The Real Thing’s Great But All White Is All Right

Was Strip Change Seen As A Good Omen?

Joe Wilson ‘models’ the change kit Wolves opted to wear in their 3-0 victory at Leyton Orient in the autumn of 1965.

Clubs changing colours by choice – for commercial reasons – is a relatively new phenomenon. But it’s not as new as some supporters might think.

Long before driving the sale of replica kits became a major consideration in the game, Wolves opted for a different look when visiting Leyton Orient in a Second Division fixture as long as 59 years ago.

The home side’s red shirts and white shorts didn’t cause any more of a clash than a trip to Manchester United or Nottingham Forest would have done yet Ronnie Allen sent his men out in all white rather than the world-famous gold.

And the only reason we can offer is that they suddenly considered their second-choice strip as lucky following events of the previous few weeks.

Their appearance at Brisbane Road on October 9, 1965 came only three weeks after the nightmare 9-3 crash at Southampton but what happened in between is relevant to this story.

The first away game after that afternoon of gold shirts and red faces at The Dell was at Norwich, where the home side’s yellow jerseys saw to it that Wolves had to change to all white for the day. And the fact that their first ever visit to Carrow Road ended in a resounding 3-0 victory seems to have spilled over into their thinking for when the skips were next being packed.

An insight into the decision comes from Ron Flowers’s words in his weekly column in the Sporting Star. Not only did he comment on what he regarded as the team’s smart appearance at Carrow Road but he actually bemoaned the fact that a change to all white wasn’t necessary more often.

Could there have been a suggestion from the skipper – or even the squad as a whole – that they should voluntarily change again at Orient?

They won handsomely there as well in the third leg of what proved to be a quartet of successive 3-0 victories. All white was all right again!

We can inform our readers that it wasn’t only the team’s colours that apparently had them looking the part at Norwich. This was also the day that the recently-signed Ernie Hunt proved himself for the first time as a master barber.

“It seems our new colleague carries his clippers as a permanent piece of equipment,” Flowers wrote. “On the morning of the Norwich game, he offered his services to anyone who wanted a trim.

John Holsgrove closes in on Oldham keeper David Best as Wolves battle for FA Cup survival at Boundary Park early in 1967.

“Joe Wilson offered himself as guinea pig and looked so good afterwards that a number of others put themselves at Ernie’s mercy. The overall effect was a smart turn-out all round, what with the neat strip and some neatly-cut heads of hair.”

Numerous Wolves players – and presumably those of Hunt’s various other clubs – benefitted from his expert coiffeuring over the years but some things soon returned to normality.

Wolves’ next away game after Orient was against Huddersfield and they were back in all gold for that hard-fought 1-1 draw.

So, do any of our readers remember whether the club wore all white again on their travels before the games at Norwich and Oldham – one won, the other drawn – in the middle of the promotion season that followed 12 months later? 

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