It started off as an on-field presentation, occasionally switched to other venues such as one of Wolverhampton's best-known nightspots and then became concentrated on Molineux after Sir Jack Hayward's spectacular stadium redevelopment a quarter of a century ago. Still, though, the eagerly-awaited unveiling night for the club's main Player of the Year award has had other homes, such as the Civic Hall in the middle of the 1990s and, in the last few years, the spacious and stylish Telford International Centre. So how many of the recipients can you remember? And you may be surprised by some of the omissions from the 1970s. Here's the complete list and a reminder of who you may have forgotten......
Various of the photos below, especially the more recent ones, are courtesy of Wolves and we thank them for their cooperation. Fans looking to have a flutter can head over to bet365 and either place a bet on the team or on which players will be the goalscorers.
Was pictured on the front of the programme after being presented with the inaugural award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the club's Second Division title-winning effort. He was one of no fewer than five players whose goal totals reached double figures and he appeared in 47 of the 48 League and cup games in that memorable season under Sammy Chung.
A costly sending-off in the FA Cup at Highbury was only a temporary setback in a debut first-team season in which the powerful central defender didn't enter the fray until the December. Such was the impact he made on a side battling to survive and consolidate in their first year back up that he became a regular alongside John McAlle – and even scored against Manchester City.
The Player of the Year mantel passed from one home-grown former FA Youth Cup finalist to another during a season of Molineux transition; the one in which Sammy Chung's long service to the club ended. The German-born Welsh international made a memorable debut in the title-clinching draw with Chelsea in 1977 but started to flourish a couple of seasons later.
There was some stiff competition around in League Cup winning year, not least Wembley scorer Andy Gray and skipper Emlyn Hughes, but it was the striker's compatriot and a third member of Molineux's international set who got the nod from fans. Only in the final two games of the season did the little midfielder lose his ever-present status – what a reliable force he was.
Thank goodness a club on the wane at the start of the new decade had such an accomplished last line of defence. Without the former Blackburn and England under-21 man, the slide might have become faster still. As in the previous season, he played right through until the final weeks (when Mick Kearns had a run) and was a star of the journey to the FA Cup semi-finals.
Molineux's one-time record signing had plenty on his plate in the relegation campaign and carried off his duties brilliantly once more in his only ever-present term at the club. That the 'goals against' column rose significantly should not be interpreted as a slur on his reputation. The figure might have risen much higher had it not been for his heroics.
Promotion didn't only come unexpectedly in local boy Graham Hawkins' first season.......it came with a big smile on its face. The clown prince of keepers checked in at Molineux during a very troubled summer and quickly made himself a hero by keeping eight successive League clean sheets. He remained an ever-present and ended with a cabinet full of individual honours.
The unflappable 'Stokie' was a calming influence in the rise back to the top flight and did as much as anyone in what proved a hopeless fight to keep the club with the elite. Only once that season did he not line up in Wolves' defence – a home draw against Sunderland – and it was back at the Victoria Ground that he and his side said a painful farewell to the big time for 19 long years.
Finding a top performer during the slide down the divisions was difficult but the young keeper was clearly destined for the big time. He became a crowd favourite in rapid time after making his debut in the opening-day home draw against Sheffield United and missed only four games throughout the season in burning off the challenge of previous winner John Burridge.
Player of the Year nights were different in the 1980s but big 'Bruno' was a highly popular recipient when presented with his award by Billy Wright at Eve's nightclub – a venue not unfamiliar with Wolves players going back a decade or more earlier. He was in and out of the side until becoming a regular after the turn of the year as a prelude to what was to come from him.
Supporters Club members chose thoughtfully when going for the dependable defender, who worked as a milkman before becoming a pro footballer and returned to the same round after retiring. He included a belter of a goal at Preston and another strike against Halifax in his native Yorkshire in a season's work that saw him eclipse the newly-signed Steve Bull in the voting.
From early on, it was a case of who is going to be second? Molineux diehards had been longing for a new hero for several years and here was one delivered by the neighbours down the road. Fifty-two goals added up to a stupendous contribution to the double of Fourth Division title and Sherpa Van Trophy and he decorated his monster haul with four of his club record 18 hat-tricks for the club.
Individual honours, as well as goals and international calls, were shared between the feared strike duo and the 'other half' appeared 23 times on the score sheet for the second season running. He was an unselfish, industrious performer and also attracted admiring glances from elsewhere. Maybe this award helped convince him to stay put after his contract expired in 1989.
The Teessider had played at the higher end of the Football League before his move from East Midlands to West Midlands and made light of stepping up with Wolves again for two seasons in a row. With that impressive left foot of his, he looked at home in a division containing his former club, Leicester, among its big hitters and carried off the no 3 duties to excellent effect.
