Review: Between The Golden Lines

His inimitable way with millions of indispensable words made David Instone a genuine legend to me as a Wolves fan growing up.

He’s still the first name I think of when I hear the title ‘Wolves correspondent’ and were I to name the top three heroes to leave an indelible impression on my formative years, he’d be keeping company with Steve Bull and Dad.

Dad for his love. Bully for his goals and Instone for his words.

Partly due to ‘digital’ not being a thing when the pen and paper ruled supreme and partly due to my burning desire to be a journalist for as long as I can remember, but David Instone wasn’t just a by-line on a back page to me, but a bona fide big deal, whose exclusives can still prompt me to remember where I was when I first read them. (John de Wolf and Don Goodman press conference = Leysters Bus Shelter as Dad picked me up from school in 1994, having travelled to Tenbury Wells to lay his hands on a copy).

Anyway, to commemorate his 16 years as Wolves’ correspondent for the Express & Star and 30th anniversary in the Molineux press box, David has penned his recollections via ‘Between the Golden Lines’ and it goes without saying that I lapped up every word.

Bringing his years with the UK’s largest regional to life – of which I would also serve with much less aplomb – David has triumphantly narrated my own era I’ll treasure most (1987 onwards) and if I could implore you to read one single Wolves book from now on, then this would be it.

Devouring these 256 pages in the time it took a Thomas Cook plane to cross the Atlantic last week, you are reminded just what a crackpot club we were, and treated to some previously unheard sub-plots and stories behind the scoops, with today’s successes under Nuno acting as an inadvertent juxta-position to add poignancy to each failing regime, whether it be Turner, Taylor, McGhee or Lee. Timing, in this rare instance, has surely been perfect for David – and long overdue.

There are too many anecdotes to relay in this attempt at a book review, but the overall impression having read Between the Golden Lines is that David Instone was a stellar, Premier League journalist in all but job title, falling agonisingly short of reporting in it when effectively sacked in quite scandalous – if not ironic – circumstances.

Having covered so many disastrous appointments and exits himself, there was something of the ‘art imitating life’ when his own employers acted with the same impulsive ineptitude as Jonathan Hayward when pulling the trigger. In many ways, fate could only afford David Instone an exit quite like this. Not that he complained, only sounding disappointed when missing out on the Promised Land at the very moment he thought he was there. Something else in common with McGhee and Taylor, at least.

He wrote: ‘By the time Wolves did make it back to Highbury, Old Trafford and Anfield, I was no longer at the Express & Star and by no means covering every game. This, therefore, is as much a record of following the team to Chester, Halifax, Hartlepool and Scarborough as of visiting the big venues. In many ways, the rise from the ashes, the revivalist spirit, the record-breaking work of Bully and others at the unglamorous league basement was MY time.’

Unwittingly perhaps, this book throws up levels of comedy, tragedy and romance on a King Lear scale, thanks to similar levels of hairbrained thinking during David’s tenure along Queen Street. And aside from reliving the gargantuan contribution made by Steve Bull from the press box, Instone’s fractious relationship with Graham Turner – which completely disintegrated by the time the manager resigned – was arguably the most significant moment in his career, as it forced him to sniff out the scoops with GT on mute.

And boy did the scoops arrive, thanks to a vault of copper-bottomed contacts and an insatiable work ethic which all us fans benefited from, if not his own personal life. Again, he didn’t complain.

The one about Graham Taylor arriving was the stuff of legend, as he broke the news before anyone else was even close.

‘We had some high quality sources to mark our card during the search that followed (post Turner)…We had known for months that there was some admiration among the Molineux board for Graham Taylor and I was dispatched to England’s World Cup qualifier away to San Marino in November 1993…

‘…We went big on Taylor’s chances of landing the job when it came up in mid-March, especially as we heard through a trusted intermediary that Graham would jump at the chance. Through our informant, we confirmed the following Monday afternoon that Taylor was coming in as soon as he was back from a trip away. The Express & Star loved the fact that we felt confident enough to write: “Graham Taylor WILL tomorrow be named manager of Wolves.

