Old gold, soaked in sunshine, securing the trophy that Stan Cullis made his own – at the home of an old nemesis.
In much the same manner as the preceding 43 games, the script couldn’t have been written any better, with the ghosts of Burnden past and Reebok present fully exorcised once and for all, and that glorious swagger back in our stride.
Thank you Nuno and thank you to all you wonderful Wolves players for continuing to create memories like these, when we were thinking that you’d exhausted them all over the course of this never ending campaign.
This 4-0 drubbing might have lacked the furore and bitten fingernails of our ‘Boro, Bristol and Cardiff conquests, but for those fans too long in the tooth to forget the heartache of 1995, this victory will conjure the exact same blissful, fuzzy feeling when we wake in the morning – joyous in the knowledge that this hasn’t been a dream.
This was Nuno at his finest. Our adopted son and first bona-fide cult hero since Bully. Born 1,500 miles from Wolverhampton, but bearing the very DNA of our club on his shoulders like he’s been here all his life.
His three-at-the-back formation has been too tough a nut to crack for a perplexed league all season, but when you mingle his system with genuine soul, then you’ve got an otherworldly leader of men, who’ve recorded some ethereal performances as a result.
Did he know that we’d never won against a Mick McCarthy side since the old mule left? Or that we blew up back in 2002 in a similar position to where we’ve been? That we’d not won in Middlesbrough since the 1950s? Or how about never triumphing at the Reebok Stadium in a league fixture before now? Wearing the fabric of our very existence like a cloak across his back, how can anyone believe he didn’t?
Whether or not we now reach 100 points is secondary, thanks to Nuno cracking more millstones around our necks than opponents’ hearts. These are memories to last longer than a screengrab of a league table. These are the days my friends, consigning those miserable nights of the past to absolute irrelevance.
Somewhere, in a working man’s club where cigarette-smoke-stained-walls appal, John McGinlay loiters, regaling the spiritless locals about the time he punched David Kelly in 1995 and prospered. He shovels Monster Munch into his gob, ferociously licking his beef stained fingers, salivating over what happened next. The barmaid pours him another pint, rolls her eyes and looks to the poor souls who’ve heard the story a thousand times before. She nods wearily. Big John picks at his teeth, necks his Thwaites and foams at the mouth some more. Nobody hears a thing.
Like it ever really mattered. Thanks to Nuno and what feels like a magical stroke of his beard, all such heartache is void, as the Trotters spiral into a paradigm they laughed they’d never enter, and we majestically stride towards the Promised Land they once blackened.
Make no mistake, this 4-0 win is every bit as sweet as the 29 others we’ve chalked up, as it forcefully underlines the power-shift that so many old foes find so unpalatable.
We are the one and only Wanderers? You bloody bet we are.