Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.
|Full name||Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||Wolves, The Wanderers|
|Founded||1877, as St. Luke's|
|Head coach||Paul Lambert|
|Website||Club home page|
Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club i// (commonly referred to as Wolves) is a professional association football club based in the city of Wolverhampton, West Midlands. The club was originally known as St. Luke's FC and was founded in 1877 and since 1889 has played at Molineux. They compete in the Championship, the second highest tier of English football, having been promoted from League One in 2014 after a solitary season at that level.
Historically, Wolves have been highly influential, most notably as being founder members of the Football League, as well as having played an instrumental role in the establishment of the European Cup, later to become the UEFA Champions League. Having won the FA Cup twice before the outbreak of the First World War, they developed into one of England's leading clubs under the management of ex-player Stan Cullis after the Second World War, going on to win the league three times and the FA Cup twice more between 1949 and 1960. It was during this time that the European Cup competition was established, after the English press declared Wolves "Champions of the World" following their victories against numerous top European and World sides in some of British football's first live televised games.
Wolves have yet to match the successes of the Stan Cullis era, although, under Bill McGarry, they contested the first-ever UEFA Cup final in 1972 and won the 1974 League Cup, a trophy they lifted again six years later under John Barnwell. However, financial mismanagement in the 1980s led to the club's very existence being under threat as well as three consecutive relegations, before a revival and back-to-back promotions under manager Graham Turner and record goalscorer Steve Bull saw them finish the decade in the Second Division, winning the Football League Trophy along the way.
Despite the financial backing of then-owner Sir Jack Hayward during the next decade, they were unable to regain a place in the top flight until 2003, when manager Dave Jones ended their nineteen-year exile but only for a solitary Premier League season. The club returned for a three-year stay at the top level after Mick McCarthy led them back as Football League Championship champions in 2009, but his dismissal in 2012 preceded relegation back to the Championship. The following season saw two further managers dismissed as the club then suffered a second relegation, ending up in League One. However, in the following season they gained promotion back to the Championship where they currently reside. The club's current head coach is Paul Lambert, who took charge in November 2016, within months of the club being taken over by the Chinese investment group Fosun Group.
The club was founded in 1877 as St. Luke's by John Baynton and John Brodie, two pupils of St Luke's Church School in Blakenhall, who had been presented with a football by their headmaster Harry Barcroft. The team played its first-ever game on 13 January 1877 against a reserve side from Stafford Road, later merging with local cricket and football club The Wanderers to form Wolverhampton Wanderers in August 1879. Having initially played on two different strips of land in the town, they relocated to a more substantial venue on Dudley Road in 1881, before lifting their first trophy in 1884 when they won the Wrekin Cup, during a season in which they played their first-ever FA Cup tie.
Having become professional, the club were nominated to become one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888, in which they played the first Football League match ever staged (against Aston Villa). They ended the inaugural season in third place, as well as reaching their first FA Cup Final, losing 0–3 to the first "Double" winners, Preston North End. At the conclusion of the campaign the club relocated for a final time when they moved to Molineux.
Wolves lifted the FA Cup for the first time in 1893 when they beat Everton 1–0, and added a second triumph in 1908, two years after having dropped into the Second Division. After struggling for many years to regain their place in the top division, the club suffered a further relegation in 1923, entering the Third Division (North), which they won at the first attempt. Eight years later Wolves regained their top-flight status after winning the Second Division title under Major Frank Buckley. With Buckley at the helm the team became established as one of the leading club sides in England in the years leading up to the Second World War, as they finished runners-up in the league twice in succession, as well as reaching the last pre-war FA Cup Final, in which they suffered a shock defeat to Portsmouth.
When league football resumed, Wolves suffered yet another final day failure in the First Division: Just as in 1938, victory in their last match would have won the title but a 1–2 loss to title rivals Liverpool gave them the championship instead. This game had been the last in a Wolves shirt for Stan Cullis, and a year later he became manager of the club. In Cullis's first season in charge, he led Wolves to a first major honour in 41 years as they beat Leicester to lift the FA Cup, and a year later, only goal average prevented Wolves winning the league title.
The 1950s were by far the most successful period in the club's history. Captained by Billy Wright, Wolves finally claimed the league championship for the first time in 1953–54, overhauling local rivals West Bromwich Albion late in the season. Two further titles were soon won in successive years (1957–58 and 1958–59), as Wolves cemented their position as the premier team in English football, becoming renowned for both their domestic success as well as their staging of high-profile "floodlit friendlies" against top club sides from around the world. Perhaps the most famed of these saw Wolves defeat a Honvéd side that included many members of the Hungarian national team that had recently humbled England twice, leading the national media to proclaim Wolves "Champions of the World". This became the final spur for Gabriel Hanot, the editor of L'Équipe, to propose the creation of the European Cup (later rebranded as the UEFA Champions League), which Wolves were to become one of the first English clubs to participate in.
