Today see the publication of a new book, “Wolves In 20/20 Vision” (Thomas Publications) all about Wolverhampton Wanderers football club. A mixture of trivia, anecdotes, facts, figures, memories and bar room analysis the book contains plenty of material to get Wolves fans misty eyed and nostalgic as well as creating much to discuss and contemplate.
To celebrate the publication we at the Ark are going to serialise a small section of the book, featuring three chapters and five stories each time to give you a flavour of its content over the next week.
At this point I must declare our own self-interest as it was put together by yours truly with much support from Glen. Either way I hope this does not distract from your enjoyment! To kick-off this weeks series is the chapter entitled “Twenty Hot Controversies”. Well here are five of them:
Peter Knowles Quits Football
The one-time play-boy stunned Wolves when he retired in favour of being a Jehovah’s Witness. The brilliant England under-23 inside-forward was tipped to make the 1970 World Cup squad but played his last match just before his 24th birthday in a draw with Nottingham Forest. Even a protest led by a posse of fit girls couldn’t produce a change of mind, Knowles’s extrovert image having been underpinned when he kicked the ball out of the Portsmouth ground to celebrate a goal – and was promptly sent the bill. Billy Bragg later immortalised him in a song God’s Footballer.
Following two early-season dismissals in 1969, at Sheffield Wednesday and at home to Everton, Derek Dougan was given what felt like an unprecedented eight-week ban by the FA. His case was not helped as the second of the sendings-off, meted out by Maidstone referee Keith Walker against the high-flying Merseysiders, was for swearing at a linesman and sparked a mini-riot on the North Bank. It seemed like the end of our world.
Badges Create a Stir
Despite inspiring Wolves’ revival from near-oblivion and signing Steve Bull, Graham Turner was not popular with all fans at the time of his appointment. Many then grew restless a few years later at the lengthy consolidation in the second tier and, to reflect the absurdity of a split camp, A Load of Bull produced two badges – one saying ‘Turner Must Go’ and the other proclaiming ‘Graham Turner’s Gold and Black Army.’ The club weren’t happy and secretary Keith Pearson accused the fanzine of being cheeky little monkeys.
Andy Gray Leaves Under a Cloud Again
When Everton cherry-picked Andy Gray for a mere £250,000 from debt-stricken Wolves in 1983, there was uproar. Fans believed his market value was at least three times that high. This belief was underlined when he was key in helping Everton win the Championship, FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup. Some 28 years later, the 1980 League Cup final scorer and match-winning hero was sacked from his lucrative analyst’s position with Sky Sports for making sexist comments about assistant referee Sian Massey on the afternoon of Liverpool’s visit to Wolves during 2010-11.
This is THE Shirt
Wolves fans are rightly proud of their club’s distinctive gold and black colours, even if the former seems to have been loosely interpreted by some to include all variants from yellow to French mustard, with a detour to orange en route. But mess with the kit at your peril. The previewing of the 1992-93 strip – a horrible concoction characterised with what can only be termed dirty tyre marks – was followed by an almighty uproar, coupled with a protest campaign led by Wolves fanatic Gwilym Machin. The club persevered with the design, which was said to be a commercial disaster.
Next up: “Twenty Magic Numbers”
“Wolves In 20/20 Vision” Jim Heath (Thomas Publications) retails for £9.99 and is available from Wolverhampton Wanderers club shop and on-line at www.wolves.co.uk
Order directly from the publisher here for author signed copies and free p&p
Also available at West Midland branches of Waterstones and WH Smiths. Please ask your local book shop for it.
Part two of this mini-serialisation is here