Recollections Of Opening Days In History
Anticipation and excitement are at fever pitch as Wolves prepare to return to the Premier League stage tomorrow. We profile six matches here in which the club made their re-entry to the big time in the past.
August 27, 1932: Liverpool 5 Wolves 1 This was a reality check for the young side who had won Division Two under Major Frank Buckley a few months earlier. In front of a 45,000 crowd, they were well beaten despite a consolation effort from right-winger Charlie Phillips, an 18-goal hero of the title-winning campaign. Wolves just beat the drop in 1932-33 – securing 20th position by beating tomorrow’s visitors Everton on the last day.
August 19, 1967: Fulham 1 Wolves 2 Unlike now, the Londoners were established as a top-flight club when they played hosts to Ronnie Allen’s newly-promoted Wanderers, who had won the exhausting US tournament a few weeks before. It was the side’s first competitive return to the capital since their title hopes were destroyed in a 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace. Goals by Mike Bailey and Derek Dougan settled a tight game at Craven Cottage in which Wolves had no debutants. Things were very different then.
August 20, 1977: Bristol City 2 Wolves 3 Martin Patching struck a late winner for Sammy Chung’s team of Second Division champions to round off a helter-skelter afternoon of four penalties in the West Country. Again, there was an absence of new faces in the line-up – one from which fellow Ashton Gate goalscorer Alan Sunderland (Willie Carr netted the other) would depart for Arsenal mid-way through the season. Amid the spot-kick drama, Carr converted one and missed another.
August 27, 1983: Wolves 1 Liverpool 1 This was as good as it got in a nightmare Molineux campaign. The common consensus was that Wolves had over-achieved by finishing as Division Two runners-up under Graham Hawkins in the first post-administration season and chickens came home to roost thereafter – lots of them! Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable afternoon in the sun against the reigning League champions, highlighted by a Geoff Palmer penalty that opened the scoring.
August 16, 2003: Blackburn 5 Wolves 1 It didn’t take Wolves fans long at Ewood Park to realise their side faced an uphill battle for survival after the club’s long wait to reach the Premier League. This was a slaughter, followed up a week later by the concession of four first-half goals at home to Charlton, another side who were by no means among the division’s bigger hitters. Steffen Iversen scored the open-day consolation for Dave Jones’s bedraggled team.
August 15, 2009: Wolves 0 West Ham 2 This was a substantial improvement on six years earlier in terms of performance, albeit still with no points to show for it. Mick McCarthy’s runaway Championship winners toiled hard and were well in the game, only to be sunk by a curling Mark Noble shot and a Matt Upson header in the middle of either half. Wolves nevertheless showed they had plenty about them and underlined the point when they went to Wigan in the midweek and won.
And, finally a word about the only previous occasion on which Wolves have faced tomorrow’s opponents on the opening day. Wolves lost 1-0 at Goodison Park in August, 1957, but didn’t brood on the result. In the next few days, they thrashed Bolton 6-1 and Sunderland 5-0, with Jimmy Murray totalling four goals across the two matches and Norman Deeley three, and were crowned champions the following spring.