Dear Diary Entry 115

‘Young’ Jinky In Hot Seat

Jamie Smith in his days in Welsh football. Picture courtesy of Airbus FC.

Monday, April 5: Shocked to see Jamie Smith in charge of Sheffield Wednesday and facing the cameras after the 5-0 slaughter of Mick McCarthy’s Cardiff today. He surely can’t be old enough! Developed and given his first chance by Wolves, he linked up with Darren Moore in the backroom at Albion, followed him to Doncaster and is now acting manager at Hillsborough after his boss was diagnosed with covid.

Friday, April 9: Time for some context amid the hype about Wolves winning at Fulham for the first time in the top flight since 1967….they actually haven’t played many First Division games at Craven Cottage over those decades – and they have done well there in fixtures played in the second grade in that time. Not that the late drama surrounding Adama Traore’s dramatic and spectacular winner tonight was any less welcome for all that!

Thursday, April 15: Good to see that the newly-published issue 74 of Backpass has an action photo of none other than Billy Wright on the front. The legendary Wolves and England skipper is seen in a game against Charlton at The Valley and again inside in the company of Jimmy Mullen in the England line-up against the Rest of the World in 1953. As if that’s not enough, there’s a fond memory about him at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico from former ITV commentator Gerry Harrison, who also relates an anecdote about Graham Taylor from when the tournament returned to Mexico in 1986. John Richards, Chris Crowe and Brian Little are other former Wolves men who get a mention and, in more detail, there’s an obituary of John Kirkham, the ex-Molineux wing-half who died in February.

Saturday, April 17: Hard to believe that it’s 32 years since a Third Division draw between Wolves and Sheffield United brought one side the title and the other automatic promotion. That was in 1989 – and Molineux’s 2021 staging of the fixture this evening made Nuno’s side even more comfortable above the Premier League danger area and confirmed the inevitability of the Blades’ relegation.

Wednesday, April 21: Rang Phil Parkes to tell him that one of the physios he knew as a Vancouver Whitecaps player, Barry Crocker, had died. The news came to us from Les Wilson and is going to be relayed by Lofty to two of his British-based former team-mates, Roger Kenyon and Willie Johnston. It’s easy to forget given the keeper’s 382 Wolves games and his standing in joint 16th place in the club’s all-time record appearance makers’ list that he also had a terrific career across the Atlantic, initially with the Whitecaps.

Friday, April 23: With things moving along nicely in the efforts to very belatedly get a League Championship winners’ medal to Ron Stockin, wouldn’t it be nice if the same thing could also happen for the family of Bryn Jones? It was with Arsenal rather than at Molineux that the Welshman contributed to a title triumph, though, so we may be looking to our counterparts in North London to try to drive this matter forward. Jones might well have won something with Wolves if he had stayed – after his departure in the summer of 1938, the club finished runners-up in both the League and the FA Cup before war intervened.

Nike’s Tony Penman (far left) with keepers Colin Boulton, Phil Parkes, Kevin Keelan, Mike Mahoney and Alex Stepney at a meeting in Birmingham in the late 1970s. Also Mick Hoban.

Friday, April 30: Raised a glass today on the occasion of Tony Penman’s funeral in Wolverhampton. Thankful though we were to be able to present a full tribute to the man who famously spotted John Richards, it is nice to be able to give this second mention to someone who was hugely respected, admired and liked by those who came into contact with him, among them Alan Hinton and Les Wilson, the latter of whom recalls great kindness from the Penman family when he was settling into life with Wolves in the mid-1960s.

Saturday, May 1: Stirring words from Darren Ferguson on the BBC after steering Peterborough to promotion for the fourth time……at least he thought it was the fourth time! The strain was clear in the former Wolves midfielder’s voice as his side had needed to come from three down early on at home to Lincoln to save themselves and finally get the job done. It’s quite a story.

Monday, May 3: in the first of their two successive games against the Albions, Wolves went some way to making up for the shock of their defeat in the Black Country derby in January with a result tonight that has been pretty synonymous over the years with Hawthorns stagings of the fixture. What a pity the 1-1 draw couldn’t have given Nuno and his players a proper taste of the rivalry – one that only a packed stadium could bring about. Next up is a visit from a Brighton side who we saw in the flesh just before the first lockdown and who remain something of a bogey to Wolves.

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