Although the decade opened with a fourth FA Cup victory and almost the first double of the twentieth century, the 1960s saw Wolves begin to decline. Cullis was sacked in September 1964 in a season that ended with relegation and the club's first spell outside the top division in more than thirty years. This exile would last only two seasons though, as they were promoted in 1967 as runners-up. During the close season in 1967, Wolves played a mini season in North America as part of the fledgling United Soccer Association league which imported clubs from Europe and South America. Playing as the "Los Angeles Wolves", they won the Western Division and ultimately the championship by defeating the Eastern Division champions Washington Whips in a final decider.
The club's return to the English top flight heralded another period of relative success under Bill McGarry, with a fourth place in 1971 qualifying them for the newly created UEFA Cup. En route to the UEFA Cup final, they defeated the likes of Juventus and Ferencváros before losing to their countrymen Tottenham Hotspur 2–3 on aggregate; a 1–2 home defeat in the first leg proving decisive. They lifted silverware though two years later, when they won the League Cup for the first time by beating Manchester City 2–1 in the final. Despite relegation again in 1976, Wolves bounced back at the first attempt as Second Division champions and, under manager John Barnwell, the turn of the decade saw them finish in the top six and win the 1980 League Cup, when (then) record-signing Andy Gray scored the only goal of the final to defeat European champions Nottingham Forest.
The multimillion-pound rebuilding of the Molineux Street Stand in 1979 was to be the catalyst for the club's near-financial ruin during the next decade as difficulties in repaying the loans taken out to fund it led to receivership and relegation in 1982. The club was "saved" from liquidation at the last minute when it was purchased by a consortium fronted by former player Derek Dougan. Initially this takeover, financed by two Saudi brothers, Mahmud and Mohammad Bhatti of the company Allied Properties, brought immediate promotion back to the First Division under manager Graham Hawkins, but the Bhattis' failure to sufficiently invest in the club soon saw things unravel as the team suffered three consecutive relegations under different managers through the football divisions, as well as the almost-constant threat of the club being wound-up.
In 1986 with the club again in receivership a deal saw Wolverhampton City Council purchase the club's stadium and surrounding land, while a local developer paid off the club's outstanding debts in return for planning permission to develop the land adjacent to the stadium. The new season saw Wolves' first-ever campaign in the Fourth Division, where, guided by new manager Graham Turner and the goals of Steve Bull (who would ultimately score a club record 306 goals), the team reached the final of the inaugural play-offs but were denied promotion by Aldershot. However, the final two seasons of the decade saw the team achieve both the Fourth and Third Division championship, and also win the Football League Trophy at Wembley in 1988.
Lifelong fan Sir Jack Hayward purchased the club in 1990 and immediately funded the extensive redevelopment of the by-now dilapidated Molineux into a modern all-seater stadium. With work completed in 1993, Hayward turned his investment into its playing side in an attempt to win promotion to the newly formed Premier League. Yet despite this substantial spending neither Graham Taylor nor Mark McGhee could fulfil this, both leading to the team to play-off defeats at the semi-final stage (in 1995 and 1997, respectively).
It was not until 2003 that Wolves were promoted, when they defeated Sheffield United 3–0 in the play-off final under Dave Jones to end a nineteen-year absence from the top level. Their stay proved short-lived though, as they were immediately relegated back to the newly retitled Championship.
After former England manager Glenn Hoddle failed to bring a swift return, the rebuilding of the squad by Mick McCarthy rejuvenated the club with an unexpected play-off finish. The club was bought by Steve Morgan in 2007, and two years later it returned to the Premier League as Championship champions. Wolves successfully battled relegation for two seasons before 2011–12 saw McCarthy's dismissal precipitate the drop under his assistant Terry Connor. Following relegation, Norwegian Ståle Solbakken became the club's first overseas manager but his reign lasted only six months before a poor run of results saw him replaced by Dean Saunders in January 2013, who failed to bring any upturn, culminating in both relegation to League One as well as his own dismissal. Following this, Kenny Jackett was appointed in May 2013 in the retitled position of head coach, and led the team back to the Championship in his first season, setting a new club record points total of 103 in winning League One.
On 21 July 2016, it was confirmed that Fosun Group had bought parent company of the club, W.W. (1990) Limited from Steve Morgan (and his own company Bridgemere Group), for an undisclosed amount, with Jez Moxey stepping down from his role as a CEO. On 29 July 2016, Wolves announced that Kenny Jackett's contract with the club had been terminated,. Former Italian international Walter Zenga was appointed the following day.
