Forty Years Ago Today…..League Cup Glory Part Two

More Recollections From A Big Wembley Day

As today is the 40th anniversary of Wolves’ second League Cup final triumph, we are keeping our promise to take a second look back at the big day. Enjoy our reminder of some of the stories you may have read and forgotten about……

George Berry leaves the Wembley pitch in triumph, with manager John Barnwell at his side.

*There was tragedy amid delight for George Berry in those latter stages of a memorable personal campaign. The central defender was one late-season appearance away from being an ever-present in League and cups in 1979-80 but had the heartbreak of being told the day after Wembley that his father had died on match-day night – news his family kept from him so as to enable him to play in the game against Nottingham Forest first.

*The joyous homecoming Wolves’ players had when they returned to the West Midlands with the silverware was not totally new to manager John Barnwell. He remembered being taken as a boy by his dad to see his local heroes showing off the FA Cup round the Newcastle streets in the 1950s.

*Wolves were a serious force in cup football under Barnwell and Richie Barker. Of 35 games in different competitions across three seasons with the duo in charge, they suffered a mere seven defeats – and one of those (against Swindon in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final) was turned round at Molineux.

*Passengers on the executive train from Wolverhampton to Euston on League Cup final morning were given a precious insight into 19th century Molineux life by Reg Brown. He was 97 in 1980 and was treated to his travel tickets after John Hendley – the much-loved match-day programme editor from the last decade or two – and other Wolves Sporting Club regulars had a whip-round for his rail fare after learning he had a match ticket but no means of getting to London. Emlyn Hughes and John Richards were present to share the good news with Reg.

*When he would rather have been focused purely on working out how to stop Trevor Francis, John Robertson etc, John Barnwell had the irritation of having to address questions linking him with a faraway job. A Sunday paper suggested he was a target for San Jose in America and went as far as to say that there had been talks with or about the Molineux boss – overseen by Milan Mandaric, no less. He was the San Jose owner at the time. Talk of the connection was rubbished by Barnwell.

*Was broken-leg victim John McAlle the 1980 equivalent of Phil Parkes from six years earlier? Maybe. The veteran defender didn’t play again in that latter season after suffering a serious injury in the fifth-round of the FA Cup at home to Watford on February 16 but accepts that he had become a stand-in for skipper Emlyn Hughes and probably wouldn’t have started at Wembley even if fit.

*Boyhood Wolves fanatic Mel Eves had a Wembley shock – of the more pleasant kind. He was quoted in Clive Corbett’s comprehensive 2011 Out Of Darkness publication as saying: “I walked through the doors to the dressing room and the policeman on duty inside just happened to be by mate and best man, Stuart Webb. He worked for the Metropolitan Police and manoeuvred it to get the job (on the day).”

Ron Flowers has a goal disallowed in Wolves’ FA Cup final conquest of Blackburn at Wembley in 1960.

*Six years elapsed between Wolves’ two League Cup triumphs and it was eight seasons after the second of those that the club were back at Wembley for the Sherpa Van Trophy final – a surprisingly short wait given the turmoil in between. More surprising still is that Stan Cullis and his men had to wait a full 11 years between their twin towers trips of 1949 and 1960 that book-ended the Molineux glory years, although clubs only visited the venue in those days for FA Cup finals.

Thomas Publications