Help From The Bench
New Trend Had A Slow Start
A look in the record books confirms Freddie Goodwin as the first Wolves player ever to be sent on as a substitute in a League game. But who was the first man selected to fulfill the 12th man duties for the club in a competitive fixture?
Goodwin entered the fray from the bench in the home win over Middlesbrough on October 16, 1965, a couple of months after the authorities had approved the use of a replacement if a player was injured.
The Stockport-born wing-half went on against Boro for Ernie Hunt, who had appeared on the score-sheet alongside Peter Knowles and Dave Woodfield in his side’s fourth successive 3-0 victory.
But different colleagues had already sat on the bench throughout the previous 12 matches that season as managers grappled with the new concept.
And the first of those, who was therefore Wolves’ first substitute in League football, was another wing-half, John Holsgrove.
His arrival from Crystal Palace in the summer of 1965 was followed by a period of looking on from the sidelines as caretaker manager Andy Beattie named him as his stand-by man for the opening two games, away to Coventry and Manchester City.
Then, without going on, he was named in the reserves on the season’s second Saturday and Les Wilson took over as Wolves’ first home substitute, unstripped throughout, for the 3-0 win over Carlisle in which Knowles scored a hat-trick.
Ken Knighton was introduced for Holsgrove and Ron Flowers respectively in the games against Bolton and Ipswich at the start of December and Woodfield saw active service as the no 12 at home to Southampton and Bolton.
But even with Knighton going on at Ipswich for Bobby Thomson on the final day of 1965-66, Wolves had used a substitute only six times all season – a remarkable statistic when compared with the present-day overhauling of sides.
The trend did gather pace with Ronnie Allen in charge in the 1966-67 promotion-winning season and increased yet further 12 months later back in the top flight.
And the first Wolves substitute to score a goal was Les Wilson, whose ability to play in so many different positions made him a regular choice as a no 12. He went on for Dave Wagstaffe and netted in a 4-2 First Division defeat at Everton in September, 1967, having already become the club’s first sent-on sub in the FA Cup when he replaced Hunt in the third-round replay win over Oldham.
Goodwin’s cameo in the role against Middlesbrough was his only senior appearance of 1965-66 and he left the following summer.
And that crushing home win rounded off a wonderful introduction to first-team football at the club for Holsgrove. His first four games in the starting line-up all brought 3-0 wins – at home to Bury, at Norwich and Leyton Orient and against Boro at Molineux.