A Stirring Fresh Insight

Barnwell Opens Up On Wolves v Forest

John Barnwell and George Berry savour the euphoria at Wembley in 1980.

In recognition of the fact that a momentous reunion is taking place tonight, we have brought our planned midweek offering forward a day.

And we are greatly indebted to the Mail on Sunday and writer Joe Bernstein, in particular, for providing the backbone to this article about Wolves’ Carabao Cup trip to Nottingham Forest.

This isn’t the first meeting of the clubs in the competition since Andy Gray’s famous tap-in winner at Wembley in 1980. There was also a five-goal Molineux thriller in 1994 that was shaded by the Premier League visitors during the respective reigns of Graham Taylor and Frank Clark.

But there is only one past head-to-head that really comes to mind when we are talking about League Cup history between West Midlands and East Midlands.

Well done to the experienced Bernstein for smoking out some excellent lines in an article that leaned heavily on quotes from Wolves’ victorious 1980 manager John Barnwell, who was also previously a prolific Forest inside-forward.

Among the things I learned was that Barnwell lives next door to John McGovern on the banks of the River Trent and is often taken to games at the City Ground by the man who skippered Brian Clough’s side 41 years ago.

There is also an insight into the mind games employed by both camps, with Emlyn Hughes and his team kept back in the dressing room for an extra couple of minutes before kick-off to get under the skin of their opponents.

The fact, though, that this was the day Clough and Peter Taylor left the honour of leading the side out to their trainer Jimmy Gordon possibly rendered the ploy as futile.

Barnwell revealed to the Mail on Sunday that he didn’t speak at the end of the game to Clough but later, during the celebrations, had to lift the cup through a window when he was locked out of the hotel.

Elsewhere is poignant reference to his near-fatal crash on the A38 in May, 1979 when his Rover ploughed into the central barrier. ‘The rear view mirror was lodged in his skull,’ the article reminds us, continuing: ‘The first eye-witness thought he was dead.’

There is also mention of how he walked up and down Tynemouth Beach while staying at his parents’ home in Newcastle to recuperate afterwards while his assistant, Richie Barker, was put in charge of Wolves’ team.

Barnwell, now 82, says he still has no recollections of what happened in the accident and shares the commonly held view that he never quite got back his full sharpness.

Wolves’ deterioration from Wembley glory was more public amid the crippling interest rates payable on the cost of Molineux’s towering new stand.

“The team I inherited was getting older,” the manager is quoted as saying in the piece. “I had to bring in new players but couldn’t get deals done. The biggest one was Zbigniew Boniek. We had someone stay with him in Poland, he wanted to come. The price was $200,000 but our chairman blocked it. (Boniek went to Juventus a few months later).

Barney with his heroic keeper Paul Bradshaw (left) and skipper Emlyn Hughes.

“The final straw was a board meeting to discuss selling Andy Gray to Leeds. It didn’t happen because they offered £600,000 but when I asked my chairman how much money I’d get to replace Gray, he said: “Nothing”.’

Stirring stuff. We recommend a read of John Barnwell, the last manager to win a trophy with Wolves, on long wait for glory days | Daily Mail Online if you haven’t already seen it.

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