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Youthful Memories of Molineux

Discussion in '1970's' started by Beowulf, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Beowulf

    Beowulf Senior Member

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    Try as I might, I can’t quite pinpoint my first match at Molineux. I’ve narrowed it down to 1975-’76 when I was 6-7 years old. There are a few possibilities: a reserve match against, I believe, Ipswich where my abiding memory from my vantage point in the South Bank corner of Molineux Street was the vastness of the South Bank itself. Another candidate was a reserve match against Derby that I was taken to courtesy of my near-neighbour at that time, a certain Dave Wagstaffe. However, I believe that my first match at Molineux was actually my first team ‘debut’ as such - a 1-1 draw against Leeds on January 17th 1976. Despite my slightly hazy recollection, there’s a distinctive memory of the Leeds match that proved so powerful and stimulating, it burned itself into my then impressionable mind and endures to this day - it was the noise of the crowd together with the beauty and perfect dimensions of Molineux itself. It was very much a sporting equivalent to the thespian ‘smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd’ allure!

    I was taken to the match against Leeds by my dad and uncle. For some reason we were about 10 minutes or so late as we hastily negotiated through the streets of terraced house that formed the backdrop to the Molineux Street Stand. Although it was completely unknown to me at that time, it was the same match day journey performed by Wolves fans of a previous generation; from the impressively-attired crowds on their way to cheer Major Buckley’s exciting side of the 1930’s to the Brylcreemed masses and their support during the golden years. Literally thousands of our forefathers had trodden the Staffordshire blue brick on their way to Molineux. Now it was my turn.

    As we made our way to the ground there was a sudden crescendo of noise that seemingly came out of nowhere, a collective “Ooooohhh” from over 30,000 voices that, I would soon learn, signalled that the home team had come close to scoring. I can’t say that it stopped me in my tracks as such but I’m sure that my eyes widened further in excitement and wonder. It was the most extraordinary and evocative noise that I’d ever heard. There then followed a loud, deliberately-paced and repeated urge of “Come on you Wolves” that accompanied our entry into the distinctive Molineux Street Stand. We emerged from the dimly-lit bowels of the old stand and the sight that then greeted me left me awestruck, an absolute riot of colours that even Van Gogh might have considered as too overpowering; a bright patch of green playing host to flecks of vivid, fast moving colour; the all-white of Leeds and those gold shirts, all vividly enhanced from a dazzling winter sun. I was an enthusiastic Wolves fan prior to this match but the subsequent live experience ensured that I was irreversibly hooked. It was all utterly intoxicating.

    My dad’s work commitments meant that I wasn’t able to attend as many Wolves matches as I would have liked. In fact, October 14th 1978 was the next time I was present at a match, a 1-0 victory over Arsenal made all the more memorable by the highlights the next day on Star Soccer and the rich, distinctive brogue of Hugh Johns describing Mel Eves’ winning goal. A couple of days on from the Arsenal match, I attended John McAlle’s testimonial against a Spurs team that included two future Wolves managers in Colin Lee and Glenn Hoddle and also Ardiles and Villa, those two Argentinean imports that created such a huge amount of publicity earlier in that year.

    It was for the league visit of Tottenham later that season that I next attended. For that evening match against Spurs on April 3rd 1979 I was stood near the front of the terrace on the Waterloo Road Stand. So close to the Wolves dugout, in fact, that I distinctly recall Steve Daley complaining to the Wolves manager John Barnwell that he was “having lumps kicked out of him” by his Spurs opponent. Another moment of trivia I recollect is of being intrigued at the frequent sight of lit cigarette-ends dotted around the darkened North Bank, their sporadic glow piercing the dark shadows. Out of darkness cometh light indeed. Another memory of mine from that particular match was the sight of a huge crane towering menacingly over the Molineux Street Stand, its very presence indicating that one of the most iconic and unique sights in football, the seven-gabled roof of the Molineux Street Stand, was soon to be completely demolished.