It would have seemed wrong if this award had eluded the man who served the club for more than a decade and went on to play more matches in their goal than anyone else in history. In the first year of Hayward rule, the keeper was as commanding as ever and won admiring glances from beyond Molineux, Graham Taylor calling him up for England B duty in Algeria.
Wolves were in danger of losing their upward momentum but this third year of life back in the Second Division was the high spot of Thomas McNeill Bennett's seven-year Molineux stay. Initially used in Division Three as a right-back, he showed he could fill in as a central defender and a central midfielder as he played 42 of the 51 League and cup matches that season.
There was precious little squad rotation a quarter of a century ago and the midfielder with a wand of a left foot started exactly 50 of the 52 matches Wolves played in all competitions in this latest mid-table Molineux campaign. Mind you, he could run forever and just loved his football. Generous to a fault, he promptly gave his award to the parents of commercial manager Gary Leaver.
This accolade represented quite a comeback by the likeable local boy after he was marginalised and put on week-to-week terms. He spoke to Neil Warnock's Huddersfield just before regaining his place, then impressed under both Graham Turner and Graham Taylor. His long-range fizzer in the FA Cup fifth-round win at Ipswich was the high spot of his memorable season.
More than one award went the way of the former Doncaster utility man in this near-miss campaign – and that was no mean achievement considering the Molineux dressing room contained some big-name, big-money players at the time. He wore no fewer than six differently numbered shirts during the season, ending it with an excellent run in a central midfield role.
It would been odd had Wolves' ultimate goal ace been named Player of the Year only once and he was voted tops again after a year that in some ways represented his second coming. Having gone close to joining Coventry when rival bosses Taylor and Ron Atkinson cooked up a deal, he hit 17 goals during a campaign that was successful for the club on the cup front but nothing else.
Him again! Well, he did deal frequently in hat-tricks. This was another wonderful personal effort from the striker, who responded in style to being handed back the captaincy and told by Mark McGhee he was good for 100 more goals. In a season that ended in play-off disappointment, he moved 23 steps closer to that target, inspired by a first-day treble in an emphatic win at Grimsby.
The captain had eyes for bigger prizes and played all seven games of a thrilling run as Wolves fell one step from a Wembley final in the FA Cup. In addition, he reached the 40 mark in the League after injury wiped out the first half of his debut year at Molineux. Individual honours followed for the ex-England man – also a summer contract bust-up with MD John Richards!
We winced at some of the antics of this hard-man defender, who added an Australasian sheen to the honour for the first time by excelling in his first full Molineux season. Making light of the managerial hand-over from Mark McGhee to Colin Lee, the full-back played almost 45 club games and also started to use his penalty-taking coolness as a route to some goals.
Who can forget those heroic contributions from the popular Frenchman? More than once, they came complete with the sight of him in a bandage, courtesy of the sort of wound he had a habit of picking up in the heat of battle. This fearless warrior didn't only put his head in where it hurt in his own area – his five goals in the season showed he did so at the opposite end also.
Youth was having its say big time at Molineux when fans toasted another home-grown winner in the shape of the Bloxwich boy who would go on to play in the Champions League and challenge for an England spot. Lescott, Andrews, Proudlock, Robinson and others were making their mark and Naylor was blessed with the energy, speed and left foot that ensured he, too, was noticed.
The Scot was a worthy challenger for this award on at least one other occasion, such was the impact his driving, goal-scoring performances had on Dave Jones' team. He was one of the later arrivals among the manager's heavy summer and early-season spending and didn't walk straight into the starting 11. But, boy, what an inspiration he turned out to be.....he was truly golden!
We will never know if the young Brummie's presence in Wolves' Premier League defence would have made the necessary difference among the elite. Certainly, he was a mainstay of the team who finally got the club there after all the waiting and frustration. Lescott was a class act on the run to and through the play-offs – a huge-money England stopper in the making.
This was the last bit of the rise before the Frenchman's spectacular fall from favour. A firm favourite with Wolves supporters as he played a part in the against-the-odds struggle for Premier League survival by scoring seven times for Dave Jones' side, he went from hero to zero by promptly announcing following relegation that Championship football wasn't for him. Au revoir!
More recognition for one of the finest of Wolves' many Academy products came at the end of the club's unfulfilling first year back in the Championship. Although it was the following season that Lescott achieved ever-present status at Molineux for the only time, he excelled for Dave Jones and Glenn Hoddle and signed off with a last-day goal against Sheffield United.
A fitting Molineux reminder of the talents of a man who had spent almost five years at the club and hit a play-off final goal. The Glenn Hoddle era at the club was underwhelming and the relatively modest tally of 12 goals was enough to win individual acclaim for the Scot here. Who would have thought he would still be going strong north of the border over a decade later?
The hugely popular local boy and home-grown star held off several worthy rivals to take the Player of the Year honours in a season that ended in depressingly familiar fashion......he was injured and missed the play-offs. Until then, he had missed only two of the 46 League matches for Mick McCarthy's upwardly mobile side – and both of those were in the spring.
