Five West Midlands derbies, few points, NO fans. But, mercifully, all that is about to change tomorrow.
After the previously unthinkable backcloth of empty grounds for what would have been hugely-attended matches against Villa and Albion over the last two years, the volume is being turned back to maximum as claret and blue meets gold and black.
Villa Park will be jumping for Wolves’ visit – whoever would have thought the stands would be depressingly deserted for two successive trips to a venue where this weekend’s visitors have played FA Cup semi-finals?
So, memories of a pre-Wembley Monday night League victory, winners by Matt Jarvis and Leander Dendoncker and a reviving Helder Costa penalty will come flooding back for those heading across the patch this weekend.
Considering the fixture has held its fair share of difficulties over the decades, Wolves have actually done well there in recent times.
The two visits there during lockdown have brought that Dendocker decider and then a 0-0 draw last season. Before that came a 4-1 hiding in the Championship title-winning campaign under Nuno and three more draws plus the Jarvis-secured winner for Mick McCarthy’s team, with a Carabao Cup exit thrown in.
We will gloss as quickly as we can over what happened prior to that lot as the story from September, 1980 to 2003 was one of massive Villa supremacy with eight consecutive wins for them in clashes of the clubs in the Second City.
And the absence of supporters from such monumental clashes certainly did not inspire Wolves in their final season under Nuno Espirito Santo.
They may have drawn in low-scoring games away to both Villa and an Albion side close to being doomed at the time but they lost at home to both by the odd goal. That means they gleaned only two points out of 12 from West Midlands derbies in 2020-21 and took a moderate five from 15 as a whole while the (three) grounds were empty.
The one settled by Dendoncker had the unique status of being the only competitive game ever played by the clubs in June – that away victory on the 27th of the month marking a third win out of three for Wolves after football resumed from a Covid shutdown spanning just over three months.
How nice it will be for tomorrow’s big clash to take a more normal place in the history books, with an attendance figure alongside it!