Long Breaks Of The Past Were Nothing Like This
In another two or three weeks, the gap between Premier League fixtures played by Wolves will have stretched longer – and more painfully – than the traditional summer break.
It was nine weeks ago yesterday that Nuno and his players signed off at Molineux with the game against Brighton and it’s a sobering thought that today would have been the final day of the top-flight season, with exciting issues to be resolved away from and possibly around Wolves’ visit to Chelsea.
But what about the other arduous breaks the club have endured over the decades during seasons? How long were they?
In checking the record books, we decided to go straight back to the 1946-47 campaign, the first full one after the war, and what is still described as one of the worst winters England has known.
At a time when there was no under-soil heating but football was more willing to suck it up and tolerate treacherous conditions, Wolves didn’t play a League game between January 18 and February 22, although they did fulfil FA Cup matches home and away against Sheffield United.
The outcome of the New Year hold-up was that the huge title showdown between Wolves and Liverpool – Stan Cullis’s final game as a player – was not played until May 31.
The 1962-63 season is the other one which is frequently talked of as having been problematic to the game’s administrators. And this was spectacularly delayed for reasons much more anticipated than the one which has sent the current one into chaos.
Just how severe the weather was then is summed up by the following revelations or reminders:
*Only three of 32 fixtures in the third round of the FA Cup were played on the scheduled date of January 5.
*Only eight League fixtures were played on January 12 and, on January 23, the Pools Panel sat for the first time to forecast the results of postponed matches.
*Only one fixture on the planned Cup fourth-round day, January 26, was played as most third-round ties hadn’t been completed. Wolves’ round-three tie at Nottingham Forest finally went ahead on January 29 and ended in a 4-3 defeat.
*Just five League fixtures were played on Saturday, February 2 and Wolves’ break between Division One games stretched from a home draw with Sheffield United on January 19 to a defeat at Liverpool on February 16.
*On February 4, the FA postponed the fifth and sixth rounds of the Cup for a week and then put them back further just over a week later.
*Accordingly, on February 18, the semi-finals were postponed for four weeks and the final for three weeks.
*It was March 11 before Middlesbrough beat Blackburn to become the last team into the fourth round (yes, the FOURTH round).
But all that mayhem was just the result of a very big freeze and the season was duly completed, with Manchester United triumphant at Wembley and Everton winning the League, with Wolves finishing fifth after playing their final game considerable later than usual on May 13.
This, today, is a different enemy but yesterday’s resumption of the Bundesliga gives hope that play will resume in the top three divisions here….whenever that may be.