What A Turnaround!

Barnwell Was Up For Revolutionary Pitch Plan

Wolves v Leeds in May, 1972. Might another meeting of the clubs eight years later have felt and looked a lot different to this epic clash?

You may initially assume this is a story we intended to publish on the first day of this month rather than one towards the end of it.

But the subject matter is true – or at least we have every reason to believe it is.

In March, 1980, a few days before Wolves’ second League Cup final triumph came the disclosure that the Molineux pitch might be turned around 90 degrees.

No less an authority than manager John Barnwell was quoted in the piece, which went to press some months after the opening of the new stand that would bear the names of John Ireland and much later Steve Bull.

The giant structure had undeniably given the stadium a more imposing look but Wolves officials were concerned at how it might also erode the unique atmosphere that had been generated for decades with the old Molineux Street Stand there instead.

Barnwell was never shy of fuelling a little publicity for the club and this particular item made the back page of the Express & Star for starters.

In it, he stressed there were no plans to permanently switch the pitch and locate the goals for good in front of the new facility and the traditional main Waterloo Road Stand.

But he was open to the idea of trying it for one match at the end of the highly successful 1979-80 season – possibly the visit of Leeds on April 26.

As we now know, nothing came of the idea and Wolves beat Jimmy Adamson’s side 3-1 with the pitch in its usual place.

John Barnwell……open-minded.

But we can look back in these sport-starved times and wonder whether there was any significant chance that Molineux might have undergone a change similar to the one at Bournemouth as part of a major redevelopment.

Might we have had the emergence of a West Bank Choir rather than the North Bank one? Might the tunnel have been relocated in one of two new long side stands?

For those who have never heard of the suggestion, we promise it was neither an April 1 story 40 years ago, nor was it planned as one by us now.

And, when this lockdown is over, we might just be able to prove it.

Thomas Publications