The Cup That Cheers – And Attracts

Memories Of Another Epic Molineux Evening

First Chelsea, then Tottenham and now Liverpool. This is proving to be quite a winter for Wolves.

Sam Ricketts – lying in wait across the Shropshire border.

An ultimately famous Molineux Monday night also contained enough coincidences to satisfy those of us who monitor such matters.

Not only did Wolves match the result by which Manchester City beat the Premier League leaders last Thursday, they ensured the goals came in just the same order as they did at the Etihad Stadium – and at not dissimilar times.

It doesn’t end there…..the spotlight now switches, with every respect to Sam Ricketts and his Shrewsbury charges, to the possibility that Nuno’s men may visit Stoke in round four.

Only two winters ago, Wolves were victorious under Paul Lambert (later to manage for a few months in the Potteries) in a Premier League v Championship tie at Stoke and followed up by winning 2-1 at Liverpool in the next round.

Remarkably, Wolves have won five times out of seven when drawn against the Merseysiders in the competition and, by contrast, have come out of the hat alongside Shrewsbury only once.

That was 40 years ago when they followed a 1-1 draw at a packed Molineux by winning the replay 3-1 at the Gay Meadow.

As if to underline what an event match days and nights are at Wolves these days – light shows sometimes included – we have come up with this ‘team’ from the former players who were on view in the press box, TV studio or on the gantry last night.

We even had a manager present in Gareth Southgate, although he is not thought to have shown his face at any point in the John Foz Hendley media suite.

In 4-3-3 formation, we had among us:

Carl Ikeme: Part-performed the FA Cup fourth-round draw in Wolfie’s Den soon after the final whistle and looked a cool figure even when he was mistaken over the venue for the 5.30pm full rehearsal and almost found himself knocking on the door of the TV studio on the first floor of the Billy Wright Stand!

Andy Thompson: Needs no introduction to readers of this column nor the radio audience around here. Was summarising at Mikey Burrows’ side again and loved the occasion against a side he never faced in League or cup football as a Wolves player.

Jan Molby: Ok, the great Dane might be better remembered as a midfielder but we have taken the liberty of dropping him back to a play-making centre-half in our line-up after he made his second Molineux visit in a few weeks with Liverpool TV.

Richard Stearman: Did a turn on local radio, too, and had happy memories of an FA Cup meeting with Liverpool as he scored the opening goal at Anfield two years ago. Less happy was his part in Sheffield United’s defeat at home to Barnet on Sunday.

Stuart Pearce: Back at the ground where he once managed England under-21s and appeared very much at home with the talkSPORT headphones and microphone. What with he and Thommo and one or two of the more offensively-minded players around him, that’s the penalties sorted.

Paul Ince: Former Wolves captain and double FA Cup winner who was among a stellar cast in the pundits studio. Before the cameras rolled, might he just have mentioned the beauty he struck against Newcastle in the 2002-03 competition? Was also on pundit duty when Wolves prevailed at Anfield in 2017 and predicted that a so-called giant-killing might be on the cards here.

Jermaine Jenas: At the forefront of the emerging younger breed of pundits and is seen plenty on our screens. On a rare trip to these parts, he carried out the summarising role at the side of the excellent Steve Wilson during the Match of the Day Live coverage.

Mel Eves: Another of whom we see plenty at Wolves matches….the 1980 League Cup winner is very much a regular with BBC WM and was busy giving his thoughts again on the downfall of opponents he enjoyed getting the better of more than once as a player almost 40 years ago.

Alan Shearer: The man Incey might have enjoyed ‘needling’ last night while the make-up was going on! Too many honours eluded him, notably when he was a beaten FA Cup finalist in 1998, but he spearheaded Blackburn’s unlikely title triumph in 1994-95 and is a man fit to lead any attack. Has improved greatly in the punditry field in recent times.

Gary Lineker: The long-time Match of the Day presenter was known to hurt Wolves with his goals as a Leicester player in the mid-1980s – and won the FA Cup with Tottenham in 1991. Also netted in the 1986 final, albeit in a losing cause when opening the scoring for Everton against Liverpool.

Robbie Keane: Had to settle for League Cup glory rather than in the FA Cup, that Tottenham success in 2007-08 coming nearly a decade after his recently televised two goals for Wolves in a win at Bolton in the bigger competition. Keane was with Ikeme on Cup draw duty last night.

Robbie Keane……a Molineux boy wonder two decades ago.

Substitutes: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake,who paired up on the journey in with Carl Ikeme and was among the local radio contingent, and Mark Walters, who was again with the broadcast media travelling from Merseyside.

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