Wow, How Good Did That Feel?

Epic Victory Ended The Long Wait

Wolves players, including the leaping Raphael Villazan, no 3 Derek Parkin and Kenny Hibbitt, mob Mick Matthews after his goal stunned Liverpool more than 40 years ago.

League victories for Wolves over Liverpool don’t come round too often but, when they do, they tend to be memorable.

Never before had there been a Premier League win against these opponents at Molineux and we have to go back more than 42 years to see when the gap between the two teams in any meeting was as wide in Wolves’ favour as Saturday’s thrilling three-goal margin.

It may not quite be cause for a Norwegian commentator to lose it in reeling off a list of high-profile names – although some regular visitors from that Scandinavian country were in the enthralled crowd at the weekend – but, in celebrating this outstanding result, it is impossible not to think of John Richards, Emlyn Hughes, Steve Mardenborough, Mick Matthews, Stephen Ward and one or two others.

So, is there anything we can add by way of context to a game and performance that do so much to boost Wolves’ top-flight survival effort?

Well, Liverpool had done the League double in this head-to-head meeting for four seasons in a row, they had won at Molineux in the FA Cup as recently as last month and hadn’t given up maximum points at the ground since Matthews scored the only goal of the game in August, 1981.

Put another way, there had been ten clashes of the clubs in League and cups since Wolves had beaten the Merseysiders and, it seems, almost as many borderline big decisions in the Reds’ favour.

But it was never quite a one-way street. Wolves won 2-1 in a televised FA Cup tie at Molineux four winters ago, and much more unexpectedly, by the same score as a visiting and unfancied Championship club two years before that.

There was also that Ward winner at Anfield in 2010 and a couple of pleasing games that saw the points shared, so the fixture hasn’t been a hopeless one.

But to triumph as easily as this, with two goals in the first 12 minutes and then a cracker deep in the second half, was beyond the most optimistic of forecasts.

Wolves scored as many in 66 minutes as they had recently in five home League games and it was back on the dim and distant 1980 night on which Emlyn Hughes netted one of his side’s four that Liverpool had been as humbled as this at Molineux.

One other point, by way of observation, is that Julen Lopetegui’s men have doubled their scoring output without signing what most would regard as the elusive ‘proven marksman’.

They have now hit 12 goals under the new head coach in ten games, compared with six in the ten matches immediately before he took over.

Willie Carr and Mike Bailey, watched by Kenny Hibbitt, challenge Ray Kennedy in the Wolves v Liverpool cliffhanger in 1976. All three of these gold-shirted players scored in Carr’s memorable debut a year earlier.

And did we say that no recognised goalscorer had been added? We should point out that Craig Dawson, who fizzed one in on Saturday with the sort of flourish we might have expected from John Richards or Steve Bull, now has 53 first-team goals to his credit – not bad for a centre-half/right-back!

When we talk about epic debuts, this one is right up there, although Willie Carr’s introduction in a seven-goal demolition of Chelsea in 1975 still takes some beating.

*Tickets are still available for ‘Wolves Icons – The 70s’ at Oakengates Theatre tomorrow night. Click on Wolves Icons – The 70s (telfordtheatre.com) to learn how you can see John Richards, Kenny Hibbitt and Steve Daley alongside Wolves-supporting presenter Johnny Phillips on stage.

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