DSA Appeal Bike Ride

My name is Stuart Alves, MBE, but Wolves Blog readers might know me better as StuWolf. 

Stu Wolves bike ride

Like all of you, I’m a massive Wolves fan. My wife Jenny and I are season ticket holders and regularly attend away games and U21’s matches.

In January I joined the Wolves Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) as an able bodied member to try and improve conditions and human rights for our Disabled fans – both at Molineux and when visiting away grounds.

This is a cause I feel passionate about and well qualified to support following 33 years with the Staffordshire Emergency Ambulance Service.

I also ran a very successful Charity from 1999 until 2013 after being asked to take part in a Government project to assist the former Yugoslavia in Sarajevo during the first ever Bosnian conflict at the request of the then Prime minister John Major.

My charity has since donated and delivered some £8.5 million of Humanitarian aid in the form of Ambulances, Hospital equipment and medical supplies to the peoples of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Nigeria and Ukraine. This, in case you were wondering, is why I was awarded my MBE.

Anyway, that’s my potted history. Back to the matter at hand…

Last year I made a decision that I wanted to cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats, so this year on July 24th and over a period of 14 days, I’m going to do just that, raising money for the Wolves Disabled Supporters Association (DSA).

This will entail cycling an average of 70 – 80 miles per day and a distance of around 1020 miles in total. As a 63 year old supporter with a very fragile heart (from being a Wolves fan) this is no easy task, but it’s a long time personal goal and a great opportunity to raise funds for a wonderful cause.

My hope is that the money will help the DSA establish their Association, gain a better quality of life and enjoy a more comfortable viewing experience at our beloved Molineux.

I am asking all Wolves management, players, staff and fans near and far to find it within their hearts to think of our disabled supporters who like all of us enjoy attending games, but who often have to suffer harsh and uncomfortable conditions.

The Wolves Disabled Supporters Association and the fans Parliament are working alongside Wolves FC to see what can be done. From experience, I know more could be done if we could find funding.

As part of my medical teaching role I was fortunate enough to work with the Porto FC Doctor at the Man Utd European Qualifying game a few years back, when I saw the luxurious conditions afforded to their disabled fans. It left me speechless, but that experience has only made me more determined to help our guys & girls with basic Human rights.

Please I beg you, if you can find it in your hearts, help me support these wonderful fans of ours. Our big claim to fame is “that we are a family club”, I have seen such generosity from Wolves supporters over the years for numerous causes, there surely can be no better cause than this one.

And that means all of us, able bodied or disabled alike we all share the same passion – The Wolves. It’s just that some of us have had to endure hardships able bodied fans cannot comprehend just to watch a game.

Thank you in anticipation, we’ll be setting up forms for sponsorship (ask me in the comments if you’d like to help collecting) or you can simply send donations directly to the Wolves Disabled Supporters Association.

Yours Sincerely

Stuart Alves, MBE
Wolves Fan since Autumn 1961

Wigan Athletic 0 Wolves 1

Whatever transpires next weekend, Wolves can feel proud they went the distance.

Afobe Wigan

It’s only a slim chance, but it’s still a chance if they can overcome Millwall and rely on an unlikely sequence of events elsewhere.

Sadly, good fortune has been in short supply this term.

Kenny Jackett reiterated his side will be unlucky if they hit the 78 point mark and fail to land a play-off position and the record books confirm that assessment.

I went back 20 years and can’t find a single instance of any team amassing such a high total and not making the top six.

Even the 75 points already on the board would more often than not be enough to extend the season, putting Wolves’ efforts to date into clearer context.

Grinding out this narrow win over a team with nothing to lose speaks volumes about the character of the team Jackett has assembled.

And his most valuable acquisition yet looks like being the most recent – Benik Afobe.

The striker’s 32nd goal of the season made sure his side carried the fight to the final day. Without his January arrival, they’d have been written off weeks ago.

At the other end of the pitch it was Richard Stearman’s experience and commitment to the cause that helped ensure one goal was enough.

Regardless of the club’s divisional status, his presence will be crucial again next season in helping advance the development of Iorfa, Hause and Ebanks-Landell.

All three got on the pitch yesterday and another cleansheet is testament to their huge potential.

So onto Molineux we go for that all too familiar final day feeling of being one agonising step behind.

Chances are we’ll leave disappointed again but perhaps with a sense that there are better times ahead.

Highlights

Wigan Athletic Vs Wolves Preview

You could be forgiven for thinking the season ended last weekend.

Wolves Wigan

Post Ipswich, most of the talk has been about planning for next year and coming back stronger.

I hope that hasn’t transferred to the players.  Yes, Wolves are now an outside bet, but they’re still a bet.

