The Revolving 1980s Molineux Door

Another guest blog today from Peter Crump.

Following on from the Groundhopping article where we looked at the merry go round of English Football League grounds that Wolves featured at in the 1980s we now look at another large number that we can bring to life from Wolves and the 1980s. This is the number of players that were used within the decade.

We have to bear in mind a few facts. Subs were first permitted in the English league in the 1965/1966 season. During this season and the 1966/1967 season teams could make one substitute during the match. The first ever substitute used in English Football was on 21st August 1965. This honour is held by Keith Peacock of Charlton Athletic who replaced injured Charlton keeper Mike Rose. Younger fans and particularly Wolves fans that travelled to Chelsea for the 1994 FA Cup Quarter Final will know Keith’s son, Gavin Peacock. We did make enquiries to sign Gavin Peacock in fact in 1996. Bobby Knox was the first sub to score a goal. He scored for Barrow against Wrexham on the same day as Peacock came on. Fred Goodwin was the first Wolves sub used on 16th October 1965 who replaced Ernie Hunt in our home game against Middlesbrough in the Second Division. By 1987 clubs were then allowed 2 subs. In 1994/1995 this increased to 3 however one had to be a goalkeeper. In 1995/1996 they removed the need for one of the 3 subs to be a keeper. The sub rule now is vast and of course if certain Premier League Managers had their way there would be more subs on the bench than players on the pitch.

The 1980s

The Wolves team was reasonably settled in the first 4 full seasons of the 1980s. In 1980/1981 we used a total of 24 different players in all competitions. We of course that year competed on 4 fronts namely the First Division, League Cup and UEFA Cup. We also got to the FA Cup Semi Final. This run also included 4 replays. This season we had the same manager for the whole season – John Barnwell. Wolves that year played a total of 55 competitive matches. In 1981/1982 new faces in Alan Birch and Joe Gallagher arrived. There were also debuts for Bob Coy, Anthony Kernan. John Pender and John Humphrey. We also however had players such as Emlyn Hughes, John McAlle, Mick Kearns leave the Wolves by the start of 1981/1982. There was a steady flow of arrivals and departures as is normal. The quality between the two could be questioned however that is another debate.

In 1981/1982 Wolves used 25 different players in 45 competitive matches. We of course were relegated this season. We also had 3 different managers during the season namely, John Barnwell, Ian Ross (Caretaker) and Ian Greaves. In 1982/1983 we saw the arrival of the new consortium headed by Derek Dougan. This was of course Allied Properties aka the Bhatti Brothers. This initially led to a promotion. This season Wolves used 21 players in 46 competitive matches. John Burridge, Alan Dodd, Billy Kellock all arrived before or during this season. There were also debuts for youngsters Paul Butler, Ian Cartwright, Billy Livingstone, Dale Rudge and David Wintersgill. By this point however many players had left such as Derek Parkin, George Berry, Hugh Atkinson, Alan Birch, Colin Brazier, Willie Carr, Mick Hollifield, Anthony Kernan, Craig Moss, John Teasdale and Rafael Villazan. This season also saw us have the one manager in Graham Hawkins. The 1983/1984 season then saw the number of players increase drastically for this era of football. This season was of course our first relegation of the 3 in a row. Wolves used 32 different players this season in Division 1 in 47 competitive games. Mike Bennett, Andy Blair, Mark Buckland, Danny Crainie, Steve Mardenbrough, Scott McGarvey, Gordon Smith, Tony Towner and Sammy Troughton all joined the Wolves before or during this campaign. Youngsters Graham Rodger and Stuart Watkiss also appeared. Wolves had two managers this season in Graham Hawkins and then Jim Barron in a caretaker capacity. Jim Barron gave debuts to youngsters Paul Dougherty, Joe Jackson and Martin Bayly. Joe Gallagher, David Wintersgill and John Richards had all left the club by this season. In Joe Gallagher’s case he was effectively sacked.

