Big Day For Bailey
Mike’s Walk Down Memory Lane
Mike Bailey is preparing for a day of double nostalgia tomorrow when he is lined up for an appearance at Wolves’ Premier League game at Brighton.
The ‘special guest’ visit he is due to make to the Amex Stadium with wife Barbara comes with the two teams in good form following midweek victories over London opposition.
And he can be guaranteed a warm welcome on both sides of the divide.
Less known to Wolves fans than his sterling, heroic service over ten years in the West Midlands are the heights to which the inspirational former skipper lifted the ‘other’ Albion as their manager more than three and a half decades ago.
He is still proud of being the man to take the Seagulls to the best finish in their history, 13th in the 1981-82 top flight on the back of a campaign containing memorable wins at Tottenham and Liverpool.
Highlights of their home programme were a 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City and their first ever success over Arsenal.
And, typical of that era, there was a double over Wolves – by the only goal of the night in an early-season game in the Black Country and 2-0 at the Goldstone Ground when relegation was close for the club with whom he had lifted the League Cup eight years earlier.
This was the first season of three points for a win and the Seagulls’ maximum return at Molineux on his only return as a manager elevated them to fifth place and dizzy heights that supporters still talk about.
Bailey nevertheless seemed to gain only partial gratitude from his chairman Mike Bamber and even successes against Arsenal and Manchester United the following season did not save him after a run of four successive defeats in late autumn.
Criticised for overseeing a so-called boring style of football, he left by mutual consent 37 years ago this week – but did he ever get close to becoming Wolves’ manager?
Well, a season and a half after being succeeded by ex-Molineux inside-forward and skipper Jimmy Melia, who promptly took the Sussex club to an FA Cup final and relegation, Bailey met Derek Dougan and Eric Woodward in a John Ireland Stand hospitality box.
But the job went instead to Tommy Docherty and Wolves finished rock bottom of Division Two, 39 points and 16 places behind a Brighton side by then managed by Chris Cattlin.