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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.