Making Headlines, Making Waves

Island Hoppers Packed ‘Em In

What big news Wolves were when their season went into extraordinary overdrive in their last summer under the managership of Stan Cullis.

The bewildering round of matches they played against Chelsea and others on a lengthy Caribbean tour was deemed too insignificant (or maybe too expensive) for the Express & Star to despatch their long-time Molineux correspondent Phil Morgan.

But, while the paper had to rely on phone calls to hotels and despatches from faraway reporters, publications on the islands filled their boots.

The Jamaica Gleaner, for example, hailed the arrival of the first Wolves-Chelsea match day on their island by carrying no fewer than seven stories of different lengths in one edition.

Among the themes covered were parking arrangements for the ‘many thousands of spectators expected’, the fact that the referee would be Blackpool-based Football League official Ken Parr and even talk of the ball boys.

There was considerable focus, too, on how this Jamaica leg of the tour – Wolves and Chelsea also met in Barbados, Trinidad and Haiti – was played out with the Four Aces Trophy at stake.

Predictably, the paper went to town with match reports and photos afterwards, although the picture quality – in black and white, of course – came nowhere near those accessed, largely in colour, for David Instone’s 2015 Wolves All Over The World book.

As we have written at length before about the games and some of the stories around them, we won’t go over much of that old ground, except to remind readers of the sheer unlikeliness of anything remotely like this venture being repeated these days.

Chelsea had finished fifth in the 1963-64 season, so imagine Wolves’ players putting their feet up for a couple of weeks after tomorrow’s game at Liverpool and then flying off to a corner of the world much more associated with cricket.

As Arsenal or, more likely Tottenham, are going to finish fifth this time, how would Bruno Lage and his squad fancy facing them over and over again on top of the tiring internal flights, some airport delays and, admittedly, some lovely sun and the odd rum punch?

Oh…and there was a sting in the tail to the extreme familiarity that developed between players managed by Stan Cullis and Tommy Docherty all those decades ago.

The two sides were paired together on the first day of the following season at Molineux – surely the Football League fixture planners were having a mischievous laugh!

Charlie Bamforth

Thomas Publications