American Trip Conjures Up Nostalgic Recollections
It’s an end-of-season tournament in America – but not as older Wolves supporters will remember them!
In 1967, the squad who had just won promotion back to Division One played the small matter of 14 Stateside matches with Los Angeles as their base, the last of them an utterly epic 6-5 golden-goal victory over Aberdeen in the final.
Two summers later, with Bill McGarry now in charge in succession to Ronnie Allen, Wolves adopted Kansas City as their headquarters and branched out to emerge triumphant again, this time over a shorter eight-game programme, with an exhibition fixture thrown in as well.
The 2023 version, though, has been very different – a seven-a-side event staged somewhat off the beaten track in Cary, North Carolina, among players from a decade or two ago. And it definitely wasn’t for the present-day generation of gold-shirted favourites.
The Soccer Tournament, which the organisers were eager to have shortened to and marketed as TST, was a winners-take-all $1,000 prize-fund event contested by 32 teams, headed by Borrusia Dortmund, Wolves, West Ham, Dallas, Necaxa, Charlotte and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Named in the Molineux squad were Harry Burgoyne, Richard Stearman, Scott Golbourne, Prince Oniangue, Stephen Hunt, Zeli Ismail, Adlene Guedioura, Bakary Sako, Leon Clarke and Jack Hodnett, Academy striker coach Darius Vassell having been ruled out shortly beforehand by injury and Phil Hayward in attendance from the medical team at Compton.
In charge of the group was Wolves head of player development Darren Ryan, assisted by Kevin Foley.
Elsewhere in the tournament, Matt Jarvis was in the West Ham squad, Greg Halford represented Hashtag United (there were some radical elements to the venture!) and David Jones was with the Wrexham party who attracted particular curiosity as a result of their club’s march back to the Football League under Hollywood-based ownership.
Patrick Cutrone was there, too – as a member of the Como squad managed during the four days of competition by Cesc Fabregas.
Small pitches and goalposts were used, as were two 20-minute halves, with a complicated ‘golden goal’ system that involved players from either side being taken off to make the playing area ever less populated and a decisive goal more likely.
Wolves, Borussia, West Ham, Necaxa and North Carolina were among the teams who sadly bowed out early, with Dallas expelled after a racism row that prompted Anton Ferdinand and other Hammers players to walk off. SLC, from Canada, and Connecticut-based Newtown Pride contested yesterday’s final.
Maybe they will all, presumably with the exception of Dallas, have the chance to return, though. There is talk of this becoming a regular feature on the calendar.