Holsy Recalls Wednesday Woe Day

Boro Mauling Meant Survival Was No Shaw Thing

John Holsgrove at Hillsborough with his big hair and footwear! Photo courtesy of Sheffield Newspapers Ltd.

It was one of the most spectacular defeats in Wolves’ history that opened the door for John Holsgrove’s first-team debut for the club.

But the 9-3 annihilation at Southampton that immediately preceded his big chance in the autumn of 1965 was small beer compared with a slaughter the defender found himself on the end of in his post-Molineux career.

Holsgrove and his former Wanderers team-mate Bernard Shaw were Sheffield Wednesday players by the time the Owls went to already promoted Middlesbrough just before the end of the 1973-74 Second Division  – and proved to be mere cannon fodder.

Jack Charlton’s Boro won 8-0, thanks largely to an outstanding performance by Graeme Souness, who scored a second-half hat-trick.

“It was just one of those days,” Holsgrove said. “We were diabolical and everything they attempted seemed to come off.

“I had forgotten Souness scored three but I can remember the quality of his performance. He was brilliant that afternoon.

“I look back at our line-up now and see names like Peter Springett, Peter Eustace, Tommy Craig, Brian Joicey and Peter Rodrigues…..it was a good team.

“That sort of thing happens to most sides at some stage, though. We generally had a good finish to the season apart from that day.”

Wednesday, managed by former Arsenal coach Steve Burtenshaw, even had a Jimmy Mullen in their line-up; not the famous Wolves version of course, but the man who went on to manage the likes of Cardiff, Burnley, Walsall and Telford.

And Shaw slotted in at left-back for them in a game in which home fans – already in good heart after their players had been presented before kick-off with their title winners’ medals – were calling for Jim Platt to venture upfield at set-pieces. The goalkeeper was the only Boro player who hadn’t scored that season.

Bernard Shaw - bad day at the office at Ayresome Park.

Wednesday only narrowly escaped the drop as Crystal Palace went down instead the following weekend, a Luton side containing Bobby Thomson finishing runners-up to Middlesbrough, with Carlisle going up in third.

Yet the Owls had themselves cut loose in the goal stakes earlier in a campaign in which they also caught one other heavy cold.

“Apparently, we lost 8-2 in the League Cup at QPR that season as well,” Holsgrove added. “But I’m sure I missed that one through illness – I think I’d remember if I played in that!

“I had a liver biopsy and all sorts and was out for a big chunk of the season. It was a virus of some description, a bad one of course, and I think I came back (the Saturday after Wolves’ first League Cup final victory) at Notts County in the March.

“We won that game 5-1 and then put five past Cardiff the following week. I suppose those games showed what we were capable of.

“I was very friendly with Bernie Shaw. He could be a grumpy Yorkshireman at times but we were good mates at Wolves and Wednesday.”

Holsgrove’s first four games in Wolves’ senior side all finished in 3-0 victories – against Bury, Norwich, Leyton Orient and, by coincidence, Middlesbrough.

* Wolves Heroes would love to hear from anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Bernard Shaw, although contact details should be passed on to us only if he is in full agreement.

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