Wolves Programme Post 9 “When the North Bank Went to Coventry”

Saturday 29th April 1967 -Coventry City V Wolves, Division 2 1966/1967

Wolves were relegated from the top flight at the end of 1964/1965 after their longest run in the top division in our history. We had been in Division 1 since 1932. 1966/1967 was our second season out of the top flight in a row.

During this period, English football clubs were changing their strips. On 16th December 1964 Liverpool travelled to Anderlecht in the European Cup and they wore all red for the first time as their standard home strip, the red shorts replacing their white shorts. This was kept as Bill Shankly believed it intimidated the opposition more. Liverpool still wear this to this day. Bill Shankly started pretty much everything at Liverpool which turned them into one of the greatest and most successful football teams on the planet. Leeds United had also change their strip to all white at the start of decade. It is often believed that this was down to Don Revie. Leeds however changed there kit to all white in September 1960 when they were managed by former Wolves full back John (Jack) Taylor. Taylor you may remember appeared in the Band of Brothers article with his brother Frank. Don Revie became Leeds manager in 1961. He was playing for them at the time of the change however. Other teams followed suite including Wolverhampton Wanderers who for a period in the mid to late 1960s wore an all-gold strip. This was first donned in our first league game of 1965/1966 at Coventry City. This lasted until 1969 when the black shorts returned.

Wolves did not get promoted in 1965/1966. In 1966/1967 however under the management of Ronnie Allen Wolves were top with 3 games to go and the title was in our hands. Wolves travelled to 2nd placed Coventry City managed by Jimmy Hill. We lost that day 3.1 in front of an epic 51455 and a large contingent of Wolves fans. This was the record ever gate at Highfield Road. The Wolves goal that day came from Peter Knowles. This game saw trouble. This Coventry away game and the next few over the next couple of seasons are also the games where the famous terrace chant about the North Bank going to Coventry was born. This again is not to glorify this behaviour just to demonstrate what was happening on the terraces. Even my Dad had to climb over a fence that day at Highfield Road to avoid and get away from fighting on the terraces. He climbed over a fence and jumped into the enclosure in the main stand to get away from it and watched the game from there with mainly Coventry fans. Things were beginning to change on the terraces. The 60s saw fans in general become more mobile so more were travelling to away games on mass. There was also a move towards fans becoming more territorial too.

This was not the only game this season where there had been problems. Another well remembered incident was at the Den on 1st April 1967 when a so called Millwall Boot Boy ran onto the pitch to attack Derek Dougan. There is a famous picture of this. This game at Millwall also saw reports of Wolves fans having problems outside the ground. One story I have been told of that day is one Millwall fan shooting an air rifle at Wolves fans and the traveling coaches.

After this Coventry away game Wolves did beat Norwich at home 4.1 and then lost 4.1 at Crystal Palace. Wolves were promoted in 2nd place and Coventry went up as Champions. For Coventry this was a huge turning point in their entire history. From 1967/1968 to the end of 2000/2001 Coventry remained in the top flight of English football and were not relegated despite some very close shaves, especially in the 1990s. Coventry had never been in the top league before this and then spent 34 consecutive seasons in the top division. When they were relegated however this has also seen another turn in the Clubs fortunes as we all know. What has happened to Coventry City over the past 20 years is nothing short of a disgrace.

Ronnie Allen of course laid some huge foundations for our early to mid-1970s side. Allen recruited some excellent players such as Mike Bailey, Derek Dougan and one of his last pieces of business was paying Bradford Park Avenue £5000 for a certain Kenny Hibbitt. Allen was well renowned as being an excellent coach. He had had also been a fine player in his era at West Bromwich Albion too.

Wolves really had a great opportunity to win the League this season. They simply had to avoid at defeat at Coventry to keep the job in their hands. Despite this we were still promoted after our second full season. There are some iconic photos of this game with fans invading the pitch at the end.

Ronnie Allen is on the list of managers to achieve promotion from Division 2. Major Frank Buckley (1932), Sammy Chung (1977), Mick McCarthy (2009) and Nuno (2018) have all won the Second Division. Ronnie Allen (1967) and Graham Hawkins (1983) have gone up as Runners Up and Dave Jones (2003) of course won the Play Offs.

The Wolves team that played that day at Coventry in front of 51455 were Phil Parkes, Mike Bailey, Bobby Thompson, Peter Knowles, Graham Hawkins, John Holsgrove, Terry Wharton, Ernie Hunt, Derek Dougan, David Burnside and Dave Wagstaffe.

Of course, in that line up we have Graham Hawkins our future manager and lifelong Supporter and also on the above list. We also had Ernie Hunt who played for Coventry later in his career and was in October 1970 part of the famous Donkey Kick goal with future Wolves player at that point Willie Carr.

In the Summer of 1967 Wolves then travelled to LA and competed as LA Wolves. We of course won the tournament. One very important thing that happened in LA. It was not the night out with the Monkees but the discovery of another piece of the jigsaw and a fine player in Frank Munro. Munro went onto be a huge fan favourite and a hero to many fans. Munro played in LA for Aberdeen or Washington Whips as they were called out there. LA Wolves won the final 6.5 after extra time against the Whips.

Thanks for reading. See you next time for somewhere way less appealing that LA.

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