Dear Diary Entry 143

Close-Season Movement Aplenty!

Michael Jacobs pictured during his spell at Molineux approaching a decade ago.

Wednesday, August 2: Interesting news about former Wolves players and their new employers….Ruben Vinagre, who returned to Portugal in 2022 following four years at Molineux, is back in the English Championship. After an unfulfilling time on loan last season to Everton, where Kevin Thelwell was presumably the catalyst to the deal, he has now been borrowed by Hull. Richard Stearman has popped up at Solihull Moors, with Stephen Ward in situ there as director of football, and Michael Jacobs, whose loan stay at Wolves was upgraded to a permanent transfer in the middle of the last decade, has been reunited with his ex-Wigan boss, Paul Cook, at Chesterfield.

Saturday, August 5: On the subject of summer moves, it was disappointing to miss out on a glimpse of Nathan Collins in the colours of his new club, Brentford. John Lalley and I kicked off a football weekend in London by making our first visit to the ground that Wolves will be returning to on Boxing Day and witnessed an entertaining friendly draw against Lille. But the Bees’ summer signing from Molineux remained unused on the substitutes’ bench.

Sunday, August 6: Caught up before heading off to Tottenham v Shakhtar Donetsk with the sensational news of another Collins. This Scottish version, Neill, signed by Mick McCarthy more than a decade and a half ago, saw his first match day as Barnsley manager highlighted by a 7-0 home win over Port Vale yesterday – the biggest opening-day victory by any League club since 1962. What a start!

Tuesday, August 8: Had a quick catch-up by phone with Alan Ainscow while ringing the 1980s Wolves midfielder on behalf of Paul Berry, who has him in mind as an interviewee for his excellent feature series in the Express & Star.  

Monday, August 14: Unhappy news about Rob Kelly taking a break from duties so soon after being appointed to Ryan Lowe’s backroom staff at Preston following his exit from Wigan. Having been installed in the new post only in mid-July, the former Wolves player and coach is now facing a spell away from the game after a piece on the North End website said he had ‘some personal health issues’. We, of course, wish our good friend all the best for a very speedy return to the dug-out.

Saturday, August 19: New season, same old Brighton bogey! Mel Eves, one of the early witnesses to this decades-old issue, was at Molineux today for what turned out to be a trying home introduction for new manager Gary O’Neil, so too radio veteran Andy Thompson, who was also party to one or two mishaps against these opponents during his playing days. Other former players around the media area were Dave Edwards and Lee Naylor. 

Tuesday, August 22: David Keeling was an unfailingly loyal Wolves fan and keen purchaser of any Molineux-related literature. The programme for the Brighton game informs us that he also became a super benefactor by leaving a six-figure sum to the club’s academy in his will. Despite living in Buxton in North Derbyshire, David, who died in November, 2019, three days before his 86th birthday, was a season ticket holder for decades and now has one of the pitches at Compton Park named after him, a small ceremony having taken place this summer around a plaque celebrating his generosity. 

Saturday, August 26: Nice to see that former Wolves youngster Scott Malone and Kenny Jackett have reunited at Gillingham, where the latter is director of football. Their spells at Molineux didn’t cross but they were together at Millwall more than a decade ago and the 32-year-old from Rowley Regis did enough during a pre-season trial to earn his opportunity with the early League Two pacesetters.

Alan Sunderland on debut day versus Manchester City.

Monday, August 28: How do we address an oversight concerning Alan Sunderland? Despite a timely reminder from his good mate and former Molineux colleague, John Rutter, we omitted to record the fact the forward turned 70 at the start of July. Perhaps we can go some way towards rectifying our forgetfulness by pointing out that it was 52 years ago this week that the player who went on to become an FA Cup final match-winner for Arsenal made his League debut for Wolves – in a First Division home victory against Manchester City.


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