Archives for January 2012

Salone wolf

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.

Spot the wolf

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.

Sierra Leone tackling Egypt

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.

Thomas: Many, many thanks to David for taking the time to contribute this post. Please do make sure you check out his excellent online journal Salonian Rhythms by clicking here.

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!

Welcome back

Digest the following: if it weren’t for Michael Kightly, this very blog wouldn’t exist.

Summer 2009, in the halcyon aftermath of our triumphant promotion to the Premier League I happened upon this picture:

A picture that's worth 275,000 words (approx) and counting

So taken was I with this photograph centering on our flying winger that I immediately set about searching for an online Wolves publication, so that I could contact them to suggest they use the image in some capacity.

Upon finding that no such website existed, I decided to build one myself, more to test my burgeoning web design skills than create any sort of old gold magnum opus.

Still, pleased with my efforts, I posted a handful of articles, convinced a young scallywag by the name of Ben to join the force (he had his own site at the time) and the rest, as they say, is Wolves Blog history.

540 posts, 20,000 comments and 3 years later, I think it’s fair to say things have gone rather well.

How intolerably cruel then that the very man who set the blog wheels in motion has spent the duration of it’s lifetime clambering for escape from injury hell.

Indeed there were times when it appeared that the real Michael Kightly would never truly re-emerge.

End product, how we've missed you

Sure, he sporadically pulled on the shirt in between lengthy stints on the treatment table but never once did you get the impression he was operating anywhere near his best.

It was painful to watch.

Understandably then, despite returning from a successful stint at Watford this month, many around Molineux still questioned whether he could do it at the top table.

However, the dour 0-0 at St. Andrew’s a few weeks back was notable in my eyes for a singular reason – Michael Kightly.

By no means did he light up that abhorrently dull contest, but there was most definitely a spark, a spring in his step that hadn’t truly been seen since late 2008.

Buoyed by this I immediately called for his inclusion at Spurs in my preview, which Mick duly obliged with.

Another encouraging, if not spectacular performance at White Hart Lane had me believing there was more to come last Saturday against Villa.

I was not disappointed.

For 25 glorious minutes leading up to half-time, things were as they always should have been.

Gone (hopefully never to be seen again) was the flinching imposter who’d tarnished the reputation of one of our finest players in recent history.

It was all there.

Darting into space, running his defender on the diagonal, sliding incisive passes between the lines and deservedly capping it all with a beautifully finished goal.

It was a powerful and immediate reminder of just how good a player he has the capacity to be and the one quality he brings to our side that we desperately lack – end product.

Of course on this occasion it all proved to be in vain as the ruthless nature of the Premier League bit back in the second half and Wolves collapsed in every way imaginable.

Yet on the day that we finally dropped into the bottom three for the first time this season, the one chink of light I cling onto is that we may have rediscovered a player who can ultimately dig us out again.

Welcome back Kites.

Three wise men?

Reading the blogs on here these days and the responses to Steve Morgan’s recent statements in the E&S, it’s clear that there are a lot of supporters who are extremely unhappy at the moment.

I don’t know how many exactly, whether it’s the majority or not, but it’s plenty.

Fed up with the quality of football and even more fed up with the results. Week after week, in fact year after year, of being outclassed and what most fans hate most of all, losing.

Are things 'too stable' at Molineux?

Three years ago I fully bought into the official line. Buying only young and hungry players, spending within our means and stability of management and ownership.

An excellent and sensible business plan. But any plan only has merit in that it achieves it’s aims. And the aims of any professional football team is to progress and become better and more successful.

This is patently not the case at Wolves. The team shows no sign of improvement half way into a third season of premiership football. In fact, I would say we are losing ground on many teams.

So we have a lot of very unhappy fans. The problem is the management are far from unhappy.

First you have a CEO whose aim is to run a premiership team as cheaply as possible. And bullseye! He’s the best there is and is often keen to proclaim it. Lowest wage bill, bargain basement buys, optimum ticket pricing. Stay in the league, anywhere out of the bottom three, and coin the money in.

Then you have a manager who loves managing in the premiership. And who wouldn’t? Wonderful ground, training facilities and money to spend. Fantastic support. Most managers would give their right arm to have the privilege of managing our great club.

And Mick can do it his way. He can generally steer clear of foreign players because they take longer to bed in and they’re not always right good lads like the British boys. He doesn’t have to move good players on to get better ones, he can stick with the lads he likes.

He doesn’t have to put up with criticism from the fans or media, he can call them numpties and tell them he’s ready for a fight if they want one. He can refer to our club as ‘my team’ and last, and best of all, he doesn’t have to win. His job is safe, apparently, even if we go down. Yes, a very happy manager.

And finally we have the owner.

A scouser and lifelong Liverpool fan who tried to buy his club but had to settle for Wolves. How much this adventure is about football and how much is about the various building projects which ownership has allowed I don’t know.

But it’s definitely both.

And the bottom line once again is stay in the league, anywhere above the bottom three, and all is well. Plenty of money coming in and his empire growing. Maybe one day, with the ground rebuilt, he’ll sell up and have just enough to get what he really wanted in the first place.

That is the conundrum facing Wolves fans at the moment. Our main priority, a winning team which is good to watch, is not necessarily the priority of the three men who decide our fate.

* Thanks to Martin for sending in this blog. It’s great to get contributions from far and wide so we can express a variety of different opinions. So please don’t hesitate if you fancy a bash at writing something for us. You can find details on the Contact page.

* If you have some spare pennies, please do consider donating to our March to Molineux walk. It’s a wonderful cause and I’d like to raise a couple of hundred quid minimum. As I write this, we’ve got £67, so there’s still a bit to go. You can donate by clicking here.