Archives for April 2014

Fantasy football: a team of Wolves champions

Two teams, 192 points between them and enough happy, golden memories to brighten the darkest of days.

fantasy football wolves

But which players from our 1988/89 Barclays Division 3 exploits would edge out today’s promotion heroes in a third tier fantasy eleven?

When I said I was nostalgic for all-things Manders Paint and Ink, I wasn’t messing about, which is why I have deliberated over a combined Wolves XI from the happiest two seasons I can remember (bar Mick McCarthy’s 2008/09 vintage)!

So here goes…

IkemeGoalkeeper: Carl Ikeme

Sorry to my boyhood hero Mark Kendall, but Ikeme has to play. In 1988/9 we had a Welsh jester between the sticks who freely admitted to a Dracula-like aversion to crosses. In Ikeme, we have a near-impenetrable presence who would neither laugh or cry if you tweaked his big manly nipples with a brillo pad.

Season highlight: Bradford (a) hat-trick of tremendous late saves to deny Nakhi Wells in a defining away victory. Leyton Orient TV masterclass a close second.

Andy ThompsonLeft back: Andy Thompson

Although Mark Venus was a regular left back in 1988/89, Thommo played all 46 games in a number of positions (six league goals), including an occasional midfield berth. Scott Golbourne runs him close and can count himself unlucky for a season of reassuring competence. Call it sentimental but for infectious enthusiasm, boundless energy levels and an unerring record from the penalty spot, Thommo has to play.

Season highlight: 30 yard shot which bounced on a strategically placed Billy Pilbeam divot (our wonderful old groundsman) and bounced over Mansfield keepers’ head in a 6-2 rout!

BaathCentre back: Danny Batth

When you’ve got Floyd Streete, Ally Robertson and Gary Bellamy as competition, this choice is relatively easy (no offence). Factor in an endless number of clean sheets and a local-lad presence of symbolic proportions and it’s even easier. ‘Bruno’ would have pushed Batth closest, but the man from Brierley Hill makes it.

Season highlight: When you’ve kept 23 clean sheets, it sounds absurd to refer to one of his goals, but that opener against Peterborough at the South Bank end was a belter.

StearmanCentre back: Richard Stearman

What I am about to say isn’t for effect and forgive me if you don’t agree, but Richard Stearman is my player of the 2013/14 season. Not only is he the only genuinely mobile centre half we have, but he has cut out those errors that were always so bloody disastrous. It wasn’t that he ever made many; just that they always ended up in the back of our net! Danny without Dickie is like salt without vinegar. And let’s not forget a quite phenomenal beard growth on a par with a converted teacher at a Birmingham primary school.

Season highlight: A signature pirouette away at Walsall while 3-0 up on halfway line, taking two strikers out the game in one sultry shimmy. A giddy away following lapped it up!

RickettsRight back: Sam Ricketts (c)

One of the first names on this team-sheet. If we want a man to encompass the very ethos and fibre of both squads, this is he. In Ricketts, Jackett had an on-field lieutenant to subtly affirm his ethos. Something of an unsung hero, but a steadying influence that we missed when he wasn’t there. Plus, he was an absolute gentleman to my little boy when he was mascot in a pre-season friendly at Chesterfield.

Season highlight: Being an absolute gentleman to my little boy when he was mascot at Chesterfield! Seriously though, ‘that’ goal in ‘that’ game against Rotherham was his defining moment of the season.

McDonaldCentre midfield: Kevin McDonald

Who else?! Barring ½ yard of pace, Kevin McDonald has all the attributes to be a fantastic Premier League footballer. He’s a colossus. Calm on the ball, careful in possession and the overall conductor of our tuneful orchestra. The toughest player of the lot to replace.

Season highlight: For me, it was the first time I saw him play 90mins, away at Port Vale in a 3-1 win. He looked like an under-16 player in an under-12 game and completely ran the show. He seems to have grown ever since.

DowningCentre midfield: Keith Downing

Sorry to Jack Price, but Psycho is my holding midfielder alongside Big Mac. So fearless, combative and downright scary that the legend of Keith Downing lived until about 2002 when we finally bought a ball-winning midfielder on a par with him.

For all the inferior strikers we’ve had down the years that were ‘not fit to lace Bully’s boots,’ we’ve also had all manner of midfield men who were ‘no Keith Downing.’ Psycho was no-nonsense and would put the fear of God into opponents before they’d left the tunnel.

Season highlight: A poster in a matchday programme funnily enough, which captured Psycho in full flow – flying through the air like a mingled Bananaman and Chuckie. ‘Keith Downing is a Punk Rocker’ music cassette soon followed in ALOB.

DennisonLeft midfield: Robbie Dennison

For those who never saw Robbie Dennison in his pomp, then think of a white John Barnes, with less pace. Ok, so I’m stretching it a bit, but whenever we gave the ball to Robbie, something happened.

