Picture the scene if you can – sat in my local football cinema shack in Freetown, Sierra Leone, I watch Junior Hoilett dance around Jody Craddock and smash the ball past Hennessey. It’s 3-0 at half time and we’re doomed.
The 50 or so Sierra Leoneans sitting around me knew full well I was a Wolves fan. The title race was all over, and thus the hordes of United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool fans were more than happy to watch and listen to me melting into a one man relegation quagmire.
We all know what happened next. After initially poking fun, my neighbours were firmly on my side as Hunt scored almost at the same time Pavlyuchenko smashed one past Ben Foster at the Lane. Cue pandemonium and tears of joy for the only Wolf in town.
Living and working in West Africa has its challenges. Amongst other more obvious ones – shortages of water, outages of power, ridiculous humidity – I can’t go to Molineux.
You can watch a whole lot of Wolves games on television, however, as the Premier League is more than happy to pimp out almost every game across the world’s television stations.
This is a treasure trove of opportunity for someone who has never had Sky, and whose main memories of Wolves on live telly are still dominated by Bully dedicating the match ball to his newborn son (“ere yo am Jack”) after smashing a hat-trick at the Baseball Ground.
The aforementioned football cinemas are an amazing enterprise. There are usually three bulky televisions set up at the front, often with a different game on each and one commentary blaring out (Wolves games are often on mute, sadly). Watching a game costs you 1,000 Leones – or 13p – which is well worth it.
My personal highlight has to be watching the United game last year – despite arriving after all the goals had been scored – and managing to stay calm and collected until right at the end when all the Arsenal and Chelsea fans in the place started shouting “we are all Wolf…go Wolf” to goad their United supporting peers. Magic.
When I’m not watching, I’m getting regular text updates from my friends back home. It was almost like I was there during the win over the Albion last year, with over 25 messages back and forth. See here for a transcript: http://tinyurl.com/84afq4h
Aside from my own, I’ve yet to see a Wolves shirt here in Sierra Leone. When running along the main city beach, resplendent in old gold and black, almost every person says “Wolf” but often they might say “Kevin Doyle” just to show off their football knowledge.
As it goes, Sierra Leoneans have football knowledge in abundance. You can often hear football matters discussed on the street at a level you would often struggle to get at Molineux, and with relative stability after the civil war they are an emerging football power – I watched the Leone Stars beat Egypt at the National Stadium in August. Of their players, Celtic signed striker Mohamed ‘Poborsky’ Bangura during the summer and midfielder Rodney Strasser plays for AC Milan.
Despite the name of this blog, it seems that I’m not quite the lone Wolf that I thought I was. A friend of mine forwarded me this recently – http://tinyurl.com/7cbsamq – so I can confirm that there is a Wolves presence in West Africa.
I plan to investigate further…and report back to Wolves Blog.
I think I speak for both Ben and myself when I say it’s truly humbling to think that so many people spread across the globe take something away from our efforts. We’re always delighted to hear from you!