Wolves History


Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club began as a schoolboy team when the headmaster of St. Luke's school in Blakenhall, Harry Barcroft, presented a football to a group of pupils who had enjoyed an exceptional year's school work. The presentation of the football was instigated by the co-founders of the team, John Baynton and Jack Brodie. St Luke's FC began life in 1877 and, two years later, after merging with the local cricket team known as The Wanderers, the football club became known as Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The club used two fields - Windmill Field and John Harper's Field - both off Lower Villiers Street in Blakenhall in its formative years, before moving to a site on the Dudley Road opposite the Fighting Cocks Inn in 1881. The only shelter for spectators was a shed. Eight years later, the club moved to a new ground which is still their home today - Molineux.

Wolves became founder members of the Football League in 1888, and they reached their first FA Cup Final a year later when Preston North End triumphed by 3-0. However, success wasn't far away and it was tasted for the first time when Everton were beaten 1-0 at Fallowfield in the 1893 Final. Three years later they reached their third final - this time losing out to Sheffield Wednesday by 2-1.

The club slipped into the Second Division in 1908, and in 1908 they defied all the odds to beat hot favourites Newcastle United by 3-1 in the FA Cup Final at Crystal Palace. The struggle to regain their place in the First Division continued either side of the Great War - but the nearest thing to success came in 1921 in the shape of another FA Cup Final. But Spurs won the game with a single goal at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge home.

Two years later disaster struck when relegation to the Third Division (north) followed an awful season. But, twelve months on, the team bounced back as Champions and, under the guidance of Major Frank Buckley, they finally made it back to the top division after winning Division Two in 1982. In the two seasons leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War, Wolves finished as runners-up in Division One and, in 1939, they also missed out on the FA Cup going down 4-1 to unfancied Portsmouth in the Final.

Stan Cullis finished his playing days after the war and he became manager of the club in 1948. He was to lead Wolves to their greatest days. After capturing the FA Cup in 1949 when Leicester City were beaten 3-1 at Wembley, Wolves enjoyed three Championship successes in the fifties. They won the League in 1953/54, 1957/58 and 1958/59. They returned to Wembley in 1960 to lift the FA Cup again, Blackburn Rovers being the victims this time, and just a point prevented them from winning a third successive Championship, and the double. During those heady days of the fifties, the famous floodlit friendlies took place when some of the great Continental teams of the time, like Moscow Spartak, Moscow Dynamo, Honved and Real Madrid, all came to Moulineux and were beaten. These games led to the development of proper European competition.

In 1964 Wolves controversially ended their association with Stan Cullis. The team slipped into the Second Division for two seasons before returning to the top flight under the guidance of Ronnie Allen.

He was replaced by Bill McGarry who led the team to the UEFA Cup Final against Spurs in 1972, and a League Cup Final victory over Manchester City in 1974. A season in the Second Division in 1976/77, was followed by more glory as the team returned to the First Division as Champions.

In March, 1980, John Barnwell took Wolves back to Wembley where they beat Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final.

But, instead of building on the success, a dark shadow was cast over the club. They were relegated again, in 1982, and a new regime headed by the infamous Bhatti brothers took charge. Though Wolves were promoted in 1983, there was obviously much wrong with the club and there was a dramatic prolapse which led to successive relegations to the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions. Support had dwindled dramatically and Wolverhampton Wanderers were teetering on the brink of extinction.

A change of ownership in 1986 saw a turn around in the club's fortunes. Wolves was saved from extinction by a deal involving the council, Asda Supermarkets and the builders Gallaghers. After narrowly missing promotion in their first ever season in the league's basement, Wolves won the Fourth Division Championship in 1987/88 and also made a winning return to Wembley where they overcame Burnley in the Sherpa Van Trophy. The following season, they clinched the Third Division title.

In May, 1990, Sir Jack Hayward purchased the club from Gallagher Estates, and he paid an estimated 20 million to redevelop the decaying Molinuex stadium transforming it into one of the most modern in the country.

Sadly, despite several more of Sir Jack's millions going towards the financing of new players, the nearest Wolves have come to a place in the Premiership came in 1994/95 when they lost to Bolton Wanderers in a play-off semi-final, and in 1996/97, when Crystal Palace ended promotion dreams, also in a play-off semi-final.

Above text and photo of Billy Wright receiving the FA Cup was uplifted from the main wolves website www.wolves.co.uk. This site is by far the best Wolves site on the internet.   


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