‘It was so much more powerful than couching it in terms like ‘is in line to’ or ‘is poised to.’ There was no ambiguity. We had the story nailed – a huge one at that.’

Other anecdotes to live in the memory was a similarly stunning bit of work along with chief snapper Dave Bagnall to oust the impending arrival of David Jones, scooping more nationals in the process on a tireless day of work while a match was going on. You felt exhausted just reading it.

Stories such as these, interspersed with tales of maddening short sightedness makes Between the Golden Lines an absolute must-read. Different regimes looked numerous gifthorses in the mouth, it would transpire, including Ian Taylor and Nigel Pearson on a plate from Sheffield Wednesday, while Jason Roberts was even worse, effectively giving him away without giving him a chance, before Roberts plundered seven goals post-Christmas for WBA which ultimately kept us down.

It wasn’t like David was being wise after the events with many of his stories either. His infamous piece about Bully needing to leave Molineux to get the chance of Premier League football was actually quite prophetic, while his cringing at Jonathan Hayward’s attempt at a joke when unveiling Mark McGhee was telling, even back then. ‘And now…please welcome our new manager Dave Bassett,’ he quipped. The perceived dinosaur was yet another to reach the Premier before we ever did, finishing 27pts clear of us when taking Forest up. Hilarious.

Such misplaced irony seemed commonplace back in the day, when just about every dice possible was thrown to get us to where we are today under FOSUN’s brave new world.

Being able to read the past through the prism of today really does make for a compelling read and as a lifelong David Instone fan, I can only thank him for taking the time.

If you like comedy, you won’t be disappointed either.

After a tortuous drive up to The Shay in Halifax in 1986, Instone reflects on a ramshackle press box that greeted him in the bleak midwinter, with no lights where he was sitting.

‘Oh, there are, lad, reet there,’ an official told us pointing. ‘But you have to bring your own bulb.’

‘Out of darkness, cometh light’ sounds about right.

‘Between the Golden Lines’ is a hard-back costing £18.99, excluding post and packaging. For details of how to order email thomaspublications@blueyonder.co.uk or ring 07734-440095.

Comments

  1. Scooped says:

    A review worthy of the book. Don’t wait for Santa to drop off a copy – go and get one now!
    Thanks to David for securing this era of our clubs history in this wonderful read.

       5 likes

  2. Ben Smallman says:

    Thanks pops. Lots of love x

       3 likes

    • davowolf says:

      And what of David’s career since being sacked from the E&S ?

         0 likes

      • You must buy the book Davo. He touches on this. 15 years with national titles, including the Guardian, and a host of other broadsheets. Our loss, their gain I would say!

           3 likes

  3. Dorset Wolf says:

    Sent for one today can’t wait thanks for letting us know Ben.
    Wolves Aye We

       3 likes

  4. theDOOGooder says:

    Another blinding piece of writing Ben.

    Perhaps you should try doing it for a living.

    You got me hooked with your list of heroes during your formative years. I doubt that my remaining son would list me in his top three but that’s another story.

    Great sports writers are few and far between:- Neville Cardus was the consummate cricket journalist and the old Spurs captain Danny Blanchflower wrote a mean football column for many years. And good old Michael Parkinson could write entertaining and informative copy on just about any sport.

    All household names.

    Local journalists are often the unsung heroes of the profession.

    I didn’t really know him but it sounds like Mr Instone was one of those uncut diamonds.

    Thanks for letting us know about his book – it’s gone on my birthday list.

       8 likes

    • Larry Talbot says:

      Didn’t know him, Doog? You couldn’t move for him around here (pre instonet days). Top journo in his day for Wolves and always with his finger on the pulse….unlike nowadays…

      I don’t know for certain what or who or why his tenure ended, but I’ve not heard a good version.

      It’s in the past now. I hope ‘lessons have been learned’.

