Seeing Too Little Of Home

A Freak Run With Such Sporadic Sightings….

Wolves v Everton in the late 1970s in the days when the weather routinely took a chunk out of the British football season.

Typical…..just when Wolves home games become fulfilling and profitable again, there is a record-breaking dearth of them.

Two Molineux clashes, a full five weeks and two days apart, have brought six points out of six – and now we must wait almost another three weeks for the next one.

This is a serious imbalance in the fixture list, although there might have been a levelling-out had the club still been in the Carabao Cup or even in Europe.

We have looked back to when such gaps between home fixtures last occured and can find no trace – postponements apart – of anything similar in the last 60 years, although international weekends were very much a rarity then.

Yes, previous generations of the Molineux audience have had to endure longer breaks in getting their ‘fix’ but only when games have been called off, usually because of the weather and, in the unique 2019-20 campaign, because of the ravages of the pandemic.

And, bizarrely, Everton have featured more than once in the past in the ending of the long wait.

In 2010-11, Mick McCarthy’s side went a month and three days with away games and blank weekends only from March 6 until the Merseysiders arrived on April 9 and handed out a 3-0 beating.

An Arctic February under Sammy Chung’s management in 1978 saw to it that they signed off on January 21 with a 3-1 victory over the same opponents and didn’t play again in front of their home supporters until drawing 3-3 with Norwich on March 4.

There were only three games in that time, though, and the realisation that the weather played a big part was also evident in 1981-82 when from beating Stoke 2-0 on November 28, Wolves didn’t play at home again until an FA Cup defeat against Leeds on January 2 and then a League loss against Everton on January 23. The record books show that they played only twice in December of that season.

A fourth-round exit from the FA Cup at Wycombe helped condemn Dave Jones’s team to an exact calendar month without a home game in 2000-01 in between a visit from Gillingham and one from Nottingham Forest on the third of February and third of March respectively.

The club had also gone without a home game from February 1 to March 8 in 1986 in between Molineux clashes with Bolton and Rotherham but heavy snow in that period was a factor, as it was in 1984-85 when the stadium gates could remain locked virtually from February 2 (the day of a game against Barnsley) to March 2 (the day of Portsmouth’s appearance in the West Midlands).

Going right back to the early Bill McGarry years, the emphatic win over Chelsea in the Black Country on December 13, 1969 was the last senior game on the famous turf until January 17, 1970 and a 1-1 draw with Newcastle. One scheduled home fixture fell foul of the Christmas week weather and another possible reintroduction to home fans proved elusive after the FA Cup draw sent them to Burnley, where they were comprehensively beaten.

The period from January 20, 1968 (West Ham’s win in these parts) to March 2 (a draw with Liverpool) was also barren after the club made an early Cup exit.

We have already made reference to how, totally unlike this term, the weather in the past could leave Molineux supporters frustrated and we can not let this piece close without mention of the famous 1962-63 season; the one blighted by one of Britain’s worst winters of all time.

John Galley and an airborne Alan Hinton press in the abandoned game against Albion on Boxing Day, 1962.

There were no 90-minute Wolves home games between December 1 (Leicester) and January 19 (Sheffield United), that 0-0 draw against the Blades standing in isolation as their only completed home game in a period of three and a half months up to a 7-0 mid-March slaughter of Albion. The first visit of the Baggies had been curtailed during the festive spell by a major freeze.

The next senior game at a venue at which Bruno Lage’s side have now beaten Newcastle and Everton in succession is against West Ham two weeks on Saturday. It seems way too far away!

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