As we saw last weekend with Derby and Brentford’s results against bottom half opposition, nothing can be taken for granted.

Forest and Blackburn won’t roll over for Ipswich, so it’s vital that Wolves do their bit and win both of their matches.

Wigan

1024px-Wigan_Athletic.svgThe Latics come into the game still with an outside chance of survival. They’re five points off safety with two games remaining.

Interestingly, even a third bottom finish could see them safe if Rotherham have points deducted for fielding an ineligible player.

The DW has been the most prosperous venue in the Championship this season for visiting clubs. Wigan have only managed three home wins all season, losing 11.

Scoring goals has been the principle issue. With just 18 scored at home and 39 in total, only the two clubs sandwiching them inside the bottom three have managed fewer.

Giving Malky Mackay the flick so close to the end of the season suggests they’re already looking ahead to a rebuilding job.

Wolves

I was critical of Kenny Jackett for not changing things in that frustrating second half against Ipswich. Wolves team Wigan

What I probably would have done for the final 20 minutes or so was withdraw one of the strikers and put an extra midfielder on, only because we simply couldn’t get the ball forward.

The problem Kenny Jackett has is that when names a team like the above, Wolves already have their best attacking players on the pitch. But sometimes personnel have to be sacrificed to improve the system.

Danny Batth is out for the season, which has been greeted by a mixture of responses. For me, he’s been reasonably consistent, save for the odd wobble. A 7/10 campaign I’d say.

It will be interesting now to see how Hause, Iorfa or Ebanks-Landell slot in alongside Richard Stearman. All offer more pace and physicality than Batth but lack experience.

The gaffer

Predictions

Winning both games is now the absolute minimum requirement. The ideal would be to win both handsomely in an attempt to overhaul Ipswich’s goal difference. That’s probably ambitious though.

I think it’s to our benefit that Wigan will go all out for the win, as it should ensure an open game, which suits Wolves down to the ground.

If the spaces are there, I’d like to think we can exploit and outgun a team struggling for goals.

3-1.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves 1 Ipswich Town 1

Good old MM can always be relied upon for a decent soundbite.

Ipswich disappointment

And his typically dour summary of yesterday’s proceedings was more or less bang on the money:

“Wolves were in the ascendancy in the second half but we have had a great, stubborn, belligerent, professional performance – all those horrible words people don’t like in football but I do because you win games and win leagues by doing that.”

Ipswich didn’t win the game and they aren’t going to win the league, but this result probably means they’re going to come out victorious in the race for sixth position.

Predictable is the most appropriate adjective I can summon to describe a first half that saw Wolves huff and puff and Ipswich coast into the lead from a set piece.

Mick couldn’t have scripted it better as his effervescent rabble suffocated the opposition’s passing game and kept their best players on the periphery of the action.

Afobe could barely get a touch, Sako was crowded out and McDonald played most of his football inside the defensive third of the pitch.

Only Nouha Dicko looked like breaking the stranglehold, ably supported by the odd marauding dash from Dominic Iorfa.

Ironically though, despite Kenny Jackett’s rebuilding efforts over the last eighteen months, it was two relics of the McCarthy era who made the most decisive contributions at either end of the pitch.

First Richard Stearman got up highest to nod in Ipswich’s opener (under pressure from Tommy Smith), before Dave Edwards saw a fine volleyed effort hit the outside of the post.

Edwards was probably Wolves’ most effective player in a game where hard graft counted for more than than invention and craft.

But the unpredictability of Rajiv van La Parra and the predatory instincts of Benik Afobe offered salvation.

Kevin McDonald threaded the pass for the Dutchman to wander into the box and see a deflected shot loop up for Afobe to plunder.

Goal 31 of the season for the striker should have been ignition and lift off, but Wolves simply spluttered and stalled. The tank was empty.

Kenny Jackett watched on from the sidelines, curiously opting to leave them running on fumes. Surely there should have been greater intervention from our head coach?

His only roll of the dice was to withdraw van La Parra, who for all his lapses of judgment looked like the most likely route to goal. James Henry did little.

Kevin Doyle and Michael Jacobs may or may not have offered the required variation, but was it not worth the gamble with clock running down?

Without the impetus of fresh legs, McDonald’s tired cross shot at the death was as close as Wolves came to a winning goal and that was that.

Full time, handshakes all round, disappointed faces and the uncomfortable sense that it was all just too routine for our former boss.

It’s not over yet say the more optimistic amongst us, but to most of the fans trudging away from Molineux in the glorious April sunshine, it felt like the end.

I hope to be proven wrong.

Highlights

Wolves Vs Ipswich Town Preview

Let’s face it, we always knew it would come down to this.

Ipswich

Even way back in August, a cursory glance down the fixture list had this game earmarked as a seismic encounter.

