Ever-Present Heroes From Across The Decades
Billy Wright never managed it, nor Stan Cullis. Steve Bull neither.
But proud Scouser Conor Coady is by no means walking alone as the holder of an ever-present Wolves appearance record.
The inspirational skipper has accomplished the extraordinary present-day feat of playing in every minute of a club’s Premier League season by again being on the pitch from first whistle to last at Chelsea yesterday.
And that achievement has had us scurrying through the pages of history for some precedents and comparisons.
We remain aware that Rui Patricio has done likewise in the 2019-20 League campaign but a look through the Wolves Complete Record books reminds us that it is more common for goalkeepers to do so.
Mike Stowell, in fact, the man who has played more games in Wolves’ goal than anyone else, was an ever-present on no fewer than four occasions – 1991-92, 1993-94, 1996-97 and 1998-99.
He also played every cup game or play-off match in those years, as did his successor, Michael Oakes, when appearing in exactly 50 games in 2001-02.
Going back further, John Burridge, Paul Bradshaw and Gary Pierce all had ever-present Wolves seasons while Phil Parkes accomplished the feat alongside John McAlle in 1971-72 on 57 games and with John Richards in 1972-73 on 59 – a tally inflated as it included both Watney Cup and Texaco Cup fixtures.
All of the above relate to appearances in cups as well as the League and Wayne Hennessey was a Championship ever-present, but not in the cups, in 2007-08.
Moving to outfield players, we should remind ourselves that Coady was also a League ever-present last season while also playing in six FA Cup games and two of Wolves’ three Carabao Cup matches.
Danny Batth is the last man we can find to have played in every League and cup game in a campaign (the 2013-14 League One-winning season), with Darren Bazeley not sitting out any time either in the 1999-2000 Championship.
Working backwards, we find the record books reveal eight other ever-presents (in League and cups) from the last 45 years – Robbie Dennison in 1989-90, Andy Thompson in 1988-89, Andy Mutch and Mark Kendall in 1987-88, John Humphrey in 1984-85 and 1982-83 and Geoff Palmer, Derek Parkin and Steve Daley in 1976-77.
The case of Mutch and Kendall was a special one as their record spanned an incredible 61 matches, the Welsh keeper playing every minute except the few he missed when knocked out against Hartlepool in the title-clinching final home game.
Equally remarkable was the combined season-long consistency of Pierce, Palmer, Parkin and Daley in keeping their shirts in every game of the club’s Second Division title triumph under Sammy Chung. The only temporary absence of any of the quartet was when Palmer was replaced by Bobby Gould during the win at Blackburn in mid-April.
The 1950s was surprisingly thin as regards ever-presents, although Johnny Hancocks was one in the championship-winning season of 1953-54.
Maybe Cullis knew something later managers didn’t and chose to occasionally rest his star names; certainly, he had terrific strength in depth if he decided to do so.
But we should also be aware that international fixtures were often played in that era on Saturday afternoons without the League programme being interrupted, so Wolves were well used to losing some of their best players from time to time.
Cullis did use full-back Bobby Thomson in every one of 43 League and cup games in both 1962-63 and 1963-64, though, and there were several similar cases later in the decade under new management.
In this category, we have found Dave Wagstaffe in 1966-67 (48 games), John Holsgrove in 1967-68 (44) and Derek Parkin in both 1968-69 (47) and 1969-70 (50).
If you think we have missed any notable cases, please bring them to our attention.