    It was to the Molineux Street Stand that I returned to complete my extremely brief experience of Wolves matches in the 1970’s. A 4-0 defeat of Derby was quickly followed by the final home match of the 1978-79 season against the soon-to-be European Champions Nottingham Forest. I have only one memory of that evening fixture; an excellent Paul Bradshaw save that was generously applauded by Peter Shilton. In those days, despite my great reluctance, we used to leave the match about five minutes or so before the end and it was as we were walking past those same terraced houses that witnessed our late arrival a few years previously, a huge roar revealed a last minute winner for Wolves.

    In many respects, for me, it had all started with the sound of the Molineux crowd. And as we made our way home that night, for what would prove to be my final first team match of the 1970’s, it was the Molineux roar that provided the full stop to that particular decade. It neatly book-ended those initial, but sadly limited, ventures to Molineux, her slightly fading elegance at that time standing testimony to the stories of old gold. It was beneath those gold gables where, after being summoned by the crowd for the first time, other potent impressions of mine continued to form: the smell and haze of cigarette smoke, a wall of blank, unified faces and the gold paint and dark wood. The history of Wolves could be found in the fabric of Molineux itself and it was all-too tangible. However, tradition and distinction were unable to prevent the dear old Molineux Street Stand from the inevitability of the wrecking-ball, but the nostalgic glow from my early Molineux memories remain very much intact.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2010
    berwickwolf likes this.
  2. Superb memories and extremely well written. Your old English teacher can be proud :)
     
  3. Saltyjim

    Saltyjim Has a lot to say

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    Some good memories there, Beowulf. I was at some of those games myself, particularly remember the 1-0 win over Forest in the last game of the 78-79 season.
    The Molineux Street Stand was pretty iconic, the only other one like that which I can recall was at Highbury I think, but that is only from some old pics.
    My first games attending on my own were in that stand. My next door neighbour had a season ticket and following a heart attack was forbidden to attend by his doctor. In exchange for my old train set he gave me his ticket for the second half of the 74/75 season. The highlight of which was the famous 7-1 drubbing of Chelsea when Willie Carr made his debut.
    The ground lost a lot if atmosphere once the new stand was built.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2010
  4. Vietnam Wolf

    Vietnam Wolf Just doesn't shut up

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    I agree ... the way you describe your first entry to the stadium is superbly written, and matches exactly my experience. In fact that awe on initially entering the ground lasted for several games.
     
  5. Roby Wolf.

    Roby Wolf. Guest

    Youthfull memories of Mol.

    As a young follower of Everton my first visit was to Molineux in the 63/64 season it was a freezing cold foggy dank November afternoon and the game turned out no better than the weather it was a boaring 0-0 .
    I was an enthuseastic 12 year-old then and watched the game with my elder brother who was a couple of years older than me ?, we stud on the South Bank and i just fell in love with the place and i new in future that this was were i was going to watch my football.
    I had became a big fan of Derek Dougan after watching him make his Football League debut for Aston Villa at Goodison Park opening game of the 61/62 season and was overjoyed when he signed for the Wolves in 67 was hens forth that i became a regular visiter to Molineux and i relocated from the SB to the padock right next to the players tunnel (was a great speck this) for the next eight years or so.
    Some great memories visiting Molineux this era.
     
  6. Big Saft Kid

    Big Saft Kid Just doesn't shut up

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    I can't remember exactly what my first match was, but I would be about 6 or 7 (around 1955).

    But what I do remember was when I started to go on my own, when I was about 11. Always, at that time, in the South Bank. And one thing I always remember was the first Saturday home game in August, after an interminable (and what always seemed a hot) summer. The funny thing is, all those first games of the season seem in my mind to have rolled into one. The queuing at the turnstiles waiting for them to open. The click-click-click as they started to let people in. Getting nearer...and nearer... then through the gate and into the cavernous gloom under the old SB... a sprint to the bottom of the steps and leaping two steps at a time up them, and suddenly bang! there you were, at the top of the South Bank, gazing down on the empty ground and pitch, a fantastic, massive expanse of perfectly cut grass, such a contrast with the sand and ruts of April, the last time you had seen it, with the brilliant white paint of the lines and goalposts contrasting with the green of the virgin pitch... and it was always a sunny afternoon, or so it seemed, back in those days of the 50s, 60s, 70s...
     
