A decade when Albion never lost to old golds

Wolves have big plans for Molineux (Photograph: Bill Boaden)
Wolves have big plans for Molineux (Photograph: Bill Boaden)

There was a time when Albion always beat Wolves - for nearly a decade.

Wolverhampton Wanderers is a football club steeped in history and tradition. Founder members of the Football League in 1888, the West Midlands outfit were once declared "Champions of the World" by the English press following victories over numerous top European and world sides in some of British football's first live televised games in the early 1960s.

Based at Molineux since their 1877 foundation, Wolves won the old First Division three times in the 1950s, contested eight FA Cup finals (four wins), and lost out to Tottenham in the all-English UEFA Cup of 1972.

In the late 1970s, the first two meetings between Albion and the gold-and-blacks ended in 3-2 Goldstone cup defeats to the visitors before something quite strange happened. From December 1979 until September 1989, Albion didn’t lose to Wolves: nine victories, no draws, and no losses, all in the league, with five wins in the West Midlands.

As superb a record as that is, Wanderers were embroiled in the most troubled times of their illustrious 138-year history. Relegated from Division One in 1983/84, they endured three successive relegations and spent 1986/87 in the fourth tier, finishing fourth. Molineux was crumbling, crowds had diminished, and the club’s colourful past counted for nothing as fans genuinely feared for their club’s very existence.

Step forward Steve Bull. Plying his trade for his local club, Tipton Town in the West Midlands Regional League, the striker played four times in the Second Division for fierce rivals West Bromwich Albion before making the short trip north - for the princely sum of £65,000.

Manager Graham Turner - in charge of Hereford United on that famous May day in 1997 - made the gamble and it paid off in spectacular fashion. The Tipton Terrier netted 50-plus goals in two successive seasons as Wolves enjoyed back-to-back titles.

Incredibly, the striker was called up for England - as a Third Division player - and didn’t look out of place, scoring the winner at Hampden Park before travelling to the World Cup in Italia 90. Imagine that happening now.

These days, Wolves are established in the top two divisions and have big plans for the future, centred on increasing Molineux’s capacity - eventually - to 50,000.

Six wins out of seven and Albion’s immediate prospects are looking solid. We still have Elvis Manu’s debut to look forward to, LuaLua to come back from suspension, and Bobby is slowly getting match fit. Add the exciting form of Jamie Murphy into the equation and everything in Chris Hughton’s garden is very rosy indeed.