Breaching The ‘Thames Barrier’

Nostalgic Look Back At Craven Cottage Conquest

Derek Dougan celebrates Wolves’ opening goal at Fulham 53 seasons ago.

From an era long before VAR reared its very ugly head and while football footage was largely shown in black and white, we look back at the last time – before Friday – that Wolves had won a top-flight match away to Fulham.

We are indebted to lifelong fan and author-publisher Clive Corbett for inspiring this in-depth look at the 2-1 victory registered by Ronnie Allen’s newly-promoted team at Craven Cottage on the opening day of 1967-68.

“Please indulge me in the real reason for writing this article,” he told us. “The recounting of tedious statistics (about finally winning there in the Premier League) is nothing more than an elaborate excuse for me to drift back to Craven Cottage on August 19, 1967.

“Wolves were fresh from their successful, long summer trip to the USA and 27,874 packed in for the first game of the new season. Thankfully, brief highlights of the game are to be found on the Internet.”

Clive informed us that two minutes and 13 seconds of footage remain on You Tube, taken from British Movietone News, and he identified ‘the legendary Leslie Mitchell’ as commentator.

Not so legendary as to have all his facts right, though. In an intro that refers to Wolves having been the most powerful club in the land in the 1950s, he added about them: “Four times (sic) First Division champions, twice Cup winners after the war and hailed on the continent as the kings of soccer. Wolves may have lost their fame but not their fans.”

So, as a picture apparently tells more than a hundred words……

“The film shows skippers George Cohen and Mike Bailey shaking hands before the start and Dave Wagstaffe put on his backside early on by the England World Cup right-back,” Clive added.

“But Waggy had the last laugh, tormenting Cohen and laying on both Wolves goals. In the first-half, his free-kick was headed home by Derek Dougan – cue the obligatory toilet paper on the net – and, in the second, he took another from the left and Mike Bailey fired home a magnificent right-foot volley that Wolves’ fans behind the goal celebrated wildly.

“When I interviewed him for his book, ‘The Valley Wanderer’, Mike shared his experience of that memorable first day by saying: ‘A 2-1 win provided a welcome start, with Dougan getting on the score sheet and a volley from me sealing maximum points.

“‘I remember my goal well. George Cohen took Waggy out near the corner flag. Waggy took the free-kick and bent in a great ball that came to me on the edge of the box. I was going to bring it down but just hit on the volley and it flew past Tony Macedo into the top corner. I think it was my best Wolves goal.’”

Brian Nichols scored a consolation for Fulham before the end but Leslie Mitchell reported: “Wolves looked the stronger side and certainly deserved the applause and praise for an impressive return to the First Division.”

Clive concluded: Mitchell (1905-85) had a long association with British Movietone News, for whom he commentated during the Second World War and for many years afterwards. His was the first voice heard on BBC Television when it first broadcast in November, 1936.”

The teams in August, 1967:

Fulham: Macedo; Nichols, Callaghan, Dempsey, Cohen, Parmenter, Earle, Brown, Conway, Barrett, Haynes. Manager: Vic Buckingham.

Wolves: Parkes, Taylor, Thomson, Bailey, Woodfield, Holsgrove, Wharton, Hunt, Dougan, Burnside, Wagstaffe. Manager: Ronnie Allen.

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