The heroics of yet another keeper were celebrated as the man from North Wales – one more glowing example of the club's prolific player development programme – came to the fore in a big way. Hennessey kept Graham Stack in the Molineux shadows with an ever-present contribution to a near-miss League campaign that resulted in the concession of a miserly 48 goals.
What was that phrase Sir Alex Ferguson used to describe Denis Irwin in their time together at Old Trafford? 'Eight Out Of Ten' could easily have been a nickname applied to this likeable and successful example of the club's concentration at the time on the Irish market, the ex-Luton full-back maintaining virtual ever-present status in the memorable rise to the Premier League.
It was tough in the big League but the man signed in an unsuccessful attempt to bridge the gap for the 2003-04 season was outstanding when Wolves coped much better with the step up six years on. Not surprisingly, there was plenty of defending to do and the former Sunderland centre-half's experience was vital in survival being secured with a couple of games to spare.
Another typical McCarthy signing.....good attitude, on the way up, unused to the big time. Gillingham is where the midfielder had been playing his football but he quickly looked at home first in the Championship and then the top flight and his five goals this term included a precious winner at Villa in the year in which he also won his one and only England cap.
The Euro 2016 semi-finalist became another keeper to wrap his hands round the club's Player of the Year award for a second time when he did his best to stand firm in a campaign that teetered on the edge for six months and then went into a horrible tail-spin. Six of his 40 games over the season were for Wales – evidence that he was also becoming an international star.
In a second successive relegation season – one even more depressing than the fall from the Premier League – there was one bright spot. The enigmatic but gifted Mali international arrived on Stale Solbakken's watch, scored on his debut for the club (in the Capital One Cup) and again on his League debut for them – part of a double-figure goal tally heavily backed up by assists.
League One was hardly equipped to deal with a Wolves side expertly orchestrated by their play-maker, who was duly named in the third-tier PFA team of the season. What a steal it was when he arrived during Kenny Jackett's early weeks! Time is moving on fast – the Scottish international was born in the other season in which Wolves took the third tier by storm, 1988-89.
Hardly anyone bettered the Wolverhampton-born defender's appearance tally of 45 in this successful return by the club to second-tier football. Along the way, he helped keep no fewer than three clean sheets against Fulham, which no doubt partly explains why the Londoners came in the following autumn and signed him in a deal that some at Molineux saw as controversial.
Another coup for the defenders as the dependable Dubliner took his turn up on the stage at Telford's International Centre. Solid displays at full-back during a generally forgettable Molineux season were illuminated by continued occasional demonstrations of his ability to come up with a special goal. Not for seven years had this main award been won by an Irishman.
The talented former Benfica and Monaco man was up and down like a bouncing football at the club's glitzy Player of the Year night at Telford as he was feted for his first English season during several visits to the stage. His 12 goals included some real beauties and lit up a disappointing Molineux campaign in which he also played brilliantly in the epic win at Liverpool.
As the Iberian influence at Molineux grew stronger and stronger, there were some memorable goals in Wolves’ runaway Championship triumph – and then there was that absolute stunner against Derby. But what else would you expect from such a class act? Here is a prodigious talent who repeatedly shows maturity beyond his years. No wonder Portuguese football is in such a healthy state. Thank-you, Nuno. Thank-you, Porto. Thank-you, Jorge Mendes.
A popular third successive overseas conquest after the previous 16 years brought 14 winners from these islands. The tall no 9 is Wolves’ first Mexican and what a player he is! He scored on his Premier League debut, accumulated steadily throughout the season for club and country and made a copper-bottomed case for Wolves to sign him permanently. Chelsea twice, Spurs twice, Liverpool, Manchester United, even Uruguay….he made them all suffer.
From Northern Ireland to Armenia, Italy to Portugal, the brilliant centre-forward was at the goal-scoring heart of an utterly epic Wolves season. With 27 goals in his 55 club appearances in that far-reaching campaign, no wonder he became the first man since Steve Bull in the second half of the 1990s to retain his POTY award. Here’s the proof of what a feat that was….only Paul Bradshaw, in the early 1980s, had previously done so.
This was a tough season for many at Molineux, not least because of covid and the speed with which it emptied grounds. But the twinkle-toed youngster coped superbly, using those exciting advances down the wing to become a regular scorer in a side who took some backward steps in Nuno’s final months. Handed his international chance by Portugal, the former Braga and Lazio player surprised no-one by scoring on his debut.
Keepers have featured strongly as Wolves’ star performers and the bearded giant stepped up impressively when signed in the summer of 2021. His countryman, Rui Patricio, had left a sizeable hole by departing to Roma but the transition was smooth as his replacement won over the Molineux masses immediately. He was a virtual ever-present in his first English season and part of Portugal’s senior set-up along the way.