1984/1985 was of course relegation number 2 as we dropped out of the Second Division. Wolves this season used 30 players in a total of 48 games. Alan Ainscow, David Barnes, Scott Barrett, Steve Biggins, Mick Coady, Tony Evans, Ray Hankin, Ricky Herbert, Andy King, Tommy Langley, Jim Melrose, Nicky Sinclair and Peter Zelem all signed before or during this season. Youngsters Steve Blackwell, Cavan and Campbell Chapman, Tim Flowers, David Heywood, Derek Ryan were also given atleast a first team opportunity. Even Peter Eastoe returned briefly. Wolves had of course by then said goodbye to Mike Bennett, Andy Blair, Paul Bradshaw, John Burridge, Wayne Clarke, Bob Coy, Peter Daniel, Mel Eves, Andy Gray, Kenny Hibbitt, Joe Jackson, Billy Kellock, Billy Livingstone, Steve Mardenbrough, Mick Matthews, Scott McGarvey, Graham Rodger, Dale Rudge, Gordon Smith, Tony Towner, Sammy Troughton and Stuart Watkiss had all departed the club or by this point or were out of the first team picture. This was a huge turnaround of players. Also, by this season only Geoff Palmer was left from the League Cup Final in 1980. Palmer was also coming to the end of his first spell with the club. He would leave during the following season. This season was of course the season under Tommy Docherty. Another player arrived just before Tommy Doc departed namely Steve Stoutt. He was The Docs last major signing but never played a competitive game for The Doc. He only played in Malta for him in the post season tour.

