And now, with the dust beginning to settle on the regular 2021-22 League season, we start the countdown to something altogether different…..
For ages, clubs had to suck it up and bring in reinforcements from the reserves if international matches clashed with their domestic fixtures and star players were taken away.
As the decades passed, games were rearranged on an ad hoc basis when countries came calling for a club’s players and now we have the highly familiar practice of there being no Premier League and Championship programme at all for three or four weekends a season.
But change, temporary though it may be, is on the way in the coming months – and lots of it.
For those supporters who are dreading the thought of a summer break, there is the consolation of knowing this is going to be one of the shortest close seasons we have ever known, with the new campaign starting on August 6.
But the down-side is the price to be paid via the fact that everything closes down again for a few weeks, at Wolves’ level at least, at the start of next winter.
Quite what Billy Wright, Bert Williams, Bill Slater and co would have made of the radical rescheduling that will hit the game in six months’ time is anyone’s guess.
But you can bet they would not have believed it if they had been told they would be playing in an end-of-year World Cup in the Middle East and seeing League football suspended for a month and a half in their absence.
For those who still haven’t read up on the smaller detail of what lies ahead for us all, the 31st season of the Premier League will take a break after the games over the weekend of November 12 and 13 and won’t resume until Boxing Day.
That’s around seven weeks without club games, the sport’s authorities having decided soon after awarding the tournament to Qatar that the Gulf region would be too hot for football to be played at any time other than November and December.
So it will be football and winter-time in 2022-23…….but not as Billy and his contemporaries knew it. The skipper and team-mate Jimmy Mullen were summoned, along with Albion’s Ronnie Allen and Johnny Nicholls, for England duty on the day of the biggest ever Black Country derby showdown in April, 1954 – and had to learn later of Wolves’ precious 1-0 victory.
*The World Cup final is to be played on November 18 and, for those who expect to experience withdrawal symptoms in the coming weeks, the Premier League fixtures are due out on June 15.