Anniversary Day For Goal Machine
Slaying Of Scots Crowned Unmatchable Seasons
What would the sports scientists make of such a workload now? In hindsight, it’s a wonder Steve Bull was able to drag himself north of the border at all to wreak havoc on Scotland’s defenders.
Just look at the facts….Wolves’ record goalscorer (as he was to become a few years later) played 59 club games in 1987-88 and a mere 55 in 1988-89.
Tony Matthews’ Complete Record from 1989 shows that Bully made all those appearances in the starting line-up and was replaced during games only three times across those two title-winning, record-breaking seasons, each of those in the Fourth Division campaign.
Fast-forwarding three decades, we can remind ourselves that captain Conor Coady has just led the Molineux appearance charts in 2018-19 with 46 games.
Matt Doherty has come a close second with 45, four of which were from the substitutes’ bench and, if we are looking at the players in Bully’s position, Raul Jimenez has played 44 Wolves matches (four from the bench) and Diogo Jota 37 (five as a sub).
When we think that Jimenez and Jota have been withdrawn during games well over 40 times between them this term, we realise that, in these days of seven named substitutes, there is the potential for rest and recovery that Bully rarely had – and probably never wanted.
Thank goodness he was sent off a couple of times along the way in the lower-division era – at least that time in the changing room and then out suspended allowed him to put his feet up very occasionally!
And then, in the second of his consecutive seasons of scoring 50 goals or more, came an extra workload via his England duty.
During and after Wolves’ march to the Third Division title, Bully played three games for England under-21s, three more away on tour for England B and climaxed his arrival on the international stage by playing and scoring in the seniors’ victory away to Scotland 30 years ago this afternoon.
Yes, he was 24 then and he’s 54 now. But his magnificent rise and deeds – continued with a sub outing away to Denmark early in June, 1989 – seem as extraordinary today as they did all those years ago.
And, no matter how high the modern Wolves should climb in their wonderful journey under Nuno and Fosun, those figures are something that surely will never be repeated.