Sir Jack: Why words are never enough

Writing a tribute about Sir Jack Hayward OBE should be the easiest task in the world for a Wolves fan like me.

Sir Jack

Doing justice to Sir Jack Hayward at the same time is an entirely different proposition altogether.

For all the eulogies over the past fortnight about our most lovable owner of all, none seem to have hit the spot in quite the way he touched my heart.

While daily news snippets about his selfless, humble and generous nature are welcome, they say nothing that I didn’t already know.

Then there’s those endless reflections upon 2003, and a condensing of his entire legacy into one hazy Bank Holiday in Cardiff and a solitary season in the Premier League thereafter.

Maybe this will be Sir Jack’s enduring legacy. And if an epitaph has already been written, then maybe it will allude to that sunny day in May when his thumbs were in the air.

That’s not how I’ll remember him. No thanks all the same.

I’d been a Wolves fan for three years when Sir Jack Hayward stood on the South Bank terrace with us Lost Souls and embarked upon a journey to define my adolescent years.

Looking back, one year in the top flight for all he invested was absolutely criminal, so while a vision of his beaming smile in the Millennium Stadium will be conjured in the minds of many, it won’t mine.

When 17th placed PL finishes are celebrated like an FA Cup final win; when Phil Brown grabs a microphone to sing about such failure from the rooftops, Sir Jack Hayward always gave us something way more wholesome – however ill-fated so much of it became.

Sir Jack Hayward gave me aspiration.

During the time he presided over our once kamikaze club, impossible meant absolutely nothing as he instilled a genuine belief that we could eventually conquer the world. Isn’t that, above a trip to Cardiff or a season in the Premier League, what being a football fan is all about?

He appointed an ex-England manager, brought a colossus cult hero called de Wolf and even induced some (initially embarrassing) fist pumping between me and Dad at the school gates, when Dad ran through my throng of nonplussed friends to tell me we’d signed Don Goodman.

‘The Shit will be stewing over this one!’ Dad squealed.

When I think of Sir Jack, I think of these times and I smile with such blissful happiness that my eyes begin to water.

Dad and I would attend each and every Anglo Italian Cup game because they genuinely meant something back then. For a glimpse of David Kelly. For a look at our ‘Molineux Wear’ kit under lights.

We’d drive to Molineux to watch midweek league games on our ‘seamless’ video walls on some fangled technology called beam-back, from a vantage point so obscured in the freezing John Ireland Stand that we genuinely couldn’t see a thing!

Me and Dad even revelled in an Andy Ritchie-inspired thrashing at Oldham on Boxing Day (1-4) with 5,000 others, because we knew it was a hiccup. It would still get the nationals talking and we had a great day out!

Back then, every game, every detail and every movement that Sir Jack ever made mattered, because of his great intentions. We aspired. We dreamed. That it was an impossible dream made me love him even more.

Failure, as it emerged, would define my very character as much as a play-off final victory over Sheffield United ever did.

In my personal age of innocence, Sir Jack Hayward was my king.

He was selfless, humble, generous and displayed the very dispositions that Dad ordered me to reach for.

He wasn’t David Sullivan or Karen Brady or even Jeremy Peace…

Whether or not those three were ultimately more successful matters little to me.

As young person in his delinquency – never mind a football fan – Sir Jack Hayward enriched my life in more ways than a football club owner ever really had the right.

To say I’m grateful will never do justice.

God bless you Sir Jack.

Wolves 0 Charlton Athletic 0

You might not think it, but there were a couple of positives to take out of this mundane encounter.

Wolves charlton

Namely a third consecutive cleansheet and a seventh notch added to the undefeated streak.

Now up to seventh, the gap between ourselves and the play-off places may have increased to three points, but only six separate Wolves from the top two. It’s all up for grabs.

Yesterday may have seemed a missed opportunity, but the reality is, it could have been much worse.

Charlton deployed and executed an effective game plan.

Having been slapped five nil at Watford last weekend, their objectives were clear from the first whistle – contain and destroy.

Faultless would be a fair description of the visitor’s defensive display. Clueless sums up Wolves’ attempts to break the resistance.

On the rare occasion the force field was breached the delivery wasn’t up to scratch and there were seldom enough bodies in the box.

In fact, for all Wolves huff and puff, the only real chances of note fell to the Addicks, as they picked off their increasingly desperate and shapeless hosts on the break.

Carl Ikeme made a couple of important saves, whilst each individual member of the back four were forced into desperate interventions.

Kenny Jackett attempted to conjure victory with an identikit solution to the previous Saturday, bringing on another forward and shifting Dave Edwards to the left.

On this occasion, it didn’t work – even with Scott Golbourne pushing forward – and robbed Wolves of width.

Rajiv van La Parra was the only effective outlet and despite some neat trickery and the odd burst of pace, his efforts failed to prise open the gates.

