Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Nottingham Forest 2


Saturday 20 January 2018

You looking at me, pal?

The context

Wolves: 11 points clear at the top of the League, unbeaten in 13 games. Forest: frankly ordinary, recently appointed Aitor Karanka their third manager of the season. It was only going to end one way.

The history

Plenty of nostalgia today. Not only was I back home for my Mum’s birthday and in the city where I lived for 14 years, this also happened to be a re-run of one the very first top-flight games I ever saw, back in March 1984.

Wolves Wolves Wolves

On that occasion a Wolves team enduring a torrid season, rock-bottom of the League and destined to remain there, overturned the formbook somewhat with a dramatic last minute winner against Brian Clough’s Forest, in a game that was anything but dramatic.

Him out of Butterflies at No.3

I went to that game with my schoolfriend Spencer, catching an Elcocks’ bus from their garage in Madeley. We stood in what was then known as the Enclosure, the paddock terrace in front of the Waterloo Road stand, behind the benches and beside the players’ tunnel.

Photo courtesy Express & Star

Molineux in those days had a disjointed appearance. The new John Ireland stand was built in the early 80s; unkindly known as Marshall’s Folly, after the then chairman, it all but bankrupted the club – what was even worse, being the intended first phase of a total redevelopment it was about a mile from the pitch. From our subterranean vantage point it was a mere speck in the distance.

“about a mile from the pitch….”

The journey

Not  many people seemed to be going anywhere today. Stafford services was deserted as I made my familiar breakfast stop, and in Telford it was snowing. Even the Wolverhampton ring road was unusually quiet.

The ground

In a curious echo of the Marshall years, Wolves replaced one end of Jack Hayward’s 1990s bowl conversion with a giant stand intended to wrap over the redeveloped Ireland stand, but then ran out of money and got relegated. This structure now famously includes fine views of the said stand’s roof.

These days, and in a vaguely Stalinist way, Ireland’s role in Wolves history has been revised and the stand is named after Steve Bull. Today, though, was about another ex-Wolves centre forward, Cyrille Regis. Regis had died the week before: in the 70s he was a hero to me and to many another boy. Here is his minute’s applause before the match; compare and contrast this view of the Ireland/Bull stand with the picture above.

Never forgotten

Flesh and wine

Of the six of us sampling the unique ambience of the Goalpost pre-match, only three were regular Wolves fans (this too made the result something of an inevitability). I expect they wished we’d stayed there. By the time we left, I was ravenous: I sorted this out at the Masala Express van next to the infamous subway, which is an amenity more grounds should have.

The game

The Wolves players were clearly better, individually. So they should have been, given how much they cost. But for whatever reason it didn’t happen for them today, and a niggling Forest side took full advantage with two deflected goals following poorly-cleared set pieces. It might have been different if Worrall had been sent off on 19 minutes for attempting to take Jota’s leg off above the knee. But it wasn’t.

“This is going well.”

Teams and goals

Wolves: Ruddy, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty (Costa 45), Saiss, Neves (Mir Vicente 78), Douglas (Gibbs-White 45), Cavaleiro, Bonatini, Jota. Unused subs: N.Diaye, Batth, Miranda, Norris.

Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Worrall, Mancienne, Fox, Bouchalakis, Cash, Bridcutt (Clough 69), Osborn, Dowell (Darikwa 83), Brereton. Unused subs: Mills, Traore, Carayol, Henderson,  Vellios.

Goals: Dowell 40. Osborn 43

Attendance 29,052

The Wright stuff.