With the latest hall of fame dinner being held this coming weekend, the Molineux air is already thick with nostalgia. John Lalley encountered even more of it, though, when attending a prestigous ceremony at the stadium to honour many of the club’s finest. Here’s his on-the-spot report.
It’s a prestigious roll of honour that begins with goalkeeper Tom Baddeley way back in 1907 and concludes, for the present, with Conor Coady.
Wonderful players and England internationals both – and they share a notable bond with some illustrious and talented Wolves colleagues.
The plush home dressing-room at Molineux was an appropriate setting for Wolves to celebrate the very special 39 men and women who have amassed 300 or more appearances for the club.
Their achievements cannot be measured, of course, by mere statistics. Some of this group were truly great players, others more functional and pragmatic but all of them gifted performers who have left a shimmer in the memory.
For the ceremony that had been arranged to honour them, a sparkling array of gold shirts adorned the spaces reserved for the present Wolves’ squad. But, for this unique evening, these jerseys bore the names of the inductees of the 300 club and showed the number of appearances made by each individual.
It captured more than 100 years of history, good times and bad, but one common theme endured; every one of these players made a massive contribution to the club and helped form a timeless legacy.
Director John Gough’s engaging welcome speech delivered a potted history of the club and referenced each of the players in attendance or represented. He delighted in relating the hubris that backfired on favourites Newcastle when facing Wolves in the 1908 FA Cup final.
Such was the perceived supremacy of the Geordies that they filed a request for a team photograph to be taken with the Cup prior to the match. It was a filthy day at Crystal Palace – and Newcastle didn’t want their pristine kit sullied in mud!
Second Division Wolves duly romped home 3-1 with Stourbridge-born Alf Bishop – an early entrant to the 300 grouping – starring for the underdogs. His grandson and great-grandson, sitting proudly by the shirt bearing the Bishop name, smiled approvingly.
Maybe Derek Parkin, having reached the entry requirements and then doubled it with his staggering 600-plus appearances, merits an honours board all of his own? ‘Squeak’, with characteristic modesty, didn’t pursue the logic!
Parkin, Coady, Steve Bull, Dave Edwards, John McAlle, Lee Naylor and Andy Thompson were joined by Anne Johnson, Anna Price and Amber Quick from the successful Wolves Women. Broadcaster Jenny Wilkes, having given so much to the female game, looked on with justifiable pride.
Relatives of Bishop, Derek Dougan, Ron Flowers, Jimmy Mullen, Geoff Palmer, Bobby Thomson, Dave Wagstaffe and Bert Williams were all among the guests, Gough being joined by chairman Jeff Shi and his fellow director, John Bowater, alongside sporting director Matt Hobbs. Head coach Julen Lopetegui entered into the spirit of the occasion by sharing anecdotes and posing for a seemingly endless round of requests for photographs.
The gathering concluded with the unveiling of the impressive honours board bearing the names of this elite group of players with room retained for future entrants.
With the short-term imperatives of football these days, it may be some time before the 39 names stretch to 40. But anybody joining this group will indeed be in very special company.