“Shoooot!” But Neves didn’t take my advice in those final seconds of injury time, despite my years of experience of watching Wolves in all four divisions and my ability to analyse moments in matches in a split second immediately after watching them through the bottom of a Guinness glass.
- Season: 2019-20
- Finished: Premier League 7th; Europa League Quarter Final
- Style: 8/10
- Popularity: 8/10
- Quality: 6/10
- Collectability: 7/10 for the ManBet version; borderline 10/10 for a Wolves foundation one
- Estimated price replica: ManBetX version £50-60
- Estimated price matchworn: ManBetX version £200-250; Wolves foundation version £600+ (depending on the player)
Instead of following my instructions and rushing himself, he looked up and dinked a perfectly-weighted pass over the Besiktas defence to Wolves’ main attacker, I thought. Oh, no: he had given it to a lumbering centre back instead. The whole stadium waited for the inevitable moment of panic at the start of the nose bleed most defenders get when they arrive within thirty metres of the opposition goal and are asked to think with their feet. Yet this wasn’t your typical centre back. This was Willy Boly. He gently took the ball down with his left foot, sat back and lit his pipe, reminisced about observing the wildlife on his regular lovely walks through the Queen Street nature reserve, then dinked the ball home. Quality. There aren’t many goals I’ve enjoyed so much in my thirty-odd years supporting our club. Boly jogged off to enjoy the moment when Coady would speed faster than Adama on a sugar-high and jump on his defensive partner to celebrate. The shirt that Coady was wearing at that moment is the one I’m delighted to say I have been able to pick up and it can be seen below. (See shirt and library pictures. Link: Besiktas 0-1 Wolverhampton: We want to compete to win in Europa League – Conor Coady – BBC Sport)
What makes this shirt so special for me is that it has the classy Wolves Foundation sponsor on it instead of the rather clunky ManBetX one.
To my knowledge Besiktas was the only competitive game in which this was the case. I’ve put the shirts side-by-side below for you to make up your own minds as to which looks best. For me, the answer’s obvious. Not only because the Foundation one is more stylish, but also because it represents the fact that Wolves is more than simply a hulking behemoth that’s basically only linked to an area by a geographical label. It reminds us that this is a city’s team, with a ground right in the heart of the area and which genuinely looks to make a contribution to the region on numerous levels. This should be and is a justified source of pride to us and needs to be maintained if the soul of Wolverhampton Wanderers is to be kept alive.
As to the remainder of the shirt itself: this is quite reflective of the relationship Wolves fans had and have had with Adidas taking over the kit making — it looked promising from a distance, but the reality close up ultimately felt a bit too superficial. The design here is quite classy, especially as part of a kit with the gold socks and shorts we wore vs Besiktas, but the material is not brilliant and so the shirt isn’t great to wear, what with it developing a sweaty feel to it very quickly. The home shirt from 2018-19 certainly looked great and there are fans of the “Mexico” and “Portugal” away tops, but mostly we were simply given repeated patterns handed out to numerous Adidas teams and the less said about the 19-20 “your orange ink cartridge is low” (as opposed to the “curry-diarrhoea yellow” description that is also possible) home shirt the better.
The season was a lot of fun in spells, after a dodgy start, with some great wins in Besiktas and those against Man City, of course, staying strong in the memory. It petered out a bit at the end, with the rather soulless defeat against Sevilla being the start of a similar feel throughout the subsequent challenging 20-21 run for the club that corresponded to the fanless year-or-so in the stadiums and the first noticeable rumblings of discontent with the Fosun ownership.
All of which again goes to show the need for a team like Wolves, in particular, to stay close to its fanbase if it is to achieve both on and off the pitch. That’s all for another shirt’s story, though. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to associate this shirt with the slow-motion brilliance of Boly’s goal in Turkey and the pure joy that Conor Coady expressed in once more being able to celebrate a successful moment as captain of our club.
Games worn with ManBetX sponsor: Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Norwich City, Manchester United (Premier League)
Pyunik, Braga (Europa League)
Manchester United (F.A. Cup)
Aston Villa (EFL Cup)
Games worn with Wolves Foundation sponsor: Besiktas (Europa League)