A Fond Match-Day Meet-Up

‘Holly’ Delighted To Reunite With Old Mates

Mick Hollifield (far right) with (from left) John Richards, Hughie Atkinson and Mick Matthews.

Mick Hollifield has made a memorable first return to Molineux in a decade and a half – and found himself surrounded by friendly, familiar faces.

The Australia-based early-1980s Wolves left-back attended Saturday’s home game against Liverpool and stayed over in the city with his good pal, Mick Matthews, before heading out of the area yesterday.

And the reintroductions he savoured at Molineux with Hugh Atkinson, Mel Eves and John Richards added to the mood of nostalgia at a fixture that holds happy memories all round from 40 odd years ago.

“It must have been 15 years or more since I was last at the ground,” he said. “I changed jobs a couple of times and found holidays harder to come by, then Covid struck. I had certainly been away too long.

“I remember going to see Wolves against another of the clubs Matty and I played for, Hull, and the North Bank End wasn’t as it is now with that spectacular big stand. That probably gives you an idea of when my previous visit might have been.

“There used to be a guy called Sid on the players’ door and that was about it. Now there seem to be security people and chaperones all over the place!

“It was great to be there again, though, and to see those lads. We had hoped Bob Coy would join us as well but he wasn’t able to unfortunately.

“I have been closer to Matty, who has gone over to Sydney to visit me two or three times, but it’s anyone’s guess when I had last seen some of the others. What a brilliant catch-up we had!”

Hollifield touched down in Manchester last Tuesday and headed straight by hire car to see family on his native Teesside before linking up with Matthews, who is eight months older than him but was six months behind him in breaking into Wolves’ first team.

And the Humbersider’s continuing coaching duties saw to it that he has been able to organise a two-day working visit to St George’s Park on their journey back up north together.

“We’re going to Hull v Leeds on Wednesday and, before I head home, I plan to see a game at Middlesbrough, who were very much my team when I was growing up,” Hollifield added.

“Obviously, I really enjoyed the first half especially on Saturday and recall playing in a Wolves side who beat Liverpool 4-1 at Molineux in 1980-81, which was my debut season in the first team.

‘Holly’ as portrayed in the Wolves programme four and a bit decades ago.

“That was some night and Matty has his own happy memories of doing well in the fixture because he headed the only goal past Bruce Grobbelaar on the first day of the following season.”

Atkinson once scored with a diving header in front of The Kop in a 2-1 defeat away to Liverpool around the same time while Richards was the match-winner at home to Liverpool on two important occasions and Eves was one of the marksmen in the 4-1 success.

Diners in Molineux’s Hayward Suite heard from the two Micks over the microphone before Saturday’s clash and there was a special surprise for them when John Bowater stepped forward.

The present-day Wolves director had a senior position at Tarmac at the time of their emergence as senior Wolves players and succeeded in persuading them to coach the company’s team in division two of the Wolverhampton Sunday League.

“They used to come down and coach us in the week when we could all get together and organised and motivated us on a Sunday,” he said. “Matty was the more disciplined and regular of the two, which is probably why he has gone on to work in coaching for all these years.

“His wife or maybe girlfriend then worked for Tarmac and we won the divisional cup before we went our separate ways, so there are positive memories of them around here away from what they did at Wolves.”

One other familiar face they encountered before the game two days ago was journalist Dave Harrison, who switched from the Birmingham Post & Mail in 1982 and became the Express & Star’s Molineux correspondent.

Hollifield, now 62, had 25 senior outings while at Molineux and also played for Tranmere before heading Down Under to serve, coincidentally, Woolongong Wolves.

He lives an hour south of Sydney and is an operations manager after working for decades in the cleaning industry. Despite having separated a couple of years ago from the school sweetheart he married while a Wolves player at the age of 19, he is also excited about the prospect of another grandchild being born to them in the coming weeks.