It’s the business end of the season. It’s Molineux. It’s McCarthy. It’s massive.

Make no mistake about it, however things pan out in the two games to follow, this is our cup final.

And as much admiration as I’ve got for what Big Mick accomplished in his tumultuous five year affiliation with our club, I would love it if we beat him. Love it.

Ipswich

Ipswich logoMM has done exactly what everyone thought he’d do at Ipswich, which is to say he’s made them a serious proposition again.

They’re not Bournemouth or Derby or Watford, they don’t boss possession nor do they employ a sparkling pass and move approach.

What they are is a highly experienced squad full of proven Championship performers who can be relied upon to carry out the manger’s orders. And that efficiency continues to serve them well.

Portman Road has been a fortress but their away record is the weakest of the top eight. That said, if they win tomorrow, it will be a mirror image of their opposition’s – not that I want to tempt fate.

The danger man is unquestionably Daryl Murphy and his 24 goals have been a major driving force behind the Tractor Boys’ success.

Familiar foes on the field like Stephen Hunt and Christophe Berra will also be rather keen to get one over on their former employers, so Wolves need to be ready to combat that enthusiasm.

Wolves

Kenny Jackett must have been pulling his hair out in midweek. Having sacrificed an attacker to keep things tighter in midfield, he then watched his side fall apart inside the opening 10 minutes.

Wolves Boro

I’ll be gutted if both Afobe and Dicko aren’t unleashed tomorrow. I desperately want to see them give our old mate Christophe the runaround.

I think if we’re too passive and allow Ipswich to stifle the game in the first half, they’ll use all that experience and know-how to suffocate us.

Wolves need to get ahead and keep forcing the issue. I don’t think Ipswich will offer many surprises. They’ll close down spaces, keep things compact and get the ball forward early.

It’s up to the home side to combat those things and be better on the ball. If they can do that, they’ll win. If they don’t, they’ll be disappointed.

The gaffer

Predictions

We’re not just playing Ipswich tomorrow, we’re playing our past. McCarthy, TC, Hunt, Berra, percentage football, putting in a shift, blah, blah, blah.

It was great at the time (apart from the last bit), but ever since Wolves have never been entirely able to emerge from the shadows of that era.

Winning tomorrow and ultimately ousting Ipswich from the top six come May would, in my eyes, finally see those particular demons exorcised.

For that reason, I can’t remember many games in the last few years I’ve wanted to win more than this one.

And anything but a win will feel like a crushing disappointment. A point probably isn’t good enough.

I have to predict we’ll win because I have to believe we’ll win. Please, please, pretty please, make it happen lads.

3-1

Up The Wolves

Middlesbrough 2 Wolves 1

Just when Wolves fans were daring to make comparisons to Jones and McCarthy’s great promoted sides, they might be thinking of Colin Lee right now, when seventh placed finishes were mandatory.

VLP boro

Back in the late 1990s, engineering palpable disappointment was an artform, with Keith Curle penalty misses (against Blues and WBA) still vivid in the memory when a play-off berth was virtually unavoidable.

At 1-2 against high flying Middlesbrough, Rajif van la Parra did his familiar open-goal-miss routine to assume that same seminal air.

To blame the Dutchman for what we should expect from experience would be unfair, as the entire team appears to have completely frozen when the ultimate prize came into focus.

Just like 1999 – and so many other seasons in between – it’s the hope that does for you.

Any team harbouring serious hopes of promotion simply does not commit the maddening levels of harry-carry that we’ve managed over the past three games, including our Leeds late show.

· Pathetic marking away at St Andrew’s and failure to win the second ball to concede.

· Golbourne suicide thereafter.

· Stearman muddle at Middlesbrough.

· More slack play for the second.

· And that van la Parra miss when it was easier to score at 1-2.

Individually and collectively over 180 minutes, this team has confirmed my worst fear that has lingered all season…

…That we’re too mentally weak to ever seriously contend for promotion.

Leeds aside, we have an unerring losing record when conceding first and we start games way too slowly when they really matter, as if startled rabbits in the headlights (Ipswich and Bournemouth away both spring to mind)

All this isn’t to say that the team hasn’t done fantastically well this season, or exceeded all expectations for that matter.

They’ve surpassed my wildest dreams and Kenny Jackett deserves a medal – and a warchest for next season – for all of his hard work.

It’s just a crying shame that this virtuous team’s ultimate fate will, in all probability, be so similar to those late 90s Wolves losers who I really couldn’t care less about.

All this isn’t to say we can’t still make the play-offs with three games left.

We can! But being as this is Wolves we’re talking about and Mick McCarthy is swaggering into town next, you just know what the outcome will be.