 (1), Steve DALEY 244 (46), Frank MUNRO 371 (20), John McALLE 509 (6), Kenny HIBBITT 574 (2), John RICHARDS 487 (9), Alan SUNDERLAND (189), Steve KINDON (167), Willie CARR 289 (=37). They amassed a combined tally of 4,055 Wolves games, averaging out at 368 matches each.
Jumping forward another ten years, the picture is less spectacular but five of the men Graham Turner selected for the 3-0 home victory over Tranmere on October 17, 1987 are still in the club’s top 60 appearance makers: Mark KENDALL 177, Gary BELLAMY 164, Andy THOMPSON 451 (11), Floyd STREETE 194, Alistair ROBERTSON 136, Phil ROBINSON 90, Robbie DENNISON 353 (22), Nigel VAUGHAN 118, Steve BULL 561 (3), Andy Mutch 338 (=25), Keith DOWNING 228 (60).
Dividing that overall total of games (2,810) by 11, we come to an average of 255 per man.
Finally, we come to the clash with Cardiff on Saturday and the other end of the scale: John RUDDY 4, Roderick MIRANDA 4, Conor COADY 88, Willy BOLY 5, Matt DOHERTY 164, Romain SEISS 30, Ruben NEVES 4, Barry DOUGLAS 4, Bright ENOBAKHARE 28, Diogo JOTA 5, Leo BONATINI 5. Total games: 341. Average games per man: 31 (thanks Conor and Matt!).
The figures in the former teams, of course, are those achieved over entire Wolves careers and we trust that many of the current squad are successful enough here to ensure their stays are long ones. And the picture wouldn’t have been so graphic had, say, Carl Ikeme, Danny Batth and David Edwards been in the weekend 11.
But the players on duty at kick-off will have to play around 200 more Wolves games apiece even to reach the experience levels of the 1987 side.
That fact underlines that there are some vast differences – and the 1977 line-up would have been much more experienced still if Phil Parkes and Mike Bailey had been in it.