A Strange Thing Happened In The Derby…..

Unusual Occurences From Albion Games Past

Continuing our countdown to tonight’s first Hawthorns meeting of Albion and Wolves since 2011, we highlight some of the stranger occurences in the Black Country derby, home and away, over the years.

Dave Wagstaffe tormenting the Baggies…..but he had a surprise change of role against them in 1967.

August 23, 1967: Dave Wagstaffe did not expect to be leaving the Molineux pitch in a jersey several sizes too big for him but that’s what happened after he had to replace the sent-off Phil Parkes in a 3-3 draw in Wolves’ first home League game after the winning of promotion. A 52,438 crowd saw him unusually attired in green in a game the Baggies salvaged thanks to a hotly disputed Tony Brown goal.

April 6, 1991: Tom Bennett also did a stint between the Molineux posts in another high-scoring draw 23 seasons on. This time it was an injury to Mike Stowell that necessitated the second-half change.

March 15, 1965: Albion defender Bobby Cram, late uncle of athlete Steve Cram, got married on the day of the Black Country derby, tying the knot in Bristol in the morning and then joining his team-mates before a 3-2 Monday night defeat to which Hugh McIlmoyle contributed two of the goals.

August 30, 1967: Peter Knowles became Wolves’ first used substitute in a game against Albion when he went on for Mike Bailey in a 4-1 defeat at The Hawthorns.

January 12, 1997: Approaching six months on from his signing for Wolves, Keith Curle started a competitive game for the first time for the club when he lined up after chronic injury problems in a 2-0 home win at Molineux – one secured by goals from Dean Richards and Iwan Roberts.

September 15, 1996: Roberts had written his name into Wolves folklore early in that same season by scoring a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory at The Hawthorns. He remains the last Wolves player to do so at either venue and no-one else in gold and black had done so since a Terry Wharton 33 years earlier.

March 16, 1963: The 7-0 slaughter in which Wharton hit a treble brought wry looks from visiting players. It was a rearranged fixture after the first game had been abandoned several weeks earlier. With Wolves leading 2-0 at half-time in the original fixture, Albion complained furiously that conditions were dangerous, a couple of their players even jumping in the bath to help persuade the referee he should call a halt.

March 20, 1990: Steve Bull hit a late winner against his former club Albion for the second time in five and a bit months. He also netted against them in 1993 and 1996 at The Hawthorns.

September 29, 1954: What pride there must have been in West Midlands football when the sides met in the Charity Shield at Molineux. Wolves were League champions, having relegated their neighbours to runners-up place, and Albion were FA Cup holders – and they produced a classic 4-4 draw in which Roy Swinbourne (2), Johnny Hancocks and Norman Deeley scored for Stan Cullis’s side.

February 18, 1931: As we sadly contemplate a second successive Black Country derby without fans, here’s a reminder of how it has always been a magnetic fixture…..over 36,000 saw the meeting at Molineux on this date, compared with the 8,792 at Reading to see Wolves’ previous match and the 15,000 at Bradford for the one straight after.

Mick McCarthy – took Wolves to a late-in-the-season showdown with Albion. Picture by Rob Clayton.

May 3, 2021: Have the clubs ever met so late in the season as this in the League? Not quite but they did play each other at Molineux on May 1 in 1982 and Wolves beat Albion 2-1 at Molineux on May 2, 1938. The clubs also met in mid-May in the play-offs in 2007 when Mick McCarthy and Tony Mowbray were the respective managers.

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