The Rarest Day
Wolves And February 29 – It Barely Happens
European football is not only helping Wolves to make big slices of history. It’s also denying them smaller chunks of it.
One of the curious by-products of a thrilling voyage of discovery that is now set to roll into Greece next month is that Wolves have missed out on playing on a date on which they have gone into action only five times in their history.
We are putting to one side for now the mouth-watering showdown with Olympiacos and are referring instead to domestic matters – namely the clash against Tottenham this weekend at the Premier League’s most spectacular stadium.
Surprisingly, February 29 is almost unchartered territory on the Wolves calendar and remains so with the Spurs game having been switched from today to tomorrow when it became known that Nuno and his men would be on duty in Spain two nights ago.
Only twice in the last 112 years have Wolves played on Leap Year Day – and both were defeats.
They lost 3-1, a third successive defeat as they headed towards a final placing of 16th, when outplayed at Albion in 1963-64 in Stan Cullis’s final full season at the club. A Dick Le Flem goal was no more than a late consolation at The Hawthorns after Albion had opened up a three-goal lead.
Also on a Saturday and amid another tale of a Wolves season tailing off disappointingly, Graham Turner’s side lost 1-0 against Sunderland at Roker Park in 1991-92.
This was a hard-luck story, with TV cameras strongly suggesting that the match-deciding trip by Derek Mountfield on Don Goodman was outside the area rather than inside it. A penalty was nevertheless given and John Byrne bobbled his shot in off the post as Mike Stowell dived the wrong way.
We have to go back to before the First World War for the other cases of Wolves playing on today’s date.
In 1895-96, it was in the quarter-final of the FA Cup and a 3-0 home win over Stoke that is listed in the record books as round three. Billy Malpass, John Tonks and Charlie Henderson – three of the side’s ten Cup ever-presents that season – scored the goals for a side who went on to reach the final before losing 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Crystal Palace.
The Cup again occupied Wolves on this day in 1903-04, with a 1-0 defeat against Derby at Villa ending their interest in a second-round second replay after a brace of 2-2 draws.
Finally, fast-forwarding only slightly…..Wolves beat Lincoln 3-0 in the Second Division on Leap Year Day of 1907-08, with Arthur Lloyd, John Shelton and George Hedley scoring. This was another Cup final season for the club and this time they were victorious in beating Newcastle in the final at Crystal Palace.
*It is 50 years ago yesterday since John Richards made his first-team Wolves debut – in a 3-3 First Division draw at Albion.