1985/1986 saw Wolves in Division 3 and sadly again a relegation. This year saw Wolves use a decade high of 33 players in 51 matches. Both Sammy Chapman, Bill McGarry and Sammy Chapman again tried everything to arrest our slide. The main signings during the Summer were Jon Morrissey, Neil Edwards and John Purdie. During the course of the season, we also saw Dean Edwards, Roger Eli, Micky Holmes, Andy Mutch, Keith Lockhart, Geoff Lomax, Stacey North, Willie Raynes, Robert Rosario, Floyd Streete, Kim Wassell, Clive Whitehead all arrive at various points. Youngsters Nicky Clarke and Richard Smith also saw first team action. Even Bob Hazell came back for 71 minutes. Martin Bayly, Steve Biggins, Steve Blackwell, Mark Buckland, Paul Butler, Cavan Chapman, Alan Dodd, Peter Eastoe, Tony Evans, Ray Hankin, David Heywood, Tommy Langley, Jim Melrose, and Nicky Sinclair had all gone. Again, Hankin was also effectively sacked. The two biggest departures in the Summer of 1985 were without doubt John Humphrey and John Pender who both moved to Charlton. Mick Coady also left the club but he failed a medical at Lincoln and therefore stayed for a brief period. During this season Danny Crainie was also playing out of contract on a week-by-week basis. Dean Edwards also did not have a proper contract straight away either. Alan Ainscow, Mick Coady, Ricky Herbert and Danny Crainie were released during this season. In the case of Robert Rosario, Stacey North, Kim Wassell, Clive Whitehead, Jon Morrisey and Willie Raynes they were gone petty much as quickly as they arrived. To put even more perspective on the 3 consecutive relegations. 71 different players appeared for the Wolves first team on at least one occasion from Saturday 22nd August 1983 when we played Liverpool at home in the first game of the Division 1 campaign to Monday 5th May 1986 when we played Lincoln City away in the final game of the Division 3 campaign. This is an astonishing number of players. The full list are as follows; Martin Bayly, Mike Bennett, Andy Blair, Paul Bradshaw, Mark Buckland, John Burridge, Paul Butler, Ian Cartwright, Wayne Clarke, Bob Coy, Danny Crainie, Peter Daniel, Alan Dodd, Paul Dougherty, Mel Eves, Andy Gray, Kenny Hibbitt, John Humphrey, Joe Jackson, Billy Kellock, Billy Livingstone, Steve Mardenbrough, Mick Matthews, Scott McGarvey, Geoff Palmer, John Pender, Graham Rodger, Dale Rudge, Gordon Smith, Tony Towner, Sammy Troughton, Stuart Watkiss, Alan Ainscow, David Barnes, Scott Barratt, Steve Biggins, Steve Blackwell, Campbell Chapman, Cavan Chapman, Mick Coady, Peter Eastoe, Tony Evans, Tim Flowers, Ray Hankin, Ricki Herbert, David Heywood, Andy King, Tommy Langley, Jim Melrose, Derek Ryan, Nicky Sinclair, Peter Zelem, Nicky Clarke, Dean Edwards, Neil Edwards, Roger Eli, Bob Hazell, Micky Holmes, Keith Lockhart, Geoff Lomax, John Morrisey, Andy Mutch, Stacey North, Jon Purdie, Willie Raynes, Robert Rosario, Richard Smith, Steve Stoutt, Floyd Streete, Kim Wassell and finally Clive Whitehead. There is of course in there a mixed bag of players. Some of the players had done great work for Wolves prior to this. Kenny Hibbitt is on the list and he is of course without doubt a club legend. Hibbitt however during this period was of course getting past his best. Bradshaw, Eves, Daniel and Gray were of course all League Cup Winners and in the case of Geoff Palmer a double League cup winner like Hibbitt. All of these players however were also getting past their best either through injuries in Bradshaw and Eves case or simply age. Andy Gray and Peter Daniel were also sold and probably still had more to offer at the club. Bob Hazell also came back but his return lasted little more than 1 hour. Many of the other players on the list were very young too. Bayly, Dougherty, Matthews, Livingstone, Cartwright, Butler, Ryan, Richard Smith, Purdie, Neil Edwards to name a few. Some of the young lads at this time were thrown in at the deep end and not really integrated into the team in the correct way due to circumstances at the club. Some of those lads of course made their debuts before this period in question. This for me may have affected their careers. Wayne Clarke is a good example. He was integrated into the Wolves first team in the right manner over a few years after making his debut in March 1978. Of course, for the first part of Clarkes career we were a better side however on the other side of the coin he was given time too. Yes, he had the ability but he was also nurtured properly. He went onto show what a very good player he was after his time at Wolves. Wolves also lost good players in this period too due to the downward trajectory and financial problems the club were under. Wayne Clarke mentioned and John Humphrey the two that stand out the most that were under the age of 25. John Burridge older than this however he was a very good keeper and also a good example to young players with his fitness regime and his experience. John Pender was also a first team regular that we lost in the early stages who still had lots more to give. Another was of course Tim Flowers who of course went onto the become a Champion of England. Flowers, Burridge, Bradshaw and Barratt all kept goal in this period and this position was probably one of the most settled. John Burridge played most of the games in 1983/1984 baring a 12-game spell for Bradshaw. Tim Flowers was very nearly ever present in 1984/1985 with Scott Barratt only playing 3 games that year. Tim Flowers and Scott Barratt both kept goal in 1985/1986 with Barratt appearing on only 5 fewer occasions than Flowers. This season however Flowers at one point was sent out on loan to Southampton before he came back and then joined them permanently in July 1986. It was clear that the club were obviously trying to sell Flowers to raise money and cash in on an asset. Both Flowers and Barrett are classic examples of being thrown in at the deep end. In the Summer of 1984 Burridge and Bradshaw left. There is no doubt that Flowers was promising and proved what a great keeper he was in his career. Truth is however when he made his debut in August 1984 against Sheffield United, he was the only keeper at the club. Barratt didn’t arrive until later in the season. He arrived from also