AB First In Line

1983 Start To System That Is Now Routine

Graham Hawkins – oversaw Wolves’ first loan capture.

They have been commonplace for decades and can help transform a club’s season.

But when did loan signings first become part of Wolves’ landscape and who was the first such capture the club made?

We have researched hard in an area that doesn’t seem to have been specifically covered in the many Molineux-related reference books, uncertain as we initially were as to which decade this breakthrough came in.

Certainly, the answer did not come readily to the lips of Mel Eves, who was late in his career when he joined the trend for making temporary moves and whose memory we had hoped to tap into.

Eves was a Wolves team-mate of the man we have identified as the ice-breaker, although we would be delighted to hear from anyone who believes they know differently.

It somehow seems appropriate that a man with the initials AB should head a list, Andy Blair finding himself on top of this one.

He arrived in Graham Hawkins’s struggling squad in October, 1983, with the specific intention of returning to his parent club Villa a few weeks later. There just wasn’t the money in the Molineux coffers to nurture hopes of a permanent move.

Starting with a 3-0 defeat at Manchester United, to where Wolves return in the League next Saturday, Blair played ten first-team games that included a memorable 3-1 win at Albion and ended with a 3-0 home win over Everton.

It was a time of considerable Molineux gloom, though, and he returned across the West Midlands having tasted defeat far more than victory.

He then started only six senior matches for Villa in the rest of a season that immediately preceded the arrival there of Graham Turner.

Andy Blair (left) with Bobby Gould at the latter’s book launch.

As for Wolves, Danny Crainie and Scott McGarvey – born, like Blair, in Scotland – arrived on loan a few weeks later in 1983-84 from Celtic and Manchester United respectively and a new trend was being set.

Molineux Memories, by ‘North Banker’ Mike Slater, is the book we found particularly helpful in researching this piece – it also shows that Wolves signed Steve Biggins, Jim Melrose and Nicky Sinclair on loan in 1984-85.

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