How’s This For Starters?

Beginning As We DON’T Want To Go On

Jimmy Murray causing problems against Manchester City – the club he hit with four goals on the opening day of 1956-57.

Have Wolves ever faced a start to a League season that is as high-profile as this one?

Already they have had a day-one meeting with the reigning FA Cup holders for the first time since they faced – and thrashed – Manchester City in August, 1956.

City had beaten Birmingham at Wembley a few weeks earlier but, unlike Leicester this time, did not then go on to lift the Charity (Community) Shield.

And the follow-up, as it affected Wolves, was much lower-key 65 seasons ago than it is now.

Stan Cullis’s side travelled to Luton and Blackpool after hammering City 5-1 at Molineux, that huge win coming thanks largely to four goals by future Maine Road man Jimmy Murray, the Seasiders having finished between champions Manchester United and third-placed Wolves in 1955-56.

Now, the spotlight is several shades brighter, with Tottenham and a certain Nuno Espirito Santo visiting Wolverhampton on Sunday to provide the opposition at Bruno Lage’s first Premier League home game.

Then, after the clash with Manchester City’s opening-weekend conquerors, comes an epic battle with Manchester United, also at Molineux on a Sunday afternoon.

Given that United finished second behind their city rivals in the League last season and both they and Spurs have been in major European finals in the last two and a bit years, this is one extremely tasty start for Wolves.

In place of Leicester, Tottenham and United, Wolves, for example, had Portsmouth, Coventry and Watford 20 seasons ago. In 1998-99, it was Tranmere, Oxford and Swindon. Times have certainly changed.

As for high-profile Wolves starts in the past that start to measure up to this one, how about Liverpool (H), Arsenal (H) and Norwich (A) in 1983-84?

Derek Dougan tangles with Norman Hunter in Wolves’ early-season away draw against Leeds in a pressured start to 1972-73.

And we should also draw the attention of our readers to a campaign that began 50 years ago last Saturday. Then, Bill McGarry’s team kicked off with a home game against League Cup holders Spurs before heading in the midweek to beaten FA Cup finalists Liverpool and then facing an away game against a Leeds side who had been pipped to the League Championship by Arsenal a few weeks earlier.

The 0-0 draw between Leeds and Wolves on August 21, 1971, was at Huddersfield after crowd trouble the previous spring had led to the closure of Elland Road for four home matches.

Thomas Publications