Over in Africa, Bakary Sako scored the type of goal for Mali that reminded us why he’s so important to the Wolves cause.

If he was to leave this month, to Albion (can’t see that one happening) or anyone else, our immediate prospects would be significantly hampered.

We can only hope that the player will wait to cash in his chips at the end of the season and the Molineux hierarchy show the same defiant resistance that Charlton so admirably demonstrated yesterday.

The gaffer

Wolves Vs Charlton Athletic Preview

Wolves are the Championship’s form team.

Wolves Charlton

It’s four wins in a row, five wins in six and just two goals conceded in this tidy little run that’s seen us climb back to within a point of the play-off places.

It was a slog against Blackpool, but the team stuck to their principles and eventually picked them apart.

This game could follow a similar pattern, but you couldn’t ask for a better fixture to make it five consecutive league victories.


Charlton logoWhile Wolves have been putting their season back together, Charlton have been falling apart.

During the same six game period, they’re the Championship’s whooping boys, having lost four and drawn two. That includes three defeats in a row coming into this fixture culminating in a 5-0 hiding at Watford last weekend.

Bob Peeters has been given the flick, replaced by another household name in Guy Luzon. Is another untested foreign manager really what the Addicks need to steady the ship? I’m not so sure.

Too many draws has been the problem – 13 so far, which is the most in the league. They’ve only lost seven matches, which is actually one less than Brentford and Watford, who occupy play-off positions.

Top scorer Igor Vetokele caused us headaches at the Valley and he’ll be one to watch if included at the weekend.


Aside from Bakary Sako’s continued absence all is looking rosy in the garden for Kenny Jackett with Scott Golbourne now back in contention.

Wolves team for Blackburn

It’ll be tough for our diminutive full-back to get into the side though with the defence performing so admirably. I can’t see the gaffer changing it.

He may however consider giving Benik Afobe a full debut, potentially pushing the big striker up alongside Dicko or playing him just behind.

Whichever configuration he chooses, I feel reasonably confident we’ll have enough to win, which is testament to the squad Jackett has built.

The gaffer


Logic dictates Wolves should win this game, so hopefully the figures are proven correct and it’s another home victory.

It would be nice to rattle in a few goals, but Charlton’s high volume of drawn matches suggests they’re no pushovers.

Expecting something similar to Blackpool, with an equally familiar result.


Up The Wolves!

One day like this a year will see me right

Now the Molineux has emptied, all the tears have dried and my throat has just about recovered from the shouting, it’s time to reflect on a day that will live in my memory until the minute that I finally unlace my size twelves and hang them on the dressing room wall next to those of the Wolves legends that have passed into history.

I’d like to think they would be between the Doog’s and Waggy’s with Frankie Munro’s and Billy Wright’s close by.

But I’ll probably end up in the boot room with a brush and a tin of dubbin in my hand.

Never mind – I digress.

The day started with the usual excellent Park View brekker followed by a walk across a frosty West Park to get a paper and say hello to the ducks.

At around mid day, the bloggers started to assemble and the bar was soon full of the babble of happy people and their witty repartee.

(I don’t know who they were but we soon got rid of them).

A mix of the usual suspects and some new faces turned up and there was I, like some latter day Fellini, moving among them with my video camera.

Unfortunately, due to a mix up between me and the on-off switch, most of the proceedings were filmed from inside my trouser pocket.

More Frank Spencer than Fellini.

A couple of pints of ‘Shipyard’ later it was off to the Mol.

It could usually quite truthfully be said of messrs Morgan and Moxey that they couldn’t organise a Binge in the Banks’ Brewery, but the tribute to Sir Jack before the match hit exactly the right note and the whole of a rammed Molineux responded to it brilliantly.

All of us in the Steve Bull had to hold up cards to spell out Sir Jack’s name. I think that a fan from Sandwell must have sneaked in because the man in front of me was holding his card back to front and upside down.

The match, as has already been said, was largely frustrating. A couple of notable highlights included a certain ex player getting kicked up in the air and booked.

But it ended in the most perfect way.

If we had scored in the first minute and then just played out the following eighty nine, it would have been a bit of an anti climax.

We don’t do that at the Wolves.

To score two in the last five minutes ensured that we all went home on a big, big high.

I was talking to the PMDG’er over dinner later that evening and she said how much she enjoyed chatting to the bloggers’ other halves.

She suggested that they should be called BWAGS – or BWAGGIES.

I don’t know what you think, Clive, but I reckon Sir Jack would have approved.

Wolves 2 Blackpool 0

For 86 unfruitful minutes it looked like this game would be aptly symbolic of the Hayward era – frustrating.


As was so often the case during Sir Jack’s bumpy tenure as club owner, Wolves showed good intentions but lacked the requisite quality or fortune to get over the line.

Blackpool, who started cautious and receded as the game went on defended the width of their penalty area defiantly and made it tough for Wolves to pick the lock.

