‘Wolves is such a good name for a team, isn’t it?’
“I love the club’s name. How it comes directly from the city. It’s not like The Canaries or The Red Devils – the name Wolves just sounds great and is clearly linked to the name of the city it represents.”
This was something my late father regularly said when we were at Molineux together, or in playful discussions with fans of other teams. And for some reason, the point resonated with me.
Recent events in my family, as well as being able to watch my beloved Wolves in Europe for the first time in my life (I’m 27), have compelled me to reminisce on the highs and lows of supporting this team.
When I was growing up, my father would regale me with his tales of the legendary 1970s – his favourite players being Kenny Hibbitt and Dave ‘Waggy’ Wagstaffe – and being at Wembley for our League Cup triumphs in 1974 and 1980.
He would always comment on modern pre-match rituals with amazement – ‘back in the day, they’d have a fag in the changing rooms and jog out 5 minutes before kick-off!’
The first game I attended with him was a 1-1 draw at home to Oxford Utd in February 1999, with Robbie Keane on the scoresheet. Another memory from my early days at Molineux was (another) 1-1 draw with Swindon in November 1999, where one Iffy Onuora proved a thorn in our sides until Havard Flo saved the day.
Compared to the heady heights of today, that’s a pretty non-descript start. Yet for some reason, I was hooked.
Everything about the Wolves – the team colours, the stadium name, the history of the club – spoke to me in the way it had spoken to my Dad in his youth.
We were ever-presents throughout the initial Premier League adventure, including that 4-3 win over Leicester in 2003. I was an advocate of leaving at half time, yet my father insisted we stayed. I’m grateful we did. I have never left a game early since.
Even in League One, we still went. A record-breaking season, yet somewhat typically, we still managed to pick a 0-1 home defeat to Walsall and a 1-1 home draw with Orient as the only games we could make it to!
Our distance from Wolverhampton meant that in later years, we didn’t go as often as previously. I did still make it to a few games during our triumphant 2017-18 season when my love for the club was rekindled.
I knew Nuno was a magician when I saw the difference in Conor Coady. I sat at the Madjeski Stadium in March 2017, taking in a clumsy midfield performance that resulted in a 2-1 defeat that left us one place above the Championship relegation zone. I then sat at Molineux in February 2018 and watched a commanding defensive performance maintain an 8-point lead at the top of the Championship. What a difference a manager makes!
Even when not attending matches, I have always keenly followed developments and results and would jump at any opportunity to go. And when I did, there was always the buzz of leaving home to drive up on matchdays. I’ll never forget the run into Wolverhampton on the Penn Road, as you gradually see more and more Wolves colours until you’re surrounded by them at Molineux itself.
Like my father was, I am immensely proud to be a fan of such a unique team like Wolves. The current success only adds fuel to those feelings.
Molineux will always be a place of great memories and a source of pride for me, as it was for him.
Once a wolf, always a wolf.