St James’ Park A Magnet For Debutants
What do Derek Parkin, Mike O’Grady, Danny Hegan, Bobby Gould, Steve Kindon and Gary Pierce have in common?
Answer: They all made their debuts in yesteryear stagings of the fixture Wolves face at St James’ Park tomorrow night.
And, to this extraordinary list, we can add the names of Paul Walker and Peter Withe, who each made their first Wolves starts away to Newcastle after being given their debuts elsewhere as substitutes.
None of the eight would have found his big day in gold and black more special than Parkin, who was born and bred on Tyneside, although he was transferred to Wolves by Huddersfield as English football’s most expensive full-back.
Sad to say, the occasion, on February 24, 1968, fell a little flat for him as Ronnie Allen’s side were beaten 2-0 – and another remarkable feature of this pile-up of ‘Geordieland’ derbies is that none of them brought victories.
Walker’s introduction to the starting 11 was on April 21, 1969 and was marked by a 4-1 Newcastle victory during a few days in the north-east in which Wolves also lost at Sunderland just before.
On the losing side as well during their blooding at St James’ were Hegan and Gould (August 15, 1970), Kindon (August 12, 1972) and Pierce (September 15, 1973).
At least O’Grady, whose Wolves debut was on September 27, 1969, was able to walk off with the satisfaction of having featured in a 1-1 draw and Withe’s first start – on October 16, 1974 – also saw the points shared, this time with no goals.
These nuggets of information came to light during the researching of David Instone’s next Wolves book, which is due out in early autumn. Still with away games against Newcastle in mind, he has also come up with something else around St James’ Park clashes that he estimates to be around a 1-in-16,000 chance.
The author promises that this 1970s scrapbook-style book will have colour on virtually every page, will contain numerous previously unseen photos and will be like no other book done on the club.
The publication will also have a heavy charity angle, with the majority of the proceeds going to excellent causes, local if possible.