Wolves And The Olympics
….A Surprisingly Long List
If you thought connections between Molineux and the Olympic Games would be difficult to find, think again. The list of links is considerable.
Over the decades, Wolves players past and present have competed, coached and even triumphed in the summer extravaganza, not least when Raul Jimenez was part of Mexico’s gold medal line-up nine years ago.
Steve Corica, the title-winning current head coach of A-League club Sydney, played in the football tournament at one Olympics (Barcelona in 1992) before joining Wolves – and another (Atlanta in 1996) within months of his arrival here.
The Aussie, now 48, also won more than 30 caps for his country and narrowly missed out on a bronze medal in Spain when his side were beaten by Ghana at the Nou Camp in the match for third place.
Bill Slater got nowhere near as close to the podium when part of the Great Britain side at the 1952 Games in Helsinki. In later years, he recalled to us his disappointment at the team being eliminated by Luxemburg even before the opening ceremony had taken place.
But his Olympic experience extended into a lifelong passion because his daughter Barbara took part in the gymnastics at the 1976 Games in Montreal and has been involved in the once-every-four-years spectacular many times since while in senior positions at BBC Sport.
Others who are well known at Wolves have been highly active on the sidelines. Darren Bazeley is currently in Tokyo as assistant coach to the New Zealand football team, who had his good friend Neil Emblen as head coach when they came to the 2012 event in Britain.
We have reported before that 1960s Wolves keeper (and later coach) Dave Maclaren oversaw Malaysia’s progress to the 1972 Munich Olympics as their head coach.
And Les Wilson teamed up with Tony Waiters and Bob McNab – the latter a Wolves left-back for a brief spell in he mid-1970s – to lead Canada to a quarter-final place in Los Angeles in 1984.
Steven Fletcher, while in the final months of his Molineux career, made it into Stuart Pearce’s initial squad of 35 for the 2012 Games based in London and, although he missed out on a spot in the final 18, others with more tenuous gold and black connections have stepped into the actual arena.
Bobby Gould’s son Jonathan went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as coach to the New Zealand football team while a man even more well known in Kiwi sporting circles, Auckland-born 1980s Wolves defender Ricky Herbert, would no doubt have been regaled with stories about how his father, Clive, a one-time professional cyclist, served as a long-time football administrator and was an official at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. Herbert’s mother, Shirley, was a champion sprinter.
Still on a close family theme, Dion Sanderson’s aunt, javelin thrower Tessa, struck gold in LA in 1984 and Robin Garnham – the Swedish-born son of 1970s Wolves reserve keeper Stuart – played handball for Great Britain at the London Olympics. One of Dion’s Molineux colleagues, Rafa Mir, is currently in the Spain squad in Tokyo.
We have decided to save the best until last. In 1908, Kenneth Hunt followed up his feat of scoring for Wolves in their FA Cup final victory over Newcastle by helping the GB football team win the gold medal at the first London Olympics a few weeks later.