      UTW

         3 likes

      • theDOOGooder says:

        Living in the depths of Somerset from 1972 and with no ‘tut intrenet’, I relied on National newspapers and BBC Radio to keep me abreast of the Wolves’ misfortunes.

        Oh, and The Wells Journal. Not much coverage in that I’m afraid.

           1 likes

    • You’re way too kind Doog! I do love you! Speaking of Doog, there are a few pages about your cult hero in there, and David’s dealings with him. A complex character it would seem – and a legend. I’m sure your son would think of you as a legend. I do and I’ve only met you a handful of times!

         3 likes

      • theDOOGooder says:

        Cheers Ben!

        Yes, the Doog was a VERY complex character. But I remember he came to give a talk one evening at the art college when I was there and we had a bit of a chat afterwards.

        Always after that, if I saw him walking round town, which he seemed to do quite a lot, he would say hello. Sounds silly but it meant a lot to me as a young whippersnapper and did my street cred no harm at all.

           5 likes

    • marin wolf says:

      Doog

      These comments set me thinking about the great sportswriters..esp on football

      Maybe the sheer volume of stuff written now we are in the era of 7×24 blogging and the like makes it harder for great writers to stand out …

      But for what its worth here’s a top 5

      Hugh McIIvanney
      Simon Kuper
      Arthur Hopcraft
      Martin Samuel
      and last but not least …

      Frank Keating

         2 likes

  5. Prawnie says:

    Spending a few years myself at the E&S back in the day, I remember a lunch at the Black Horse on the B.ham New Rd. with David Instone and the recently departed Graham Lovett (no idea now why I should have been invited) when I sat quietly fascinated as the two of them swapped stories. Dave Bagnall being a top bloke too as I occasionally scrounged a lift to away games with him.
    I’ll be ordering my copy.

       4 likes

  6. Back in the days before social media, Twitter and Facebook the Express and Star paper was god me and my brother would wait in anticipation every night for the paper to drop through the letter box and go straight to the back page reading the reports over and over again………..!

    OH HAPPY DAY’Z even when there was bad news ie our slide down the leagues.

       5 likes

    • Me too mate. I used to love the Pink as well. I’d scour that all evening if we’d won earlier in the afternoon. I remember once they went to print with the headline that Gary Bannister had scored the winner for WBA (when we played them in 1991). Rob Hindmarch’s equaliser was so late that afternoon, it missed the print run!

         5 likes

      • Dorset Wolf says:

        Hi Ben what a paper the Pink that was our bible l did mention to Doog when we played Birmingham at home this season that l was sorting some programmes out and found the Pink addition reporting on Doogs last game against Leeds 1975 it even still had that Pink smell to it.

           6 likes

  7. Clive says:

    Talking of tenuous links, I played Sunday morning football for the Pink, or as we were officially known, The Sporting Star.
    There was nothing sporting about us, and precious few stars!!

    Except me.

       3 likes

    • I bet you made some headlines in that team! If I was 60 years younger (ahem), I could have written up your match reports!

         2 likes

  8. I read a good transfer rumour article this morning.
    If Wolves sign Vinagre, he will be one for the future so Leeds should try to loan him for a season.

       1 likes

  9.    0 likes

  10. Just in case you guys are questioning how seriously Fosun are taking this Wolves “thing”.

    and this:

    https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2016/10/Fosun-Foundation.jpg

       1 likes

  11. OK. Prediction time.
    I predict Wolves will sign Willie Boly.

    OK, now for the serious stuff. This is my prediction and we should bookmark it to see how close I got. I am being serious here.
    I want others to make predictions, too, before the signings begin in earnest.