After the takeover by Fosun Group, an informal partnership was introduced between between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Benfica. Through the inclusion of Jorge Mendes, three current Benfica players and two former Benfica players moved from their respective clubs to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Summer 2016 transfer window. Zenga was axed and, on 5 November 2016, Paul Lambert was appointed new head coach, with the team dropped in 19th place.
Colours and badge
The club's traditional colours of gold and black allude to the city council's motto "out of darkness cometh light" with the two colours representing light and darkness respectively. Although the team's original colours upon formation were red and white, adopted from the school colours of St Lukes, for much of their history their home colours have been their distinctive old gold shirts with black shorts.
In the early decades of the club a variety of shirt designs using these colours were created, including stripes and diagonal halves, until the continual usage of a plain shirt design since the 1930s. Before the 1960s a darker shade of gold was used, known as "old gold", which is still often cited in the media as the club's colour.
Like most English teams, their earliest shirts usually only featured a badge on special occasions such as cup finals. The first such badge to be worn on Wolves shirts was the coat of arms of Wolverhampton City Council. In the late 1960s, Wolves introduced their own club badge that appeared on their shirts consisting of a single leaping wolf, which later became three leaping wolves in the mid-1970s. Since 1979 the badge has consisted of a single "wolf head" design; the current badge was last redesigned in 2002.
When first founded the club used a field on Goldthorn Hill in the Blakenhall area as its home, which could accommodate some 2,000 spectators. In 1879 they relocated to John Harper's Field on Lower Villiers Street where they remained for two years before a short move to Dudley Road, with the new ground situated opposite the Fighting Cocks Inn. It was here that they played their first ever FA Cup tie in 1883 and their first ever Football League fixture in September 1888. Although the site could only hold 2,500 spectators at first it was eventually developed to be capable of 10,000.
|Renovated||1978–79; 1991–93; 2011–12|
(Billy Wright & Sir Jack Hayward stands)
AFL (Stan Cullis stand)
Atherden & Rutter (Steve Bull stand)
Current design – Alfred McAlpine|
Redevelopment – Buckingham Group
|Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. (1889–present)|
In the summer of 1889 the club moved to its permanent home ever since, Molineux, in the Whitmore Reans area of the city. The stadium name originates from the Molineux House built in the area by Benjamin Molineux, a local merchant, in the 18th century and whose grounds were later developed to include numerous public leisure facilities. When the Northampton Brewery Company purchased these grounds in 1889, they rented their use to the city's football club, who were seeking to find a home more befitting a Football League member. After renovating the site, the first ever official game was staged on 7 September 1889 before a crowd of 4,000. The ground was capable of hosting 20,000 spectators, although English football crowds rarely reached that number in the 19th century.
Wolves bought the freehold in 1923 and soon began a series of ground improvements, beginning with the construction of a major grandstand on the Waterloo Road side. In 1932, the club also built a new stand on the Molineux Street side and followed this by adding a roof to the South Bank two years later; this South Bank was historically the second largest of all Kop ends in the country and regularly held crowds in excess of 30,000. The stadium finally now had four complete stands that would form its basis for the next half century.
In the days before seating regulations, the ground could hold more than 60,000 spectators, with the record attendance being 61,315 for a First Division match against Liverpool on 11 February 1939. The 1940s and 1950s saw average attendances for seasons regularly exceed 40,000, coinciding with the club's peak on the field. During this time Molineux became one of the first British grounds to install floodlights, enabling it to host a series of midweek friendlies against teams from across the globe. In the days prior to the formation of the European Cup and international club competitions, these games were highly prestigious and gained huge crowds and interest with the BBC often televising such events.
When the Molineux Street Stand failed to meet new safety legislation, the club began building a new replacement stand behind the existing one, on land where housing had been demolished. This new all-seater stand – named the John Ireland Stand after the then-club president – was completed in 1979, as the planned first stage of a rebuilding of the entire stadium. The £2 million cost of this stand though made the club's financial situation critical and it entered receivership in 1982. By the time the team dropped into the Fourth Division in 1986, only the John Ireland Stand and the South Bank terrace remained in use after new safety laws implemented following the Bradford City stadium fire forced the closure of both the now-dilapidated North Bank and Waterloo Road Stand, which the club lacked the finance to improve.
