Bully Off – And Running!
First-Day Impact Of Record-Breaker
Talk of fast-starting strikers brings to mind another remarkable feature of Steve Bull’s mind-boggling Wolves career.
We may, in due course, have reason to include Raul Jimenez more prominently in such articles but among the plethora of weekend stats was the revelation that Teddy Sheringham and Mo Salah are the only two men ever to have netted in their sides’ first game of four different Premier League seasons.
Which, in turn, had us checking our records to see just how quickly Bully used to fly out of the traps year after year.
To cut to the chase, Molineux’s record marksman of all time achieved the feat no fewer than seven times in ten attempts.
Ok, he accomplished that particular deed largely in the second tier, with a goal at Scarborough on the opening day of the 1987-88 Fourth Division season thrown in, but his figures make even more astonishing reading the more we probe.
Wolves always started on a Saturday in his era and he used opening day to plunder 11 goals across the 13 years of his Molineux mayhem, including a hat-trick at Grimsby in August, 1996.
He also managed braces in both 1990-91 and 1993-94 when the fixture computer sent Oldham and Bristol City respectively to Wolves for their first games.
The only times he missed out on getting off the mark immediately were at Bury in the 1988-89 Third Division, at Middlesbrough 12 months later following the club’s second successive promotion and when Steve Froggatt prodded in the only goal against Mark McGhee’s Reading in August, 1994.
So Bully scored on the season’s first day in four consecutive years and in six openers out of seven.
Given that he is head and shoulders above anyone else in Wolves’ all-time goalscorer charts, we shouldn’t be surprised he also started quicker than anyone else.
The nearest Wolves player to him in this particular field is Jimmy Murray, who scored eight opening-day goals, Derek Dougan having netted six and Roy Swinbourne five.
Surprisingly, John Richards did so only once (at Burnley in 1974). He was joined on the score-sheet that day by Geoff Palmer, who also put away a penalty when Wolves kicked off their 1983-84 programme with a home draw against Liverpool.