    Wolves shirt sponsor will be Fosun. Its logo will be either black lettering on the old gold shirt or a black rectangle with old gold lettering (maybe not a rectangle but something similarly shaped).
    Because Fosun’s name is on the shirt, they will not want to be associated with a team fighting for survival at the bottom or even an anonymous mid-table team.
    I therefore predict that they will bring in in the neighbourhood of 10 (or more) players.
    I predict that they will spend over £170 million. Maybe much more
    Ruben Neves will be with Wolves but he won’t be the runaway star. There will be others to match his reputation.
    Finally, I predict a 5th place finish.

       1 likes

  12. Clive says:

    Tim,
    I think you are a graduate of the University of Stating The Bleeding Obvious.

    The only thing you probably got wrong is 5th place.

    Top two or three a safer bet, if not Campiones, again.

       3 likes

    • People questioned my sanity when I stated that Wolves will spend that much.
      And most people are saying Tsingtao will be our main shirt sponsor.
      When I suggested the top 6, others said I was dreaming.

      What I am predicting is only obvious to highly intelligent people.

      So let’s hear other people’s predictions.

         2 likes

      • Lowves from Sweden says:

        Not obvious to me Tim but then I am not highly intelligent like what yo am!

           0 likes

  13. Larry Talbot says:

    You mean Orsen wasn’t a Wolves fan?!

       2 likes

  14. StuWolf says:

    These are the minutes from the “New Fans Parliament” written by David Instone, which held a meeting at Molinuex last night to restructure the group and move forward in keeping with the “New Wolves” we are witnessing.

    Overseas bloggers please note the section where we expressed a desire to have input from International Wolves fan Supporter groups.

    https://www.wolves.co.uk/news/club/20180524-fans-parliament-steering-group-minutes/

       2 likes

  15. Paul Featherstone says:

    Season ticks are going well the chief executive: says it’s a reward the lower price for and commitment and i agree.

    But i don’t think it’s as simple as people being more committed than other people or fans shall i say.

    Look at Clive our Texan Wolf he is not going to get a season ticket for obvious reason because he lives in America.

    In my case work shifts i get 1 weekend off in 4 work nights and late shift 14:00 to 00:00 so to buy a season ticket doesn’t make financial sense, does that make me less of a supporter i don’t think so i go to games when i can and if i didn’t work shifts yeah I’d buy a season ticket for sure Prem or no Prem.

    I don’t think it’s as simple as buy a season ticket or not there are lots of good reasons, genuine reasons why some supporters don’t buy a season ticket doesn’t that mean the club can treat them less I’d say an deffinat no

       16 likes

    • Bedford Wolf says:

      Paul – spot on mate, I agree 100%. I’ve only had a season ticket for 4 years but been supporting fanatically for 57 years. I would challenge anyone, season ticket holder or not, to say they were a more committed supporter than me through all them years. For most of my life I lived 150 miles away (now a ‘mere’ 100 miles away!), had a young family, with heavy work and financial commitments and all sorts so didn’t have a season ticket but I never stopped living and breathing Wolves.

      OODCL

         16 likes

      • Paul Featherstone says:

        Cheers Beds.

        I posted comment because the Cheif E: has said today in the local rag that season ticket holders renewing have been rewarded for ther commitment with lower price I must admit I feel a bit put out by that statement.

        As I’ve said I go to as many games as possible home and away but because I haven’t brought a season ticket does that mean I should be charged extra…….it a difficult one. Another point is how are you going to attract new season ticket holders if you make them pay more because they haven’t had one before……..over to Mr Dalf…!

           13 likes

    • Newark Wolves says:

      I couldn’t agree more either Paul, I have been going to Wolves games home and away since 1978 and have never had a season ticket. We can’t do night matches unless it is school holidays but we go to as many games as possible. Take the season just gone for instance, we were well in to double figures for home games as well as Forest, Southampton, Manchester City, Reading, Barnsley and Sunderland away so I think that is commitment. We don’t travel as far as some but home games are a 170 mile round trip. I would buy a season ticket tomorrow but like others it is not financially viable.

         11 likes

  16. Bedford Wolf (C H A M P I O N S !) says:

    Having passed the 150 mark I have now officially given up trying to keep a list of the players we have been linked with since the season ended just under 3 weeks ago.

