Wolverhampton Wanderers

Ground No. 1 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 17th January 2004
Result - Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Manchester United
Competition - FA Barclaycard Premier League
Attendance - 29,396

When we had been promoted, this was the first game that just about everyone looked for on the fixtures list, its what every team below the Premiership fights for week in week out, not just the right to be playing the likes of, but the right to be playing Manchester United themselves. They are the biggest club in the world, with all the hype that comes with that, and they are of course, other than your local rivals, the one club above all that you want to beat.

They came to Molineux sitting top of the league and announcing a full strength team to play, including Rio Ferdinand who would be making his last appearance for United, before his ban for missing a drug test kicked in, so we didn’t expect anything from the game, given that even a weakened Man Utd team would probably beat us, it was just a case of hoping that we could keep the goal deficit down to respectable levels.

As usual I had walked up to the pub (The Combermere Arms) to meet everyone before the game, where we had a few pints before walking up from Chapel Ash to the ground. We’d expected there to be Man Utd fans everywhere, but didn’t see any until we got into the ground, where they had sold out their allocation in the lower tier of the Steve Bull stand. Due to the game being shown live on Sky, it had been scheduled for a midday kick-off, but despite this we got to our seats at the usual 10 minutes beforehand, although what wasn’t usual was that the ground was already packed, with not a spare seat to be seen anywhere.

Before the game was due to kick-off apparently there had been a bit of agro in the tunnel, where Paul Ince had refused to bring the Wolves team out of the dressing room, which meant, United captain Roy Keane bought his team out onto the pitch a few minutes before we came out, which was an unusual sight, but Ince’s efforts to wind up his ex-team-mates seemed to have worked when the game kicked off, with them not being able to dominate, or really make anything of their chances. The first half was end to end action, although most of the scares were at our end, but the magnificent Michael Oakes kept their attacks out with a couple of superb saves, meaning that at half time the score was still 0-0.

We came out for the second half, and it started in much the same way as the first, although we were nearly celebrating when Paul Ince’s 20 yard shot smacked against the post. Ince in particular was looking like he was 10 years younger, having a great game, and the rest of the team were inspired by this, although we still couldn’t find a breakthrough.

That came when Rio Ferdinand had to limp off and be replaced by Wes Brown, although it wasn’t without another scare when Oakes made a superb save from Paul Scholes who should have scored. However in the 67th minute, when a Paul Butler header found Kenny Miller in space, he started to run at the Man Utd defence. Wes Brown looked to have Miller under control, but at a crucial moment he slipped, allowing Miller a free run on goal, where he hit the ball from the edge of the area past the oncoming Tim Howard. At that, Molineux erupted. We had actually managed to score a goal against the champions, and a great goal at that. The rest of the game was a bit of a blur, with Man Utd making most of the running and doing their best to claw their way back into it. Forlan, Bellion and Scholes all went close, until with minutes left Van Nistelrooy found space in a packed box to drive a shot towards the bottom left hand corner, only for the inspired Oakes to get a hand to it from nowhere to turn it behind for a corner. It seemed like that was a let off, but there was still the corner to clear. Three minutes of injury time went by agonisingly slowly, but Andy D’Urso eventually blew the whistle to indicate that we had done the impossible, and we had actually beaten one of the worlds greatest teams.

Throughout the game the atmosphere had been superb, and the scenes of celebration at the end was something that will live in the memory for a long, long time. After about 10 minutes of staying behind, clapping the players off the pitch we went back to the pub to have one or two celebration drinks!

Overall it had been an amazing day, with a result that nobody had even seriously thought of prior to kick-off. We hadn't just had an unlikely victory, we really had done the impossible, done what we just shouldn’t have done, it was truly amazing, and a result not just for the Wolves fans to be proud of, but for the entire city, which was buzzing for days afterwards. This was probably the best ever moment in most Wolves fans lives, even better than the play-off final, there’s been videos of the game released since, snippets of the radio coverage played over and over again, but nothing will quite compare to knowing that we were there, actually at the game, and in 50 years time this game will still be spoken about and the feeling of pride will no doubt still be the same. It was truly, a great game, when you think of the best things this club has produced, then the names Billy Wright, Stan Cullis and alike tend to be mentioned most, as well as the famous floodlit matches of the 1950s, well this game was one that can be mentioned in the same breath, and in time, reverence of those long gone nights against Honved, Spartak Moscow, Dynamo Kiev, we as a generation of Wolves fans can hold our heads high and speak of the day where men became giants, and legends were created.

Rear of the Billy Wright Stand

The Billy Wright Statue

Plaque on the statue

The Club Shop

The Stan Cullis Statue

Plaque on the statue

Rear of the Stan Cullis Stand

Rear of the Steve Bull Stand

The Jack Harris Stand Turnstiles

Rear of the Jack Harris Stand

The infamous Subway

View from the Ring Road

The Billy Wright Stand

The Stan Cullis Stand

The Steve Bull Stand

The Jack Harris Stand

The Billy Wright Stand

The Stan Cullis Stand

The Steve Bull Stand

Molineux Panoramic 1
15.01.05 vs West Ham United

Molineux Panoramic 2
15.01.05 vs West Ham United

Molineux Panoramic 3
18.04.09 vs Queens Park Rangers

Molineux Panoramic 4
15.08.09 vs West Ham United

Molineux Panoramic 5
18.08.09 vs Swindon Town


1 comment:

  1. Custard bowl lol..... going down the wolves, going down (8)