  7. Bangla Wolf

    Bangla Wolf Senior Member

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    I was sat on the wall at the front of the Waterloo Road stand with my cousin. A bit closer to the southbank than northbank. Sunny Saturday afternoon. Willie Carr definitely scored at the Northbank end. I can't remember any other goals so I think it was 1-0 and it was in the 1970s. It wasn't busy and we had plenty of space.

    What was my first match?

    PS. My second match was Tuesday 25th November 1980 Wolves 4-1 Liverpool sometime later. I remember it vividly as I was slightly older (11).Cheers
     
  8. Dudleywolf

    Dudleywolf Just doesn't shut up

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    My first game was in 1966, aged 9. I had watched England win the World cup on telly with My dad and I was hooked. I wanted to watch football live and as I lived in Merridale road it was going to be the Wolves ! At that age I didn't realise my family links to Wolves, my dad had been stationed at Halfpenny green in the RAF and met and married my mom and moved here from Christchurch and worked initially at Goodyears, watching the Wolves in the fifties (lucky sod). My mothers family, (Hodnett) had stronger links , with my mom's father actually playing for the Wolves for a period just after the ist world war, indeed he played in the 1921 FAC final v Spurs at Stamford Bridge. He was a centre half and "BOILING OIL" was his nickname . possibly the period equivalent of chopper ! I never knew my Grandad as he died before the 2nd World war and I was quite a late child, being 10 years younger than my sister, all his memorabilia went to his 3 sons rather than one of his two daughters.
    It was felt I was too young to go on my own so a friend of my sister , named Janet, said she would take me to the games. I sadly have to admit I cannot pin down my very first game, in fact the only vivid memories I have were of the Coventry home defeat 1-3, We stood in the enclosure by where the players came out and the crowd was so large (30k +) that I couldn't see , so I was hoisted up into the little box which was by the tunnel and watched the game sat next to Fred Davies (the keeper recently replaced by Phil Parkes). I also have memories of Doog's home debut. History will show we got promoted that year , but blew the championship and the next season was the bigtime. The first home game was a night fixture with WBA and my dad took me. Again we stood in the enclosure and I remember my dad buying a bottle of stout from the kiosk (which opened onto the terrace) and he drank it on the terrace ! our vantage point was by the St John's ambulance hut close to the south bank. I had never seen such a crowd , with over 50,000 and the atmosphere was electric. The game was going well with us 3-1 to the good with about 10mins left, when Parkes punched Astle's lights out, my first sending off ! no sub keepers in those days, so waggy went in goal. The penalty was converted and the equaliser soon followed ! My father who hadn't been down for about 5 years swore he wouldn't go again, a vow he keep until I took him to the fourth division game v Burnley (which we lost 1-0) in about 86.
    So it was back to going with Janet and the next game was Man Utd . We tried to take our usual place on the enclosure but the gates were shut, as were the North bank and Molineux street, so south bank it was ! I remember queuing with masses of people, predominately in red and white. We had a position about halfway up the terrace on what was another 50k+ crowd. It finished 0-0 and the main thing I recall was the crowd surging forward when Bobby Charlton took the ball over the halfway line.
    Well that was me hooked and I have missed about 20 or so home games since then.
     
  9. highlandwolf

    highlandwolf Senior Member

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    What memories...

    My first memory is not about football (I cant remember who we played) but would be late 1950s. My dad took me to the Molineux on the back of his push bike (he had constructed some sort of platform/seat I could sit on - way before heath and safety). He wheeled the bike down someones garden path (roughly where Asda is now), then through into the back garden and parked his bike along with hundreds of others, paying around 1p in current money. Even then I wondered how he would ever find his exact bik
     
  10. highlandwolf

    highlandwolf Senior Member

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    .... oh *******s - pressed post reply by mistake. Carrying on...

    his exact bike; perhaps he never did - they all looked the same to me.

    Does any one else have recollections of this?
     

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