    It was when the number of goalkeepers we are ‘about to sign’ hit double figures that I decided enough was enough.

    The only pleasing aspect perhaps is that in many cases we are reckoned to be vying with the likes of Liverpool, Man Utd, Spurs and Arsenal for the same players. Not long ago we’d have been said to be vying with Lincoln, Mansfield, Swindon and Altrincham!

    OODCL

       6 likes

  17. Bedford Wolf says:

    I see that lovely chap John Terry is ready to sign a new one year contract with Villa.

    But only if they get promoted.

    And he would want it written into his contract that he wouldn’t have to play against Chelsea.

    So really committed to the Villa cause then eh JT?

    John Terry. Captain. Scumbag. Moron.

    OODCL

       13 likes

  18. Paul Featherstone says:

    Fulham for me finished 3rd play good football and most importantly give away fans plenty of tickets…!

       8 likes

  19. Clive says:

    I hope Villa DO get promoted then, coz with jt in their defense, its six easy points for us, and everyone else, next year!!

       4 likes

  20. theDOOGooder says:

    Congratulations to Fulham.

    A decent, entertaining match.

    How about a cheeky bid for Grealish?

    He’s a bit of a jerk and he’d have to lose the silly haircut of course but…..

       6 likes

  21. Clive says:

    Bye bye Broosey!!
    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer pratt, except Colin!

       3 likes

  22. StuWolf says:

    The FA are condsidering introducing a new Premier league next season. Steve Bruce and 30,000 other whingers have demanded they do so, as Stoke, Villa and Baggies can form a new Midlands Premier league. You couldn’t make it up. Sepp Blatter is to head it up.

       2 likes

  23. CHEESEBURGER OF DEATH says:

    PARTY JUST GOES ON AND ON…..FUCKIN WOLVES AY WE!

       5 likes

  24. The Witley Wanderer says:

    The Cottagers were always going to be the best footballing side at Wembley. It didn’t help when the Vile didn’t turn up for the first half.
    We warned them enough times to mind the cap, but they didn’t listen and the cap is going to be a monumental divide next season, bring it on.
    P. S. Anyone know who won the Prediction League, the silence is deafning. Roll on August and have a great summer bloggers and I hope the op’ went ok Chris and your fit for the kick off.

       5 likes

  25. theDOOGooder says:

    After watching yesterday’s Champions League Cup Final, here are three players that Wolves should be looking at:-

    1) Gareth Bale. Says he wants to be playing week in, week out. Might get a few starts with us.

    2) Sergio Ramos. Excellent defender and supreme master of the dark arts. Anyone who can perform that intentional wrestling throw on Salah, knowing that he was going to end up hurt, get away without even conceding a free kick – and end up grinning to his bench knowing that it was a job well done, will do well in the Premier League.

    3) Loris Karius. He could maybe drive the team bus… if he doesn’t drop the keys down the drain.

       9 likes

  26. https://www.footballtransfertavern.com/premiership/exciting-times-for-wolves-fans-as-mendes-works-his-magic-once-again/

    “…It’s believed that the Portuguese striker’s agent Jorge Mendes has already initiated contact with Wolverhampton Wanderers, but the offer didn’t match the €31 million valuation of AC Milan…”

    That’s funny. Mendes has initiated contact with Wolves.
    Also good to see Wolves offered less than the asking price, if this article is correct. He didn’t have the best of seasons and his future is a little less bright this year compared to last so his value might have gone down, for now.

       1 likes

  27. Nigeria has named Ikeme as the 24th player. I wonder if he will actually be healthy enough to go?

    (Note to Clive: Yes, I know he will not be playing but will he actually travel there with the club)

       2 likes

  28. Paul Pad...Of the....stow says:

    As write this my fellow bloggers in sitting in The Golden Lion in yeah Pad of the Stow and wearing my Wolves top with pride.

