A Surprise Claim
Happy Hunting Ground – Despite Wolves’ Struggles
“Next up was a meeting with Newcastle United at St James’ Park, which I recognised as being a lucky ground for me during my career. And so it proved again.”
It’s hard to believe that any Wolves player of the 1960 and 1970s could write this in his autobiography, given the acute problems the club had on their visits to Tyneside in that era. But it’s true.
My own publication, A Wolves 1970s Scrapbook, homed in on the fact that the travelling Wanderers couldn’t buy a win for more than three decades at the venue at which they will be playing in the Premier League on Friday night.
Flick on to page 125, if you have it, and remind yourself of how they went so long without a win up there; 15 successive trips to be precise from 1958-59 until when Steve Bull found the combination of the location, the first day of the 1990s and the chance to reward a few hundred airborne travellers an intoxicating and irresistible mix.
Jim McCalliog was party to four of those unrewarding long hauls in the meantime, three of them ending in defeat and one in a draw.
But that paltry record in gold and black doesn’t stop the Scot looking back with some satisfaction at his visits to Newcastle across the span of his long and eventful career.
As well as scoring Wolves’ goal there in the 1-1 draw a few weeks after his Molineux arrival in the summer of 1969, McCalliog can go back and find happy memories in an under-23 appearance at St James’ for Scotland against England in March, 1967.
He scored the opening goal past Jim Montgomery in a 3-1 win against a powerful home side containing such respected names as Hollins, Kendall, Harvey, Sadler, Reaney, Lawler and Tommy Smith.
And he had already enjoyed a happy outing there at club level with Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup, as page 49 of his Wembley Wins, Wembley Woes story tells us.
That is the reference to Newcastle being a happy hunting ground for him and he added: “Joe Harvey, the opposing manager, had pinpointed me in the press as the danger to his side. I can’t recall if I lived up to that assessment but we won 2-1 to move into the fifth round.”
The Owls went on to Wembley in that 1965-66 season without being drawn at home but a variety of Wolves men, including seven debutants, found Tyneside a very difficult place to go.
In that long run without success, Derek Parkin, Paul Walker, Mike O’Grady, Danny Hegan, Bobby Gould, Steve Kindon and Gary Pierce all made their first starts for the club there.