When Wolves were about to embark on their Europa League adventure almost a month ago, our good friend John Lalley cast a fond eye to such campaigns in the distant past and summarised his memories as: “JR in the snow in Jena, Lofty saving penalties, Danny Hegan and Helmut Haller. Also, Mel scoring and the floodlights failing.”
He might have added ‘McAlle goals’ and ‘Chivers nightmare’ but fans of a certain age will still associate with those brief recollections.
The particular story the late Jim Heath had to tell from that run to the 1972 UEFA Cup final will also resonate with so many.
We hark back to that now, with Wolves heading this week for Turin for the first time since their epic win over city giants Juventus at the quarter-final stage 48 seasons ago.
Jim was barely into his teens when Bill McGarry’s free-scoring side were paired with the highest-profile opponents of their run; a side who included West German World Cup finalist Haller and a certain Fabio Capello in their ranks.
Already a lover of a good away day and with an obvious curiosity about travelling abroad, Jim found the pull of the tie just too much….
“My dad wasn’t a football fan at all, so I was careful how I phrased my question when I asked his permission to go to the game,” he told us.
“I just asked if it was okay if I went to watch Wolves play Juventus – I didn’t say it was an away game!
“My mum was in on it but obviously it was a big trip for someone so young and I am sure she was relieved when I appeared again safe the day after the match.”
Jim, a wonderful Wolves Heroes and A Load Of Bull supporter and contributor who passed away in 2012, was immensely proud of the successful Wolves In 20/20 Vision book he wrote in conjunction with Thomas Publications the previous year.
And he used the Twenty Awesome Away Days chapter of his highly entertaining paperback to add a little more detail to the impact the Italian expedition had on him as a schoolboy.
“(It was) the first of what I naively thought would be many trips to the continent to follow Wolves,” he wrote. “It has been my only one – but what a memory! A day trip on a Don Everall coach and a couple of Courtline Airways jets out of Luton saw over 500 fans in Turin witness a magnificent draw as Jimmy McCalliog scored a vital equaliser to set up an aggregate win we secured in the home leg. All this for £18. And we sampled real cappachuno!”