From the exuberance of Peter Broadbent’s all-conquering shirt with a bump back to the early 2000s. These were difficult times to be a Wolves supporter and the joy we felt as we enjoyed a Bull-assisted charge up through the divisions had dissipated. We had stalled. A few ‘almost’ seasons in the play-offs had dampened spirits, we had lost the iconic Goodyear sponsorship after 12 years, were running around in home-made, own-brand ‘WWFC‘ kits and we had just suffered a bizarre capitulation that allowed West Brom to overtake us.
- Season(s): 2002-2004
- Finished: First Division, 5th (promoted as Play-off winners), Premier League, 20th (relegated).
- Style: 7/10
- Popularity: 8/10
- Quality: 9/10
- Collectability: 7/10
- Estimated price: Replica £35+
We were of course denied promotion in the play-offs after being sat in the automatic promotion spots for the majority of the campaign and our hopes of returning to the top flight for the first time since 1984 cruelly dashed. That’s football. It was hoped that this new season would give us new hope, but in reality not many of us held out much hope. Maybe a new brush would sweep clean in the form of some big changes encapsulated in a rather smart new home and away kit, manufactured by Admiral:
- A lighter gold colour (after two years wearing a darker “old gold” style) with an almost bronze hue
- A return to the club’s traditional all-white away look
- A ‘proper’ manufacturer
- The binning of the ASDA George-designed Wolf head and the advent of the hexagon-themed emblem that persists to this day?
- And a smart new sponsor? Actually no, OK Doritos it was then:
The Admiral shirts not only harked back to a more ‘modern’ tone as far as Wolves were concerned but they also had a more textured and open weave to the fabric, similar to older shirts.
They were hard-wearing and sold very well at the time. Many Wolves supporters had waited a long time for their time at the top table and there was a rush in time for the Playoffs, as a packed Millennium Stadium (they were busy wrecking Wembley) saw us brush aside Sheffield United in a fantastic and frantic match. I don’t think I’ve heard a noise like it when Kennedy hit that sweet, sweet left-footed bullet past the keeper after great work from Kenny Miller. I, like many others, slept in this shirt queueing overnight for tickets to get to that match. Wolves hadn’t said they were releasing tickets yet but they also hadn’t not said they were releasing tickets which was enough for many supporters to start queueing up behind the North Bank. I think someone started a barbeque at some point – the memory is hazy for some reason.
The momentum and late form that saw us grab fifth place… didn’t carry into the Premier League, or Premiership as it was called at that point but we had a taste for it… and would be back.
The sponsor wasn’t great but it paid the bills. We got a couple of million for that which at last check is worth about 4 Oleg Luzhnys. Or a Carl Cort.
Division One Rubbish in Tatty Orange Shirts the jealous Albion called out as they passed us on the way down as we moved up to the top table. We didn’t care. This was a special shirt and we had broken our duck. At last. The adventure wouldn’t last but that wasn’t really the point. We were no longer the longest-serving members of that second tier ‘division from hell’ and we would learn, lick our wounds and be back. Not soon as it happened but that’s a story for another blog.