Following the takeover of the club by Sir Jack Hayward in 1990, £8.5 million of funding was made available to comprehensively redevelop Molineux. Between August 1991 and December 1993 three sides of the stadium were completely rebuilt to form a 28,525 capacity all-seater stadium that complied with the Taylor Report: the Waterloo Road Stand was replaced by the Billy Wright Stand, the North Bank terrace by the Stan Cullis Stand, and the South Bank terrace by the Sir Jack Hayward Stand (named the Jack Harris Stand until 2015). Aside from the addition of a temporary seating area in the southwest corner used during Wolves' seasons in the Premier League, this redevelopment formed the stadium for almost twenty years.
In 2010 plans were unveiled of an extensive redevelopment programme to enlarge the capacity and develop the facilities. The first stage of this saw a new two-tier Stan Cullis Stand become fully operational for the 2012–13 season, raising the current official capacity to 31,700. The second stage would see the rebuilding of the oldest stand at the stadium (renamed the Steve Bull Stand in 2003) to increase capacity to around 36,000 but this has been indefinitely postponed.
First team squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy is a Category 1 status facility and has produced several high-profile graduates including internationals Robbie Keane and Joleon Lescott. Many other players have gone on to play first team football at Molineux, including current players Danny Batth, Carl Ikeme and Jack Price. The academy is managed by Gareth Prosser and is based at the club's Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground.
Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-21s compete in the newly created Division 2 of the Premier League 2. The club qualify as an entrant in the competition by virtue of their academy holding Category 1 status. Although the league is designed for players aged 23 and below, three overage players may also feature. Home games are primarily staged at AFC Telford United's New Bucks Head home.
Wolves Women became the club's official women's team in 2008. They currently play at the third level of women's football, the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division. Their home games are held at Hednesford Town's Keys Park stadium.
Former players and managers
For details on all former players, see List of Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. players
The club has been represented by numerous high-profile players over the years, most notably Billy Wright, who captained England a record 90 times and was the first player to win a century of international caps, as well as earning the Footballer of the Year Award, an accolade also won by Wolves half-back Bill Slater in 1960. In total, 34 players have won full England caps during their time with Wolves, including the club's record goalscorer Steve Bull, the last of the club's England internationals to appear at a major tournament.
Andy Gray, Emlyn Hughes, Paul Ince and Denis Irwin are all previous League Championship medal winners who have also represented Wolves. Joleon Lescott went on to play for England 26 times scoring once. Robbie Keane went on to become Ireland's all-time leading goalscorer with 68 goals in 146 appearances.
Wolves can be identified as having had 27 different (permanently appointed) managers during the club's existence. The very first manager, George Worrall, was identified by the title of "club secretary", a post that continued until the appointment of a full-time manager in the modern sense was made in 1922.
The most successful of these is Stan Cullis, whose sixteen-year reign brought all three of the club's league championships as well as two FA Cup triumphs. Two other managers have also been inducted into the Club Hall of Fame: Major Frank Buckley and Graham Turner, while Bill McGarry and John Barnwell have both won major trophies in the post-war period. In recent times, both Dave Jones and Mick McCarthy have led the club to the Premier League. Wolves have also been served by two former England national team managers, in Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle.
As well as having numerous supporters' clubs across the United Kingdom, Wolverhampton Wanderers also have an international support base, with supporters' clubs in Australia, United States, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Malta, Iceland and Norway amongst others. They have a particularly sizeable Scandinavian fanbase, due to the area's television coverage of Midlands football in the 1970s when the club were a regular top-flight team; indeed, the first-ever English match shown live in Sweden involved Wolves.
Wolves' longest-established and strongest rivalry is with West Bromwich Albion, against whom the club contest the Black Country derby. The two clubs, separated by twelve miles, have faced each other 160 times; their first competitive clash being an FA Cup tie in 1886. A national survey by The football pools found the rivalry to be the strongest in English football. Both clubs are founder members of the Football League and the two once contested the league title in 1953–54, with Wolves finishing as champions.
Due to their close proximity, Wolves also share rivalries with the two Birmingham clubs, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, both of whom they have faced numerous times dating back to the 19th century. Their closest geographic rival is Walsall but, as they rarely competed at the same level, this is of less significance. As Wolverhampton historically sat in Staffordshire, a Staffordshire derby between them and Stoke City was once recognised.
During the club's peak during the 1950s, the home crowd's signature song was "The Happy Wanderer". In more recent times, "Hi Ho Silver Lining" – a 1967 rock song by Jeff Beck with its chorus modified to "Hi Ho Wolverhampton!" – has become a staple feature of home games. "The Liquidator" instrumental by the Harry J. Allstars was also popularly used in the stadium until a request from the West Midlands Police to cease due to concerns that the obscene lyrics used by some fans during the chorus could incite trouble.
