Flight Of Fantasy

Three Decades On…..The Memories Remain

Strap yourselves in…the sky’s the limit.

Christmas TV is to pay tribute to how Wolves fans embarked on one of English football’s most astonishing away days nearly 30 years ago. 

It was on the first day of the 1990s that the club’s supporters made history by setting off by air for Newcastle and the fixture that is being repeated on the Premier League stage today.

And the holiday programme will be spiced up by a Sky Sports feature on the epic adventure after the broadcaster recently interviewed more than half a dozen of the day’s central characters.   

The work has been done by Sky reporter Johnny Phillips, who appealed on social media for fans to come forward if they had been on one of the eight planes that headed north from Birmingham.

“I managed to make contact with a few of those who had been prominent on the Central TV footage at the time and we had an interview session at the Lych Gates pub in the city centre before the Wolves v Huddersfield game recently,” he said. 

“Most of them are in their 50s and 60s now, although we have also spoken to the guy who was mascot for the day and was only nine at the time. 

“There were some stories about supporters who flew with partners who have since passed away – I think everyone agreed it had been an absolutely terrific day to be a Wolves fan and to be part of this story.

“We have been as well to the home of the organisers, Albert and Muriel Bates, from the Official Wolves Supporters Club and to speak to Steve Bull, who obviously put the icing on the cake with his match-winning performance.”

Bully scored all of the goals by which Wolves beat Newcastle 4-1 on January 1, 1990, in what was their first season back in Division Two. 

And to commemorate his feat against a side containing Mark McGhee, we provide four of our own memories from the day.

  • The Monarch airline stewardesses were wearing uniforms very close to the famous gold and black and were so relaxed on the day that they invited fans to enjoy taking their group photos on the tarmac and then board the planes when they were ready. 
  • The flight lasted 45 minutes……well under a quarter of the time many Wolves fans will spend on the road each way today.
  • Six of the planes were filled by Supporters Club members. Hatherton Wolves also organised a flight and another smaller craft was used by the Gallagher family – then Wolves’ owners.
  • Remarkably and selflessly, Albert and Muriel Bates put up their Penn house as collateral for the mass exodus. They were serious stars! 

The feature is due to be shown on Gillette Soccer Special over Christmas or the New Year. We will try to alert our readers to precise timings.

Ready to board….destination Newcastle.

We apologise that technical issues beyond our control delayed the publication of this story.

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