How Scottish Golden Boy Eluded Gold And Black Clutches
Goal Machine Declined Molineux Move
Every so often, we drop into our writing some of the names Wolves chased and missed out on over the years.
David Instone’s new Between the Golden Lines book reveals, for example, how Roberto Martinez was once at the club for a trial and explains how a move for Ian Taylor failed and why a possible Martin O’Neill interest in switching to Molineux came to nothing.
Michel Platini and Alex Ferguson are two others who were famously pursued – the Aberdeen manager was spotted by John Barnwell’s player-coach Ian Ross in the corridor under the old Waterloo Road Stand while down here for talks – and from the same sort of era comes a gold and black link with another huge football name.
It is 37 years today since an 18-year-old Ally McCoist said no to a transfer from St Johnstone to Wolves and opted instead for Sunderland in a £400,000 deal that then amounted to a Roker Park record.
Any disappointment felt in these parts, though, was tempered by the struggles the striker had under the management of Alan Durban on this side of the border after he also caught the eye of Middlesbrough and Tottenham.
Having, ironically, been rejected by Ferguson as a 16-year-old at St Mirren on the grounds of being too small, McCoist started 1981-82 brilliantly and built on his success with Scotland under-18s by scoring home and away for St Johnstone against Celtic.
But his August 25 departure to Wearside was not the start of any success story. He scored only another twice at club level that season and then seven times in the 1982-83 campaign.
One of those latter goals came in Sunderland’s two-leg Milk Cup annihilation of Wolves in the early months of the Graham Hawkins reign but the contribution was one of the last major acts of his time in the north-east.
He didn’t score again after the October and returned to Scotland at the end of the season, joining Rangers for a knockdown £185,000.
Who knows whether McCoist would have fired more convincingly at Wolves and helped the club sidestep some of the problems that crippled them for half of the 1980s?
The fact he scored more than 250 goals for Rangers and won 61 senior caps for Scotland underline that he was certainly a talent worth chasing.