Mel, Scourge Of Manchester
Old Trafford Winner Was Not A One-Off
Manchester United v Wolves is looming at the end of New Year weekend and Mel Eves and I are doing what we can to delay mention of THAT goal he scored at Old Trafford.
The conversation is diverted to other significant occasions he had against them and to the happy times he savoured at their expense.
“We and I generally did okay against United,” he said. “Although we were well beaten when I went there to play my first away game in the senior team, we beat them back at Molineux towards the end of the same 1977-78 season.
“I played four games in a row when Sammy Chung first picked me, starting with a home draw against Ipswich, and was then left out for several months.
“We were in danger of going down in the spring and he switched to playing Bill Rafferty, myself and John Richards as a three in attack because we needed some wins.
“I scored my first goal when we rescued a late draw at Chelsea and then headed the winner at home to United the following Saturday when I got on to Derek Parkin’s cross from the left 10-15 minutes from the end.
“I had always had one-year contracts to that point and some people were probably wondering after the lengthy spell I had out of the side whether I would be released.
“But I also got a goal when we beat Villa in our final home game, then went on an England B tour (of the Far East and Australasia) in the close season. It was a mad few weeks.
“So things really took off for me and I ended up with a three-year deal, as did Bob Hazell and George Berry, two other youngsters who had done well.”
More joy against United came in 1979-80, the season in which Eves was part of a team who won 3-1 at Molineux in the September. Then he hit the only goal of the return at Old Trafford in the February – a fine angled right-foot shot that has happily resurfaced in the archives in relatively recent times.
“I didn’t score in the first match but got hold of a few copies of the photo of me jumping several feet in the air to celebrate Kenny Hibbitt’s goal at the North Bank End,” he added.
“It was the first year of the new John Ireland Stand being used and it looks like I am levitating while the fans are going wild as well!
“We were the only team to do the double over United that season and the only away side to win at their place. We had a terrific away record at that time under John Barnwell and Richie Barker and stopped them winning the League title really as they finished second, two points behind Liverpool.”
Eves, having had a Christmas break because of the postponements of Wolves’ games against Watford and Arsenal, will be at Monday’s Old Trafford clash, summarising alongside BBC WM commentator Mike Taylor.
And he will travel with some confidence that his 42-year-old claim as the last man to score a Wolves winner at the ground might be drawing towards a close.
“It was good to lose my record as the club’s last scorer in Europe and see European football back at Molineux,” he added. “Now it would be great to see us win at Old Trafford and for someone else to carry the mantle I have had for long enough!”