Archives for June 2011

A blog for whoever

Oh Matt Mills, oh Richard Dunne, oh Roger Johnson too.

You’ll cost us so much money I wrote this blog for you, wrote this blog for you.

In an ode to a band I used to feel a bit guilty for liking, I’d like to know who you’d love to see in a Wolves shirt from the bottom of your pencil case.

Thomas would be turning in his hammock if he read a tenuous link to Beautiful South, but with absolutely nothing happening right now I thought it would be interesting to pose the following question:

If Wolves were to sign only one more player from now until the start of the season, who would you like it to be from the names we have been linked with (of which there have been many)

If we whittled it down to Bertram, Konchesky, Mills, Dunne, Johnson, Jonny Evans and Sebastien Bassong, which one would you like to have in the team at Ewood Park for the first game of the season?

Cheap, never cheap. I'll write this blog 'til you're ours to keep

Come to think of it, who would you like to see leave as well? While that elusive marquee defensive signing is consuming all of our thoughts, I’m as concerned about the stodgy air of mediocrity around the reserve team that has long been in need of shifting.

With the 25 man squad rule gaining added significance on a seemingly weekly basis, it seems equally vital to shift some deadwood if we are serious about progressing and evolving.

Personally, Berra, Keogh, Halford, Maierhofer and Vokes can now leave the club, while one of David Edwards and Nenad Milijas could follow closely behind if – for whatever reasons – they resume bit-part roles from August.

Then there is the issue of the youngsters and the best way to aid their development and finally immerse them into the first team environment. How we handle Zele Ismail will be particularly interesting, as well as the stance on Batth, Malone, Winnall, David Davis and Mendez-Laing. More loans I’d imagine.

Maybe save that subject for another time as I get back to the question in hand. One player, one more signing, who would you like it to be (from those currently being linked).

Because he’s worth it?

According to a recent report in the Guardian newspaper, our esteemed chief executive was the 5th best paid in the Premier League last season with a £1.1 million income, equating to around £20,000 a week.

Without wanting to turn this blog into a shimmering hair advert, the simple question is: Is it because he’s worth it?

Most financial experts are praising the stewardship of our club for attaining something like £9 million in profit last year, suggesting that Jez has more than earned his considerable corn.

And while many will regale his dealings in player sales – most notably £5 million for Akinbiye and £3 million for Olofinjana – there have been a number of cock-ups over the years that either get brushed under the carpet, or simply airbrushed altogether.

Do Jez Moxey's big pay packets really matter?

Examples being: Yoakim Bjorklund on a one year deal at 32 while Paul Butler was snubbed a two year deal at the age of 31. Cue gagging order on Butler.

Youle Mawene particularly griped when Dave Jones was desperate for the Derby man’s signature before he opted for Preston at the 11th hour. ‘We’ve been gazumped,’ Jez laughed!

Then there was the alleged flat refusal on Dean Windass’s signing because he was over 30, months before we bought Frankowski aged 32. (in preference of a young and hungry England under-21 player Izale McLeod)

History can thankfully tell us that these are largely insignificant points, like the pie and pint fiasco that I still don’t bear a grudge over. (just an honest mistake in my humble opinion)

Personally, I just resent anyone getting such an obscene salary when I struggle to pay for my season ticket.

Call it resentment and you’d be spot on. Hardly Jez’ fault is it?!

Couple that with a smug air of self satisfaction and I start to genuinely dislike the man, which I acknowledge is completely irrational.

When getting promoted under Dave Jones he trumpeted a transfer policy that meant we wouldn’t have to buy again once we got to the Promised Land, such was the experience and alleged quality within the squad. (I wish I could find those quotes now. I definitely remember them!)

Within two disastrous years he then starts eulogising over a young and hungry policy as if he’s just discovered Newton’s theory of gravity. Didn’t the parachute payments just run-out?!

And wasn’t it the miracle worked by Mick McCarthy that gave feasibility to this young and hungry cliché, as opposed to an alternative translation of ‘untried and cheap’ had he failed?

It is this contradiction of transfer policy that riles me, when people laud the man as some sort of revolutionary, which simply can’t be the case.