As with all large city football teams the club attracted a number of hooligans in the 1960s. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a hooligan firm named "The Subway Army" would often ambush fans in the subway adjacent to the ground. The group was gradually broken up and virtually ceased to exist due to a large number of arrests – many as part of the police's nationwide "Operation GROWTH" (or "Get Rid of Wolverhampton's Troublesome Hooligans") in the late 1980s.
The club invites interaction with its supporters, and held a Fans' Parliament, usually attended by then-CEO Jez Moxey, which invited independently selected candidates to attend meetings at Molineux every two months up to the acquisition of the club by Fosun in July 2016 An independent fanzine named A Load of Bull (ALOB), in part reference to leading goalscorer Steve Bull, published supporters' views between 1989 and 2012.
Ownership and finances
The club is owned by the Chinese conglomerate group Fosun Group, which purchased the parent company of the club (W.W. (1990) Limited) on 21 July 2016 for a reported £45 million from previous owner Steve Morgan (and his company Bridgemere Group).
Wolves' group parent company, which wholly owns both the "football club company" and the company holding its properties (including its stadium and training facilities), has net assets valued at almost £50 million. In their last published accounts (covering the 2014–15 season), the club achieved a final pre-tax profit of £731,000. Turnover fell to £26.4 million, with the club remaining in receipt of a "parachute payments" from the Premier League until the 2016–17 season. Like most football clubs, significant commercial income is generated from shirt sponsorship deals: Its current affiliation, with the payday lender The Money Shop, is due to run until at least the end of the 2018–19 season.
Fosun purchased from Steve Morgan who had taken ownership in August 2007 for a nominal sum of £10 with the proviso that £30 million was injected into the club, ending an almost four-year search for a new buyer. Morgan oversaw nine full seasons before placing the club on the market in September 2015. He had bought the club from Sir Jack Hayward, a lifelong fan of the club, who had purchased it in 1990 for £2.1 million. During his tenure he invested an estimated £50 million of his personal wealth to rebuild their stadium and fund new players, though the team only achieved one season in the top flight during his seventeen years at the helm despite their increased spending power.
Hayward's takeover greatly improved the club's financial health, having endured a turbulent 1980s in which the club twice was declared bankrupt. In 1982 the club was "saved" from liquidation when it was purchased by two Saudi brothers, Mahmud and Mohammad Bhatti, as part of their company Allied Properties. However, their failure to sufficiently invest in the club saw it face several winding-up orders as well as successive relegations through the football divisions. In 1986 the official receiver was again called in and a deal eventually brokered for Wolverhampton City Council to purchase the club's stadium for £1.12 million, along with the surrounding land, while a local developer, Gallagher Estates, in conjunction with the Asda supermarket chain, agreed to pay off the club's outstanding debts in return for the building of an Asda superstore on land adjacent to the stadium.
In the all-time table since the league's inception in 1888, Wolves sit fifth in terms of all-time league position. Cumulatively, they are the ninth most successful club in English domestic football, behind Manchester City, with thirteen major trophy wins and an overall twenty-three trophy successes (see here).
Football League Trophy (Sherpa Van Trophy)
References and notes
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- "Fans' Parliament". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.
- "Fanzine Focus – A Load of Bull 1989–2012". Junk Archive blog. 30 March 2012.
- "A Load of Bull: End of an era". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 30 March 2012.
- "Fosun Group takes over Wolves". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 21 July 2016.
- "Wolves bought by Chinese conglomerate Fosun International for £45m". BBC Sport. 21 July 2016.
- Report and Financial Statements. W.W.(1990) Limited. 31 May 2015.
- "Wolves publish annual accounts". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 11 February 2016.
- "Football League accept revised parachute payments". BBC Sport. 10 May 2010.
- Previous shirt sponsors were Tatung (1982–86), Benjamin Perry (1986), Staw Distribution (1986–88), Manders Paint & Ink (1988–90), Goodyear (1990–2002), Doritos (2002–04), Chaucer Consulting (2004–09), Sportingbet (2009–13), What House? (2013–15) and Silverbug (2015–16). Historicalkits.co.uk
- "New club main sponsor". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 13 April 2016.
- "Hayward to quit Wolves". BBC Sport. 26 September 2003.
- "Club statement: Steve Morgan". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 28 September 2015.
- "Rich List Profiles: Sir Jack Hayward". Birmingham Post. 23 January 2011.
- "Hayward frees Wolves". The Guardian. 21 May 2007.
- "England – Professional Football All-Time Tables". RSSSF.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.|
- Official Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. site
- Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. on BBC Sport: Club news – Recent results – Upcoming fixtures
- Wolves at Soccerbase