But after Dominic Iorfa strode purposefully forward and some neat interchange released Rajiv van La Parra, his deflected cross finally opened the gates for Dave Edwards to profit.

The Welshman had by then been switched to the left of midfield, but even out of position he retains that wonderful appetite to get in the box and score a goal.

That’s four in a week for Edwards, who should have added to his tally much earlier in the game, but dragged wide when clean through.

He can be forgiven that blunder for another influential display, capped with the decisive breakthrough. Unlike his former team mate in the opposition’s lineup he has the stature and the legs to contribute all over the pitch.

O’Hara was kept mercifully quiet, restricted to the odd interception and a handful of well struck set pieces, as his team struggled to find a rhythm.

sir jack

Wolves always controlled the game, but too often neat build up failed to result in a meaningful pass or shot.

James Henry made no significant contribution whilst attempting to fill the gaping chasm left by the absent Bakary Sako.

So often Wolves’ talisman against this type backs-to-the-wall resistance, Sako was a painful miss yesterday. If nothing else, he can at least deliver a decent corner, which three of his team mates seemed incapable of doing.

On the opposite flank, van La Parra summed up the team performance – honest and willing, but never quite good enough.

That was until the final five minutes of course when the Dutchman finally made one of his crosses pay. He now has more assists this season than any other Wolves player, including Sako.

Price and McDonald can also feel pleased about their efforts. The former was continually the man picking up the ball and moving things forward, while the latter played with freedom and creativity.

Largely untroubled, the back four did what was necessary for another cleansheet, but Dominic Iorfa oozes star quality.

Unflappable when defending and ice cool in possession, his every involvement seems to underline what a wonderful prospect the club have unearthed.

Benik Afobe showed similar glimpses of promise in a second half cameo. With the game so condensed in central areas, he still managed to find pockets of space to trap the ball and demonstrate considerable power and pace.

His goal was just reward for both his and Dicko’s efforts, as the forwards were only afforded scraps from the table until the visitors late calamity gave the debutant a tap in.

Molineux, illuminated by lights and choruses to salute one of their own, went home contented that Wolverhampton’s favourite son had been dutifully honoured on and off the pitch.

And although Sir Jack’s time as owner can’t be looked back upon as a great success on the field, it’s clear that the infrastructure he created off it allowed for a bright and successful future.

‘Glad to have helped’ was his modest final epitaph.

But the pleasure Sir, was all ours.

Wolves Vs Blackpool Preview

Would it be fair to say that the game of football is almost secondary tomorrow?


Of greater importance is giving a wonderful man the send off he so richly deserves from a club he gave so much to.

And I’m sure that will very much be the case, as Wolves have consistently proven they always remember one of their own. Which is exactly what Sir Jack was.

As a fan, he’d want a performance to match the occasion though, so I just hope that the players respond to what’s certain to be a passionate, vociferous backing.


Blackpool-FC-LogoAfter the summer that Blackpool had, what’s followed can’t have surprised many. Just past the halfway stage of the season: bottom of the table, eight points from safety.

Lee Clark has got a mammoth job on his hands if they’re to avoid the drop, but there are a few signs that just maybe things are picking up.

The Tangerines have only lost three of their last 10 matches and have taken four points from their two most recent, beating Millwall and drawing with Rotherham.

Away form is a big problem though and they’ve yet to win any of their 12 league matches on the road this season. Hopefully it’s not lucky 13.

Jamie O’Hara is back as the pantomime villain and he’ll want to make a point to the club that opted to freeze him out for over a year.


It was encouraging that Wolves were able to storm back into the game in midweek, but just disappointing that they couldn’t keep the back door shut.

Wolves team for Blackburn

The team probably picks itself, but we now have Benik Afobe as a compelling option in attack. If Dicko’s back is still niggling him, there must be a chance Kenny will throw his new striker straight into the pit?

£2 million is the reported fee paid to Arsenal for Afobe and after plundering so many goals for MK Dons (18 already this season), there should be no doubting his confidence or ability to make an immediate impact.

Interesting that George Saville has been allowed to leave on loan. What a confidence boost for Jack Price, who was shoved out the door when the former Chelsea midfielder arrived. Now the tables have turned.

I don’t know about you, but I love that we’ve got that level of competition and a manager prepared to make big decisions on who goes and who stays.

The gaffer


I don’t think it’s a complete myth that Wolves have a knack of playing struggling teams into form, but I do feel people make more of it than history suggests.

What is definitely accurate is our recent record against former players. We’ve been burned countless times by the likes of Keogh, Guedioura, Davies and Keane to name but a few.

Whether or not Jamie O’Hara has it in his locker to make that sort of decisive impact I don’t know, but he’ll be playing above himself tomorrow.

As Kenny says in the above video though, if Wolves get it right, particularly at Molineux, we shouldn’t go too far wrong. And I don’t think we will this time.


Jack Hayward’s Barmy Army!

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