Surely history will soon bear testament to this when analysing our stance on Scott Dann, Roger Johnson and Matt Mills – three players we haggled over two years ago for the sake of a few grand, who are now worth more than £20 million combined.

What facts I do know are:

  1. He was paid a one off-bonus of £2.1 million the season we got promoted in 2003, in a ‘boardroom vote’ that was agreed behind closed doors, unbeknown to two directors at that time.
  2. He now earns more than a chief executive of many FTSE100 listed companies, including Severn Trent Water, despite Wolves’ minnow status in terms of staff roll, assets, turnover and profit.
  3. Sir Jack Hayward and Steve Morgan – two men who I have a great deal of respect for – both can’t praise the man highly enough.

Do the first two points matter if the third one does?

Probably not.

Does it bother any of you anyway if we keep making such progress on the pitch over the coming years?

Feel free to comment!

An ode to ‘The Doog’

A legend remembered

What’s his name??? Alexander Derek Dougan.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the death of ‘The Doog.’

For all of you who remember his home debut against Hull and the third goal of his hat-trick, check out the out the official Wolves website.

They have a video tribute to the great man and film of that wonderful third goal.

It was exactly as I remember, except from a different angle, as I was in the North Bank right behind the goal.

If you look really close, you can see me!

Watching the tribute brought tears to my eyes, as I’m sure it will to all fans of my age and older, who remember with love and affection our first true hero and God.

Long may you be in our hearts, Doog.

Written by Clive from Houston

O’Hara signs for £5 million!!

Let’s hope this transfer window is like a bottle of ketchup from now on, with Jamie O’Hara’s signature the first big dollop of good news.

We’ve been shaking the internet upside down for a month in the hope of some juicy nuggets of speculation to feast over, only to stare at the screen like that half empty bottle of sauce.

Mander Centre. Bentley Bridge cinema. Black Country Museum. GET IN THERE!!!!

But now we can all see a steady flow of headlines on the back of the O’Hara purchase, the good news might just keep coming with a bit of luck.

What do we all think? While in no way shape or form am I comparing the Tottenham fringe man to the mercurial Matt le Tissier, an anecdote from the languid genius came into my head when watching O’Hara’s first game or two at Molineux.

The Southampton legend told of the day Alan Ball took his first training session on the south coast after becoming manager a few hours before.

Rounding every squad player in a big circle, Ball squeeked at Le Tissier to move out of the way, as the pep talk didn’t involve him.

Le Tissier shuffled off, thinking that his enigmatic ways were actually going to be dispensed with by a man who needed more graft.

Ball then piped up at his failing squad and demanded that every player carried out one simple instruction until the end of the season in order to survive…Give the ball to Le Tissier.

Obviously there is no way O’Hara can dictate or change a game quite like Le Tissier (otherwise he’d still have a cockerel on his shirt), but I am delighted he has finally signed on the dotted line because he’s one player we can build a team around.

£5 million? That goal was worth £10 million!

Not only can he pick out a pass and offer a genuine goal threat, the thing I liked most was O’Hara’s ability to play within himself – a quality I had not seen all season.

With Henry exclusively operating at full tilt and Milijas a bit too enigmatic for Mick, O’Hara made it all look surprisingly stress-free, with that elusive extra second of time on the ball.

In short, he looked Premiership quality.

Yes, he tailed off for brief spell near the end of the season, but I’d like to think that was more to do with a year-long back injury and the manager’s decision to ditch the 4-5-1 system and play a 4-4-2, featuring an unfathomable O’Hara selection on the right of midfield against Everton and a peculiar line-up against Stoke, when Jamie was virtually holding Mancienne’s hand.

While I wouldn’t be rounding up the rest of the squad in a big circle at Compton just yet, I do think we’ve bought a player to orchestrate our attacking intent next season, so I say well done to everyone and welcome aboard Jamie!

Wolves Blog’s all time 11

While watching a particularly turgid home game last season (Wigan Athletic I think) I asked the old boys around me what their best ever Wolves XI would be, in a desperate attempt to avert their poor eyes.

It was the best thing I could have done, as the previously inanimate, lifeless souls sprang into action like Steve Kindon on a heart defibrillator.

The weathered, hard suffering onlookers were like rabid dogs around a packet of Tangtastic Haribos, salivating and slobbering away for a good 60 minutes.