way down the pyramid, Ilkeston. The players above are a huge list and can be categorised into many different categories. The recruitment in the period was of course down to the financial problems but it was short terms loans, short-term full-time contacts, bargain basement buys, free transfers. Wolves literally tried everything and everyone. Some players who also came in were past their best, some were plucked out of non-league and reserve teams. All of the players however were playing for the Wolves at a very tough time. Many of the players above need a pat on the back however as they did help to keep us going in our hour of need. There was of course some awful bad luck in this time too. Neville Hamilton is of course not on the list but would be if he hadn’t had the heart attack in the Summer of 1984 which ended his career and nearly his life. Neil Edwards was another who looked very promising and suffered a cruciate ligament injury in October 1985. Mel Eves ruptured his Achilles tendon against Watford in May 1984. Bob Hazell came back and also ruptured his Achilles tendon too against Bristol Rovers in September 1985. These are 4 very bad injuries that either ended careers in Hamilton’s case or definitely affected the other 3 players as they were never really the same players again. There were however some key signings. Sammy Chapman signed Andy Mutch and Micky Holmes and he signed Nicky Clarke on professional forms too. Bill McGarry in his brief return signed Floyd Streete. Tommy Doc just before he left signed Steve Stoutt. Doc also signed David Barnes too. All of the players mentioned would either help us turn the club around to face the right direction or be adequate players or in Mutches case become a hero. After Wolves had been saved in Summer of 1986 the player situation did not calm initially. In 1986/1987 we used 31 players in 58 competitive games. The season saw Brian Little in charge until 16th September 1986 and then of course Graham Turner. Ally Roberston was Littles key signing. We also saw Vince Bartram, Chris Brindley, Brian Caswell, Matt Forman, Matt Hellin, Ian Handysides, Rob Kelly, Mark Kendall, Eric Nixon, Darren Oldroyd all don the Wolves shirt this season. Of course, Steve Bull, Andy Thompson Robbie Dennison made their debuts. Even Barry Powell also made some appearances as player coach and did the season after too. This season we can read in the early stages of Graham Turners reign how he did battle over the first couple of months to find his best side. During the second half of the campaign the team however did appear to settle down. By this point Ian Cartwright, Campbell Chapman had also left and most notably Tim Flowers in July 1986 just before the takeover. He is probably the last player that was sold under the Bhatti’s. This season of 86/87 also saw Geoff Palmer leave for the Police force 10 days into Turners reign. Palmer had played one game under Brian Little however. Palmer had taken over as Player Coach. He had effectively moved into Brian Littles shoes when Little became the Caretaker Manager. It must also be noted that Graham Turner did not have a proper contract at Wolves until September 1988.The final two full seasons of the 1980s in 1987/1988 and 1988/1989 saw us win the Division 4 and 3 league titles and the Sherpa Van in 1988. The number of players used also settled back down to the levels of the early part of the decade. 23 players were used in 87/88 in a club record of 61 competitive matches. In 88/89 we used 21 players in 56 matches. We of course had Graham Turner at the helm for both seasons. In 87/88 we saw Phil Chard, Keith Downing, Jackie Gallagher, Bobby McDonald, Phil Robinson, Nigel Vaughan and Mark Venus don a Wolves shirt for the first time. Matt Forman, Matt Hellin, Paul Dougherty, Roger Eli, Ian Handysides, Keith Lockhart, Eric Nixon, Darren Oldroyd, Derek Ryan and Peter Zelem had all left by this point. David Barnes left after only two games of the 87/88 season. By 88/89 Micky Holmes, Jon Purdie and Steve Stoutt had also left. The real main addition was Mick Gooding, Tim Steele and loan signings Mike Stowell and Roger Hansbury. Tom Bennett also made two appearances from the bench that season. Of course, football has now changed. Squads in general are bigger for various reasons. We also of course have more subs that can be used too. Wolves buck the trend slightly as we know Nuno does like to work with a small squad. The figures below however show all of our full season in the 1980s to put what happened into perspective. What a rollercoaster it was. Finally, it was reported that the hinges on the door of the main entrance on the Old Waterloo Road Stand needed some WD40 by November 1986. It never happened as we couldn’t afford a bottle. For those of you who haven’t listened to the Wolf Whistle Podcast by Jason Guy please do. Many of the names in this article have been interviewed. Doug Hope, Greg Fellows, Jim Melrose, Dean Edwards, Vince Bartram, Derek Dodger Ryan, Pee Wee Paul Dougherty, Barry Powell, Joe Jackson, John Barnwell, Graham Turner, Matt Forman, Geoff Palmer, Ally Roberston, Steve Bull, Micky Holmes, Neil Edwards, Mel Eves, John Purdie, Dale Rudge, Robbie Dennison has all been interviewed either in a full podcast or picking their best 11. Jason also has many more players on there from the 1960s onwards. Jason also has just released a new one on Friday. This was Dennis Conyerd who was our Physio from 1982 to 1985. He gave Neville Hamilton the kiss of life twice after that terrible incident in the Summer of 1984. Here is the direct quote from Tommy Doc

“To our Physiotherapist, Dennis Conyerd, of course, particular praise for the way in which he handled the emergency, twice providing mouth to mouth resuscitation before Neville was bundled off into the ambulance”

The way Jason is going he will be tracking down the Milkman we owed the money too in the mid-1980s and the lady behind the chip shop counter in Grimsby that served Greg Fellows. Joking aside they are superb and bring so much of this to life. Here is the link The Wolf Whistle Podcast (podbean.com) Hope you enjoyed todays article. See you next time. In Nuno We Trust. Crumpy

Author: Mark M

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