Epic Journey Breaking New Ground
Might it take only a few months for several Wolves players to achieve across the continent what some of their illustrious predecessors needed several seasons to accomplish?
Consider these figures: Peter Broadbent 11, Mike Bailey 10, Alan Sunderland 9, Ron Flowers 8, Geoff Palmer 6, Steve Daley 6….they aren’t shirt numbers but total appearances for Wolves in major European competition.
Now look at these after the thrilling draw in Portugal tonight: Conor Coady 11, Leander Dendoncker 11, Raul Jimenez 11, Joao Moutinho 11, Rui Patricio 10, Adama Traore 10.
Already, several members of Nuno’s glittering 2019 crop have gone past various heroes from the 1950s and 1970s in Euro outings.
And who knows where it will end given that Wolves have now secured the point they needed to ensure themselves a place in the Europa League knock-out stages?
It has already been reported that the 2017-18 Championship winners will play an astonishing 23 games in this competition if they should go all the way to the final in Gdansk in May.
But it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that, even if they just go a stage or two further in this first European campaign for 39 years, the backbone members of the side could still have Euro appearance totals for the club in the mid-teens.
And that sort of progress, for those of us with a statistical interest, brings into focus the individual benchmark figures established in decades past.
Over and above the present-day squad, Norman Deeley played 12 times for Wolves in Europe, Dave Wagstaffe, John Richards and Jim McCalliog 14 each, Derek Parkin 15 and Phil Parkes 16.
But four men have traded blows with the continent’s big-hitters even more than that.
Kenny Hibbitt and Frank Munro have 17 appearances each against their names and Derek Dougan and John McAlle are one match higher still on 18.
Dougan overtook Broadbent in the early 1970s as Wolves’ top European scorer but the tag he has held for four and a half decades ago has tonight come under even more threat from the in-form Jimenez.