It was a Boxing Day treat for me and was one abiding memory to genuinely treasure. Kind of put it all into perspective somehow.

So on that Boxing Day theme, I have spoken to my Dad, my Uncle Ben, my ever decreasing circle of friends and those passionate old boys in the row in front of me, who always make my season ticket worthwhile.

 So here it is. The Wolves Blog’s all time Wolves XI.

What do you think? This team below is something of a 3-5-2 system, but more a case of 11 fine men in a team together! 

The cat in full flight!

Bert Williams

Never has one player made a Pathe newsreel look so modern.

Daring, athletic and a quite remarkable spring in his step, Bert Williams was one of the world’s greatest keepers in the early 1950s, and one that high definition television was surely made for.

Bert served for the RAF during the Second World War and when hostilities ended, he joined Wolves for £3,500 in September 1945.

On his retirement in 1957, Bert had a grand and glorious total of 420 league and cup matches under his belt, plus an FA Cup winner’s medal (1949), a League Championship medal (1954) and 24 England caps.

Frank Munro

Frank Munro

A name synonymous with the Wanderers’ number 5 shirt, Frank was a proper footballer.

The closest player we had to Bobby Moore, who could read the game with unerring ease before starting so many of our attacks from the back.

Frank was a fine, fine footballer who was equally adept on either foot, who never appeared to be breaking sweat.

He gave Wolves great service for eight years, appearing in 371 games and scoring 18 goals – some of them vital – while starring in the 1972 UEFA Cup and 1974 League Cup finals.

Billy Wright

Billy Wright CBE

Words simply don’t do justice to Billy Wright, who was arguably the greatest player to ever wear the Old Gold shirt.

A picture of his proud statue outside the stand that bears his name paints a thousand words better than these.

Billy was the first player in the world to win 100 caps, but perhaps Wolves fans will remember him best for winning three League Championships and an FA Cup.

In between lifting the title in 1958 and 1959, he also helped Wolves destroy Honved, Spartak, Moscow Dynamo and the cream of Europe who searched for glory on an English football pitch.

Not bad for a kid once turned away for being too small!

Bill Slater (right)

Bill Slater OBE

A true gentleman on the pitch, whose induction into the Wolves Hall of Fame in 2010 featured an anecdote about telling off an opponent for using foul language!

Never a full-time pro, he gained an FA Cup winner’s medal in 1960 against Blackburn Rovers, shackling a certain young Derek Dougan at Wembley.

Bill was always calm under pressure and in possession, elegant in movement and style, and confident when starting attacks.

He helped us to three titles, 12 England caps and 339 appearances, all while working as a lecturer at Birmingham University. A class act.

Johnny Hancocks

Johnny Hancocks

Johnny’s name will forever be associated with the great Stan Cullis team of the 1950s, belting 168 goals in 378 matches.

Shropshire lad Johnny was only 5ft 4ins and wore size 2 boots, but by god could he hit a ball!

He could unleash a quite stunning shot – particularly from dead balls – and must go down as one of the best pieces of business in Wolves history, costing £4,000.

Johnny acted as the perfect foil for his co-partner on the opposite flank, Jimmy Mullen, both of whom played huge roles in our most golden of eras.

Peter Broadbent

Peter Broadbent

If a more skilful, intelligent or naturally gifted player has ever worn the Wolves shirt than Broadbent then we’d love to have seen him.

The inside forward was the player George Best admired most, whose ability to create in midfield and score in attack was almost unprecedented.

Dad told me he’d walk to Molineux just to watch Broadbent, because he ‘did things that no other player ever did.’

Peter won three League Championship medals, one FA Cup and scored 145 goals in 497 games.

Peter Knowles

Peter Knowles

Maybe we did see that player to rival Broadbent after all, for an all too brief moment.

Never mind mercurial, Peter Knowles was ethereal, boasting more skill to suggest he was from another planet, let alone league.

He played only 191 games for Wolves, scoring 64 goals, before shocking the football world by turning his back on the game in 1970, becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.

We retained his registration for many years afterwards, hoping he would change his mind, but he sadly never did.

Ron Flowers

Ron Flowers

When asked about the secret of Wolves’ all conquering side of the 1950s, left back Gerry Harris simply said: “They were all fine young men.”

