All Things Footie

Helping the beautiful game keep it's looks since 2001

RSS feed

All Things Footie | Thursday, May 29 | Jordan

Every Dog Has Its Day

As promised, here’s the story of the torment of a Wolves fan and the joy of promotion. Take it away, Tom Green.

Sunday 21 April 2002. Hillsbrough, Sheffield. 14:02 pm.

‘Kevin Cooper dashes down the left wing, picks out Cameron… 1-0 to Wolves!!’

Whole stand goes mental, 50 odd seconds gone, 1-0 up, Sandwell still drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace… 7000 fans start to believe again. Maybe, just maybe we all thought.

Well we all know what happened next. Some five goals and 89 minutes of football later it was all over. Even if we had managed to beat 20th placed Sheffield Wednesday instead of limping to a two-all draw it wouldn�t have been enough. Events south of Sheffield saw to that, where a Crystal Palace side were (and I say this running the risk of it sounding Chris Sutton-esque) doing ‘a Dunfermline’. The goals from Darren ‘big Dave’ Moore and Super Bobby Taylor confirming Sandwell’s Premiership status just rubbed salt even deeper into the wound. (Ask any Wolves fan which Sandwell player they hate most and these two guys would come out on top, trust me.)

The journey back down the M1 was a very morbid affair. On our descent back into the Midlands we were greeted by a sea of navy & white. Old ‘Apollo 2000’ and the infamous ‘green & yellow barcode’ shirts littered the streets all the way back to Stourbridge. Sandwell fans - male and female, young and old - with their chests stuck out proudly, all of them sporting very smug smiles.

Unless you too are a Wolves fan, I believe I can honestly say that no football supporter will ever come close to experiencing this kind of pain. If you could all take a moment to think of your biggest football-supporting nightmare, multiply it by ten, and you still wouldn�t even come close to how I felt that day.

The following week, a crushing first leg 3-1 defeat away to Norwich (who finished sixth), our Premiership dream in tatters and an even bigger, even more depressing journey home.

‘Why do I bother? ’ was the question I asked myself. 392 days, 16 hours & 55 minutes later I realised why.

If it was a match report you expected, then I�m sorry. I�m not really a football reporter. But here it goes.

Errr… Sheffield were shite; we were not. Sandwell are in the Nationwide; we are not. Nineteen years of hurt are over and I cannot find any words to express how good it feels.

I think it was easy to tell from the very start who wanted it more. Was this the same team that staggered to third position 12 months ago? Was this the same team who completely bottled it at Carrow Road in last season’s play-offs? For those of you whose Wolves knowledge is limited you could say no. The additions of Mr Irwin and Mr Ince have undoubtedly helped, granted. I very much hope they both stay at least another season to guide us through what will be a very difficult 2003/2004. Their experience has been vital, but there were another 9 players on that pitch on Monday, all of whom (except Matt Murray - future England no.1) played their part in the infamous ‘self-destruct’ act of 2001/2002. Was that the same Nathan Blake who I saw trudging around moaning and falling on his arse last season? Was that the same Shaun Newton who I saw last year, hiding on the right-wing? The same guy who ran back and forth on Monday covering every blade of grass on the pitch? Was that indeed the same Mark ‘only-at-Molineux-for-the-money’ Kennedy who almost burst a blood vessel expressing his delight at scoring his side’s first goal? The answer is no. These three players were as guilty as most for last years throw-away, yet twelve months later they have come back to prove they are not bottlers, that they aren’t here just for the money and that they too, care just as much about this great club as I do. It’s somewhat questionable whether or not these players (especially Blake & Newton), have a part to play in our maiden Premiership voyage, but this was far from evident in their performances on Monday. And for that I have nothing but total admiration for all of them.

To win the game 3-0 was a dream come true; to be 3-0 up at half-time was nothing short of sheer fantasy. Kennedy�s sixth minute strike would have been worthy of any game. His left-foot at times can only be described as sublime. As for Blake�s goal, I didn�t even see it. One second Mark Kennedy was taking the corner, the next I was on the floor in a noisy scrum consisting of Mr Bingham (some fat kid in a Wolves goalie top) some bloke with in a Wolf mask and a toothless 60 year-old who smelt of gin. Hugs & kisses were exchanged as five strangers were united in total ecstasy. As for Miller’s goal, well he made it himself. Sheffield United’s immobile defence was exposed to the max and as the ball span off Miller’s boot and looped past the helpless Paddy Kenny. The 33,000 Wolves fans started to believe once again.

At half time there were more hugs & kisses. ‘If we f*** this up now I’m supporting Walsall next year!! ’ said one fan in the toilet.

I arrived back at my seat to the news that Mr Sheffield United himself, Neil Warnock had been ‘sent off’ during the interval. This just gets better and better. And then, three minutes into the second half, Steve Bennett awards a penalty to Sheffield. ‘Here we go.’ said one bloke behind me, and for a moment, I thought it too. Then for some reason I looked at the scoreboard. There was Michael Brown, who for once didn’t appear his usual assured, cocky self. He looked nervous. His face just seemed to say ‘I’m gonna scuff this. ’ And scuff it he did. The Wolves end joyous for the forth time in 48 minutes.

The 42-odd minutes that followed were to be honest just euphoric blur. We defended stoutly, and when you see Wayne Allison being thrown on to try and save the day, you knew it was all over.

When the full-time whistle went I couldn�t even begin to describe how I felt, so I’m not even going to try.

I never went to Wembley (well, I went on a guided tour when I was nine), but I can honestly say the atmosphere at The Millennium Stadium was magic. Never has Status Quo sounded as good as they sounded at five past five on Monday afternoon. And I think most other football fans who have sampled the ‘Millennium’ experience would second that opinion. (About Cardiff, maybe not Status Quo.) All the scare-mongers who I’d spoke to previously were talking of 20-mile tail-backs and 5:30 am starts - what rubbish! I left my house at 8:45 and got there at 10:30 with no problems whatsoever. And by the looks of things I wasn�t the only one; it was quite funny going into Starbucks seeing it packed with football shirt-wearing beer bellies and Stone Island-clad hooligans supping on their Café Latté’s.

I got home some time on Tuesday after Mr Bingham and I made a very valiant effort to drink the Welsh capital dry. We giggled like schoolgirls all the way home. I still can’t believe it, and I doubt I’ll even begin to believe it until I see the likes of Giggs and Pires at The Molineux running Lee Naylor ragged sometime next season. Until then though, I’m sure we’ll both have a very, very enjoyable summer - reminiscing the day the ghost of the 2001/2002 ghost was finally put to rest.

I guess it true what they say, ‘Every dog does have its day’ - and this dog’s day was Monday 26th May 2003.

Roll on next season!

Permanent link to this article

10 Previous Articles

  1. Best of 2002–3
  2. Writer’s block
  3. They think it’s all over
  4. The fat lady sings
  5. Roll on May 17
  6. Racist, moi?
  7. Like a puff of smoke?
  8. Always going to happen mkII
  9. Always going to happen
  10. To The Wire