    I passed this Arsenal fan who looked at me with a look of trepidation he must of though i was going to test him one.

    I’m still a bit pissed over those F.A cup Semi defeats but no, I’ll let my team do the talking on the pitch….Hate Arsenal…..Yeah i know get over it.

    Not in years have i see so many envious looks at my colours and long may it continue….!

    Poor Villa…..Big Club. . Steve….Yeah right…Not in the Midlands..Ha…..Ha.!

       5 likes

  29. CHEESEBURGER OF DEATH says:

    As horrible as it may sound I was very happy to see Vile fans in tears on the newspapers. The arrogant twats deserve it. Natural order now restored. Mighty Wolverhampton Wanderers flying the flag for the West Midlands. AGAIN.

       7 likes

  30. Barry Bucknell says:

    I’d like to wish all Villa fans ‘bon voyage’ on their trip to Rotherham next season :0)

       9 likes

  31. StuWolf says:

    Onwards and Upwards Bruccie, up North to Rotherham and Bolton……

       7 likes

  32. Paul....Pad..Of...The...Stow..(on me hols) says:

    Stu……….Any news on kit release..?

       1 likes

  33. StuWolf says:

    Not a peep mate, someone put a spoof one out a few days ago, funny as feck.

       1 likes

  34. theDOOGooder says:

    NEW SIGNING BREAKING NEWS!

    I can now reveal that Fosun & Nuno have been in secret talks with a certain Mr Jack Grealish.

    These were held this afternoon at DOOGooder Mansions, Melksham.

    They were going very well but, unfortunately, the PMDG’er, while serving drinks on the lawn near ‘my lovely pond’, got too near to Grealish and he dived forward screaming in agony.

    We haven’t seen him since…

       3 likes

  35. Witley Wanderer says:

    Doog, can you still hear him? screaming I mean.

       2 likes

    • theDOOGooder says:

      No but I’ve received a few complaints from the fish about the constant carping.

      Did you see what I did there?

         4 likes

      • Bedford Wolf says:

        I fear for your poor fish. With Mr Grealish’s ‘hairstyle’ the poor things must be suffering an oil-slick of Torrey Canyon proportions.

           3 likes

  36. Bedford Wolf says:

    I frequently feel very old these days but today I suddenly feel even older than usual.

    Apparently it is thirty years ago on this very day that we beat Burnley 2-0 in the Sherpa Van Trophy final at Wembley.

    THIRTY YEARS!!!!!!!

    No, it can’t be. I remember it like it were yesterday. 48,000 Wolves fans at the game – I hadn’t seen that many Wolves fans all in the same place at the same time since the 1974 league cup final and after all the years of depressing, embarrassing hurt as we slid down the leagues and got beat by non league clubs in the FA Cup this was a real statement of intent – the Wolves were well and truly on their way back.

    OODCL

       3 likes

    • Dorset Wolf says:

      Bedders l felt the same 30 years were the hell has it gone, what a day better than 1974 1980 league cup finals . We will be playing Burnley next season.
      We Are Back.

         2 likes

  37. Clive says:

    Jack Grealish decided to go horse back riding.

    After mounting the horse and realizing how high up he was, he started having second thoughts.

    He clung to the horses neck and started crying, I mean wailing.

    For 2 hours he stayed like that until an old lady went into the store & got a security guard to come out and unplug it.

       4 likes

  38. Brompton says:

    This made me chuckle. A tad childish but still made me smile.

       3 likes

  39. spikeyboy says:

    I live amongst arrogant vile idiots and I have a ” mind the gap ” t shirt I now want “a mind the division” one
    “Worse than the ALBION your fuckin worse than the albion”
    Now that would be another great t shirt
    My wife thinks I am mad !
    Oh and well done Coventry

       3 likes

  40. London wolves loyal says:

    What’s Ruben Neves doing on love island ?

       0 likes

  41. London wolves loyal says:

    And why is he calling himself Adam ?

       0 likes

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