With Lockdown easing but life still anything but normal, we decided to present this new pre-Europa League draw chat with Geoff Palmer in a different format. How else could we skim across so many varied topics in the time available?
Q: So how are you coping with these strange and challenging times, Geoff:
A: Ok……it’s a hard life watching the football at night and now being sat in front of the Test cricket! More seriously, I was relieved when we were given the go-ahead to start playing golf again a month or two ago. I play three times a week and have had a couple of fourth-place finishes in competitions at Oxley Park since the restart.
Q: I don’t know why it came to my mind that I should ring you just as I was seeing the news on TV about the Ryder Cup being put back a year. I hope you find that flattering! What chance is there of the Wolves Former Players golf day taking place at your club on its rescheduled later date in October?
A: It’s very flattering that you should connect me with an event like that….thank-you! There is no problem with actually playing golf now but a money-raising event like ours relies on the dinner, socialising and entertainment afterwards and that is where numbers would be well down at the moment because of social distancing in a dining room. Steve Daley is no doubt keeping a close eye on developments and will presumably tell us more in a few weeks.
Q: And have you been enjoying the TV football?
A: Of course. Especially Wolves……until the last couple of games particularly. They have done superbly and it was disappointing to lose in the last minute at Sheffield United.
Q: Did you have any experience of playing behind closed doors?
A: Well, it could be pretty quiet playing somewhere like Bury or Blackburn in the Central League! But my main experience was the Tuesday morning practice matches we used to have with Bill McGarry, first team against reserves.
Q: Which team would you be in at that time? And where were the games played?
A: I had stints in both and remember I used to face Dave Wagstaffe when I was coming through and playing mainly in the reserves. It could be a nightmare and he certainly had the ability to make a fool of you if you gave him too much room. But it was a good experience and he wasn’t daft…..he knew Tuesday afternoons were all about hard running in training, so he did just enough in the practice games at Molineux while keeping something back for those.
Q: The Europa League will soon be more on our minds again. Can you remind us of your European experience with Wolves?
A: Well, most of the UEFA Cup games I played in were after we won the League Cup twice, so we were nothing like as successful as this present run or the one in the early 1970s. The lads beat Belenenses just before I made my League debut and I faced Lokomotiv Leipzig one season and Porto the next. It always seemed to be a case of us going out as narrow losers despite really good wins in the home second legs – that also happened against PSV Eindhoven under John Barnwell.
Q: Did you get close to featuring in any of the rounds in the 1971-72 UEFA Cup?
A: No, I wasn’t even on the bench. I was too young and didn’t make my senior debut until 1973, although I attended all the home legs as far as I can remember and enjoyed them a lot. I am excited about Wolves’ prospects now and am sure we can beat Olympiakos at home but it will then be a question of who they draw next.
Q: Burnley away is still to come for Wolves, Geoff……are they your second team, given that you played for them late in your career?
A: My second club is Liverpool. I have had a liking for them since playing against them when they were THE team in the 70s and 80s. I remember going there in the reserves, looking at The Kop when it was empty and thinking it was nowhere near as big as our South Bank. Then I played a first-team match at Anfield and it looked and sounded a bit different! It’s strange to think that we never got anything there with our stronger sides but then won with a Steve Mardenborough goal in 1984 when we really had no chance. We messed up a few pools coupons that day.
Q: Right, Geoff…..be safe, keep working on that handicap (nine) and stay in touch.
A: Will do….and I can tell you there has just been another wicket in the cricket!
*We plan to be back on Sunday with a special Europa-themed article.