Dear Diary Entry 87

All Eyes On The Meadow

Monday, December 3: Quite a coincidence today to be told by a former Shrewsbury chairman, Ray Bailey, that his old club had appointed ex-Wolves skipper Sam Ricketts as their new manager. Many of us at Molineux will wish him only well as he makes the step up from Wrexham……he was an impressive and articulate leader of players here and one of those you want to see carry on doing well.

Sam Ricketts – willl have good will on his side in his new role.

Wednesday, December 5: Wolves 2 Chelsea 1 – what an epic night! And well done to Scott Sellars for predicting to me that Wolves would play much better than they did for most of their recent run of six matches without a win. I bumped into the club’s head of academy player development in a coffee shop a few miles from Molineux this morning and he expressed confidence in the side to go out and produce a greatly improved performance. He was dead right.

Friday, December 7: How nice it was to have had another popular figure from the recent past in our midst this week. Jack Price, who played in the same side as Sam Ricketts on many occasions, returned for the Chelsea game as a break in his new career with Colorado Rapids in America. He was a victim of the club’s Iberian advances, so it is good to see him wanting to stay in touch with what is happening in his absence.

Tuesday, December 11: Can’t wait to have a proper read of the latest issue of Backpass – the wonderful football nostalgia magazine that has been kind enough to publish an extract from my Between the Golden Lines book. Sir Bobby Robson appears on the cover and my eye was drawn to the fabulous centre-page spread which shows a white-shirted Derek Dougan alongside George Best, Tommy Gemmill, Bobby Murdoch, Francis Lee, Jack Charlton and others in a Rest of the UK team. The side were lining up before a game against Wales at Cardiff’s Ninian Park – one staged to mark the investiture of Prince Charles, although it was also in aid of the South Wales town of Aberfan after the school disaster there in 1968. Included elsewhere in the 64 pages of high quality was a piece on Emlyn Hughes’s time as a 1960s Blackpool player.

Saturday, December 15: Just how many former Wolves players can you see in one day? Well, quite a lot, on the evidence of this afternoon’s home victory against Bournemouth. As well as the ‘usual suspects’ in the press box, I bumped into Micky Holmes, Neil Edwards and Jon Purdie at a pre-match London Wolves Christmas gathering in the city centre Grain Store and then reacquainted myself in the stadium with Keith Downing and Fred Davies. A bitterly cold but highly enjoyable afternoon.

Monday, December 17: Was interested to receive an email from an Austrian called Harald Bayley-Riavic, whose father was a British occupation soldier in the province of Styria. Harald arrived in Wolverhampton for the first time in 1951 and (from his first game, against Derby, which he watched from the North Bank), became totally hooked on Wolves. He continues to visit Wolverhampton once a year to visit his mother and other relatives and was at the home game against Watford this autumn.

Friday, December 21: Another sizeable turn-out of players from the past, with Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Carl Ikeme reunited for tonight’s entertaining visit of League leaders Liverpool. Andy Thompson and Mel Eves were with the media contingent as usual and Joleon Lescott was present, as was Mark Walters, the mid-1990s Molineux loan signing who has recently brought out a book about his life and career.

Saturday, December 29: Followed the dramatic Spurs v Wolves events at Wembley as best I could from a seat in the Hawthorns press box, where sightings of one-time Wolves personnel was easy during Albion’s draw with Sheffield Wednesday. Jamie Smith, who has been in the Baggies’ backroom for eight years now, was in the media room for a cuppa before kick-off and the home line-up included Bakary Sako. Taking their places on the Owls’ substitutes’ bench were Steven Fletcher, David Jones and Sam Winnall.

Bakary Sako.