None more so than Ron Flowers, whose striking blond hair, powerful legs and phenomenal stamina was a sight to behold.

Ron was an attacking wing half and played in well over 500 games for Wolves, scoring 32 times.

He has three league titles to his name, an FA Cup winners medal in 1960, and most recently, a belated 1966 World Cup winners medal for his place in England’s triumphant squad, where he nearly replaced an injury threatened Jack Charlton in the final.

Skipper Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey

A true leader of men, ‘Skipper Mike Bailey’ was at the heart of all things memorable during the 1970s, playing a huge part in our long awaited revival.

Mike’s finest hour was leading us to the 1974 League Cup against a star studded Manchester City side boasting Summerbee, Marsh, Bell and Lee.

His barrel chest and teak tough demeanour made the biggest impression that day, not to mention on 436 other days besides.

Cantona might have called Mike Bailey something of a ‘water carrier.’ We all call him a legend whose induction into the Wolves Hall of Fame in 2010 came not a moment too soon.

Bully!

Steve Bull MBE

Quite easily the best signing in the history of Wolverhampton Wanderers, when arch rivals WBA gave him away for £65,000.

Not only is Bully our 306 goal record goalscorer, but he an icon and role model who continues to define a generation.

Under the stewardship of manager Graham Turner and alongside Andy Mutch, Bully dragged our withered club kicking and screaming out of divisions four and three and into the world which we are now accustomed.

‘Make the most of Bully’ my father would always tell me. ‘There will never be another one like him.’

I really wish I’d have listened, because those blistering goals and barnstorming battles will never be replicated.

Nor will 13 caps for England as a third division player.

He could have scored for the best teams in Europe. On behalf of every Wolves fan that has ever lived, thank you so much for not choosing to Bully.

King John!

John Richards

John Richards’s 194 goals was a record that few would thought would ever be beaten, until a certain Steve Bull came along.

King John really is one of the all time Wolves legends, winning two League Cups, a UEFA Cup runner-up medal and a Second Division title, to boot.

He was well remembered for a wonderful partnership with Derek Dougan, which became the envy of many top flight clubs for the majority of the 1970s.

A gentleman on and off the pitch and not just a great goalscorer, but a scorer of great goals too.

Thomas ties the knot!

The perfect couple!

It must be nearly two years to the day since this blog was set-up, and since being lured into its clutches, I never foresaw a breaking news announcement quite like this one.

It’s more romantic than a Robbie Keane homecoming, more inevitable than a Christophe Berra shirt tug and its implications are more significant than Stephen Hunt’s goal on May 22.

Thomas Baugh has got married.

The lifelong deal was signed in St Bart’s church, Penn, and its ramifications cannot be underplayed.

No longer will our most prolific writer be able to pour his heart over a blog for three hours, wistfully reaching for an old programme to cross reference.

The programmes will be in the loft for a start, and the wife will be getting rather bemused that he’s outpouring his emotions behind a computer for three hours, compared to 10 minutes behind the arse cheeks at bedtime.

Not that I’m speaking from experience…

…I’ve never got near the arse cheeks in 11 years.

Tom puts his best shirt on for his big day!

Typical of me to lower the tone when paying tribute to the most beautiful wedding I have ever had the honour of being invited to.

Effortlessly classy, endearingly intimidate and triumphantly romantic from start to finish, Thomas and Jen’s wedding was, well…perfect.

Just perfect. And while us blokes aren’t always the best at portraying their feelings (apart from on here!), I want Tom to know how privileged I was to be invited, in the same room of so many welcoming friends and family.

All of them knew Tom and Jen for 15 – 25 years or more, whereas the imposter at the back knew him from an idle remark about Nenad Milijas 24 months ago.

Hi-ho Wolverhampton was a great 1st song choice!

It’s inappropriate to feel a sense of regret on such a beautiful day, but for one second I genuinely did…

…Regret that this blog wasn’t around 15 years ago so I could have known a special friend for longer.

Anyway, enough of all that!

I hope you will all join me in raising a glass to Tom and Jen and wishing them all the very best for the future.

Oh, and finally…You’re left with me for two weeks now, as the lovebirds are off on their honeymoon. Hooray!