He was so languid, chilled-out and comfortable on the ball that he should have worn a pair of slippers. James Henry misses out which is tough luck on today’s 10 goal version of the Northern Irishman, but for free-kicks alone, Robbie gets in.

Season highlight: Curling an absolute belter in the top-bin against Bolton at Burnden Park, which left a ‘Ding-Dong-Do’ home commentator literally speechless (as per Mark Kendall’s ‘View from the Back’ season review)

JacobsRight midfield: Michael Jacobs

I love this guy. I believe he is most effective in a ‘no 10’ role behind Dicko, but in this 4-4-2 formation he plays on the right. He is deceptively quick and has mounted countless attacks at the blink of an eye through his pace and vision. Without him, the remnants of last season’s stodgy, one-paced side might well have remained.

Phil Robinson, Mick Gooding and Nigel Vaughan run Jacobs the closest, but in the ‘X-Factor’ stakes, he offers more.

Season review: His two goals at Brentford in that season-defining win offers the most succinct summary of Michael Jacobs. His first, a rapid late run to break in behind a static defence; His second a 25 yard pearler in the top corner.

BullyForward: Steve Bull

I first fell in love with Steve Bull in 1988/89 and I’ve never stopped loving him since. Fifty goals, and barely one of them a tap-in. Bully carried that team of Turner’s to the title and as an eight year-old, what struck me about him was his pace. He was SO sharp and even more ruthless. He never seemed to miss the target in those heady days of old.

Season highlight: So, so many to choose from, but a 30 yard left-foot screamer at home to Bolton Wanderers on March 4 is probably the best Bully goal I’ve ever seen (North Bank end).

MutchForward: Andy Mutch

Twenty-one goals, all manner of assists and a telepathic understanding with Bully. Was never the quickest, but certainly one of the most intelligent players I’ve seen and had a knack of affecting the big games when it mattered most.

Season highlight: A run and cross to Bully to break deadlock in the promotion decider against Sheffield United was typical Mutchy, but I’ll plump for a double in a 2-1 win at home to Blackpool in the middle of an eight-game winning streak.

So there you have it folks. This my 89/14 Champions XI:

Wolves Champions Team

Six of the best players from the current squad and five from my nostalgic childhood memories. What’s your team?

Competition: Win an exclusive Art of Football t-shirt

Art of Football produce beautifully designed limited edition t-shirts that commemorate iconic moments like no other piece of generic football merchandise can.

10k2mk

Luke from AofF sent me an email last month asking if I had any suggestions that would encapsulate Wolves’ season.

WE Conquered picSadly, we hadn’t had that rip-roaring 6-4 victory over Rotherham at that point, so the only other realistic suggestion was the 10k2mk.

As you can see from the above artwork, the design that’s been produced is beautifully imagined.

And to say thanks to Wolves Blog, Art of Football are offering you the chance to win one of these fantastic t-shirts.

To enter, simply leave a comment below suggesting what you’d have printed on a t-shirt to sum up this fantastic season.

As always, most ‘Likes’ will win and I’m opening the contest up to all expat readers.

Likes will be counted at midday on Thursday (May 1st) with the winner contacted by email.

If you’d like to forgo the competition and buy one of the t-shirts yourselves, they’re available at Art of Football here, priced at £20.

You can follow Art of Football on Twitter, or Facebook.

Coventry City 1 Wolves 1

It might have been a nervous push to square leg, instead of a trademark flash through the covers, but the century is up for Wolves.

Wolves Coventry Dave Edwards

Only 9 other clubs have managed a three digit total in the history of the Football League. And a win against Carlisle next weekend will take Kenny Jackett’s history boys to number three in that list of great champions.

Still, I’m sure there was more than a tinge of disappointment in the away dressing room yesterday, as Wolves should have taken the spoils courtesy of Dave Edwards’ late goal.

The introduction of Bakary Sako added some long overdue forward thrust and his powerful delivery was smartly turned home by Edwards for a ninth league goal of the season.

A new contract beckons for the midfielder, as I’m sure is the case for his fellow class of 2008 graduate Richard Stearman. They would now be considered significant losses.

That said, the defensive mean machine has been more generous of late and Danny Batth’s own goal was a gift Coventry were grateful to receive.

Not entirely his fault of course. The ball shouldn’t have been allowed to travel as far as it did and the big centre back was then under pressure to deal with an awkward position. Perhaps the organisational presence of Sam Ricketts was missed in that particular instance.

It also meant that Coventry are in line to be the only team Wolves haven’t beaten in two league meetings. Carlisle can still join that exclusive club next weekend.

Liam McAlinden was a surprise inclusion and the youngster could have added another goal to his Wolves tally with a header his manager thought he should have done better with.

It will be intriguing to see how the forward is used next season when summer reinforcements arrive to complement already strong competition for places.

That and many, many other similar decisions will need resolving soon after next weekend’s homecoming celebrations.

For now though, we can bask in the comfortable surroundings of the 100 Club.

Highlights