Stan Cullis once said ‘You only have the one life, and I gave mine to Wolves‘.
Our greatest ever manager probably isn’t alone in that respect. Over the years I’ve heard tales of extraordinary dedication to our famous old club.
But perhaps none that rival Peter Abbott’s record of not missing a single home match for 37 years, prior to this season’s clash with Coventry.
An unfortunate double-booking with his stepdaughter’s wedding brought the curtain down on what was an astonishing run of consecutive attendance.
Such was the magnitude of his achievement, it became national news. And it was upon reading about Peter on the BBC website that I knew I had to line up an interview. He was kind enough to answer some questions in between his various road trips.
First things first Peter, as statistically Wolves most dedicated supporter of the last 37 years, please tell me you’ve heard of Wolves Blog?
Yes, have heard of the Wolves Blog however with heavy work commitments and of course fitting-in the Wolves games, no time to read it regularly – sorry!
I suppose we can let you off, but don’t forget we’ve got a splendid mobile site 🙂 What most people find so staggering about your record is the fact you drive all the way from Ipswich. How do you constantly summon the energy for such a long slog over to Wolverhampton?
Been travelling for years of course – firstly by train with London Wolves, then more by car once I moved to Essex and then from Suffolk – always excited about the day and watching the Wolves. Currently around 170 miles each way to home games and I’ve never lived nearer to Molineux than a 300 mile round trip.
I admire your gusto sir. You must have one hell of a radio in that Astra. What do you like to listen to?
Mostly the usual sports channels – 5 Live and TalkSport – WM on the way back after a game although that gives up the ghost around Northamptonshire.
Not before you’ve heard the post-match musings of Tonka I hope. Tell me about your standard matchday ritual for a home match.
Up early – always like to be in Wolves by between 10 and 11 for a Sat game and by 4 for a midweek home game – away games vary although again still like to set off early – don’t like hold-ups etc. Then it’s a wander around the ground, club shop, town, etc., breakfast, pub – Great Western currently – and meet with Daventry or London Wolves to chat all things Wolves!
I don’t even get out of bed until 10 on a matchday. Am I correct in thinking that you’ve actually only missed one other game prior to Coventry (home or away) since 1976?
Yes. In that same time period, I set off with London Wolves to the last game of the season, away at Blackburn on 1 May 1985 however with a train crash the night before ahead of us, they changed our train and that subsequently broke down with then no chance of making Ewood Park. Nevertheless – and this is why I will always remember the date – I got off lightly in only missing a game as it was the day of the Bradford Stadium fire in which 56 fans died.
Logistically speaking, how do you manage to get to so many games? You must really have to juggle your working/social/family life? Didn’t poor health ever come close to taking you down?
Yes, lots of juggling family and work commitments, although as you know, in that sense, I failed when Sarah and Jono got married on the day of the Coventry game a few weeks back. Been close to getting held-up a couple of times over the years, however somehow always managed to see every minute of all the games in that period. Illness hasn’t gotten me yet!
That’s an amazing run of good health Peter. You remind me of Bruce Willis in that film Unbreakable. Have you seen it?
Off hand, I can’t remember that particular Bruce Willis film however watching Wolves could always be described as an incredible journey; both an obstacle course in getting to/from games as well as the amazing catalogue of ups and downs on the pitch. Honestly can’t think of anything other than the odd sniffle over the years and obviously no physical injuries.
At what point did you realise you’d wracked up such a considerable run of fixtures? Was it a light bulb moment or something you just became increasingly aware of?
I guess, I became increasingly aware of the number of successive games as the years went by. Other Wolves fans asked me about it and the numbers just went up and up. Friends.
Have you always stood/sat in the same part of the ground or do you move about? How would you describe yourself as a fan? Loud and opinionated or quiet and reserved?
Loved it in the old North Bank and of course had to move to the South Bank during the Bhatti Bros era and as the ground was slowly being condemned. Moved to the newly built north bank then the Billy Wright from day one and same seat since. I’d say I’m closer to opinionated and I hope very supportive.
Do you know of any other Wolves supporters who’ve come close to your attendance record?
I am aware of a few Wolves fans in and around Wolverhampton who rarely (if ever) miss – Tony ? comes to mind – and there are also around half dozen London Wolves fans who try to get to every game although there will be misses in their records for whatever reason. What you must also remember is that I have always managed to get into every Wolves game where NO tickets were available for away fans due to ground bans, etc. – approx. a dozen in that time, list available – and a lot of, certainly those Wolverhampton based, supporters failed to see those games.
That is unbelievable commitment Peter. Here are some quickfire questions to end on.
· Best Molineux moment? Winning the Championship in 2009 then Survival Sunday, 3 seasons later and Stephen Hunt’s late goal of course – beating Leicester after coming back from 3-0 down in Oct 2003 – thinking back to earlier times, other promotion seasons and in particular, qualifying for the 1980 League Cup Final by beating Swindon in 1980 comes to mind – and to be honest, although it might not seem like it sometimes, there are many great moments to smile about…
· Worst Molineux moment? Losing 5-1 to the Albion of course – as well as all other defeats at their hands – and Blues – different relegations and I guess the most depressing times were during the Bhatti era mid-eighties
· Best player? Far more than you think over all those years – it all started for me with the Doog, John Richards, Dave Wagstaffe, Ken Hibbitt, Hughie Curran, etc then onto Parkes, Palmer, Parkin, et al – in modern times, of course the Bully and Andy Mutch partnership was nothing short of magnificent…
· Worst player? Wouldn’t like to name names here and to be fair, many performances in the Bhatti era tainted many a promising career…
· Most underrated player? Again, many names could fall into this category over such a long period…
· Best manager? Got to go for Graham Tuner by getting Bully in and for then pulling us out of the mire of the lower divisions and more recently Mick McCarthy tremendous record of getting us to the Premier League and keeping us there, if only for a short while.
· Worst manager? I really didn’t want nor like Glenn Hoddle at the club
· Favourite home shirt? My preference is always the plain gold and black, no stripes and certainly no tyre marks! I do have a problem with most away shirts, prefer simple, plain white and then worn as little as possible – we have the most fantastic and recognisable home kit colours in the world – stick to it!
· Best chant? Always loved the Liquidator and of course Those Were The Days does it for me.
Thanks for your time Peter and congratulations again on a fantastic display of support. Wolves Blog salutes you!
You can follow Peter on Twitter @abbswolf.