Mighty Wolves, shameful Wolverhampton

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If you want to know why this piece is necessary, click here to see an account of how a grand day out for fans of both Wolves and Sunderland was marred by petty-minded officialdom of the sort that gives petty-minded officialdom a bad name …

After the last game of last season. I wrote a sour little description, under the heading “Mighty club, petty-minded city”, of the wooden-topped approach of police, local authorities and, unless they are acting under duress, publicans towards ordinary, decent visiting supporters. It was an appalling example of attitudes that were understandable 25 years ago but now bring shame on the city.

This, in part, is what I wrote in May:

Last game of the season. Two clubs already safe (though our second-half display was to resemble that of a team doomed since February). No obvious history of animosity. A changeable day but with bursts of warm sunshine. A drink and maybe some food before the match?

Maybe. But, if you were a Sunderland supporter in Wolverhampton city centre today, only if you were very lucky.

Pub after pub had bouncers posted on the door to enforce home fan only rules – even the pubs listed in the Sunderland Echo guide to matchday as being more welcoming to those visiting their city and wishing to boost its economy a little.

Three men, age aggregate in the region of 180, wandered disconsolately from one hostelry to another. At the most, specks of red were just about visible on the collar lines of my jumper and another supporter’s jerkin. Did we have Mackem stamped on our foreheads?

At one pub, the No on the door sat oddly with the sight of a Sunderland banner draped over the back of a chair by the window. “Yeah, they got here before we did,” moaned one of the bouncers. Well-meaning directions to friendly pubs led to more disappointment. Small groups of perfectly well behaved Sunderland fans were everywhere, but almost always on the outside.

A Yates pub, with its grim selection of yellow fizz and keg, proved our salvation. I had by then removed my SAFC home top from beneath the jumper – not a pretty Sunday afternoon spectacle for innocent passers-by – and two of us marched inside without challenge. That speck of red almost did for our friend, a quiet, peaceable businessman who was stopped, told he couldn’t enter and finally shepherded inside after he persuaded the door staff that he was a man of 61 seeking only food and a beer.

Anyone who made straight for the ground was greeted by signs saying no alcohol would be on sale. “Crazy,” said a policeman. “They were quite happy to sell it to Chelsea fans when they came. As for banning you from pubs, we’d rather you were there: then we know where you are and if there is trouble, we can close the place down.”

An amiable Wolves fan we met in the street agreed. “Last game, nothing at stake, people just want some harmless fun.”

The Sunderland Echo‘s regular “awayday” writer Brian Patterson takes a similar view. In this year’s preview, he says he thought of labelling Wolverhampton “the worst away place outside London and Wales for away supporters to go for an unintimidating pre-match pint” – until he remembered Leeds and Barnsley.

He called the home fans-only city centre policy a “most damning indictment on any town’s hospitality” and he was right; it is a measure, as he adds, that may have been “OK in the dark days of the 80s but … is just not on in the 21st century. Shame on you Wolverhampton publicans, Shame on you Wolverhampton police. Worse still, shame on you Wolves fans.”

I was with Brian until those last few words. I do NOT blame Wolves fans, even though, as with any club, they include some cretins.

But who could not recognise the decency and friendliness of Andy Nicholls, our Wolves “Who are You?” candidate (see this if you haven’t already)?

And were these not the comments posted BY Wolves supporters after my article in May?

Grace

Lads

Try The Great Western next yr, its just round the corner from the train station in Sun St & is a proper pub one of the few in Wolverhampton, I know away fans use it & its in the CAMRA guide, about 10 mins walk from the ground.

John

There were plenty of fancy dressed Mackems in and around the Goalpost pub just down the Waterloo road from the ground before the match, but they were being closely observed by several members of the local constabulary.

Petty minded doesn’t even begin to describe match policing in Wolverhampton, be thankful you only have to come once a year!


DANCESWITHWOLVES

Hi lads, enjoyed your visit today, had excellent banter with your fans, for next season you need to drink in the “Goal Post”, 5 mins from Molineux, away fans friendly!
Good luck next season!!

Fella

Couldn’t agree more about what you are saying regarding the pub situation, it’s our police & PC rubbish council, they seem to have forgotten we live in a democratic society!!!

I was going to make the headline “Mighty Wolves, shameful Wolverhampton revisited”. But I cannot make the game. Maybe fans of both clubs can let us know how it goes this time, especially in view of the suggestions made in those comments.


* Salut! Sunderland stated in May that whoever was responsibe for the policy “should hang their heads in shame. Wolverhampton Wanderers is historically a mighty club, as the names of the Molineux stands – Billy Wright, Stan Cullis – remind us; the city, sadly, shelters pockets of thinking that haven’t moved on, as football has, from the dark age of hooliganism.” However, we welcome any response from individuals in a position to defend the attitude described. All comments face a short delay for moderation, not to deny the right of reply to petty-minded officialdom, but to control spam.


Monsieur Salut

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10 thoughts on “Mighty Wolves, shameful Wolverhampton”

  1. As someone has already stated, the Clarendon in Chapel Ash, beside the Banks’s Brewery is a good call, but wander a little further down that road, just beyond the traffic lights and you’ll find The Combermere Arms on your right hand side. A small very traditional pub on the end of a terrace, they sell the local Banks’s and a good selection on guest real ales. Cobs and rolls are also available for soakage. Just make sure you get there early as the bar is tiny and queues can often filter out of the front door!!! There’s also a large smoking area out back and outside toilets with a tree growing through the gents, which adds character. Oh yeah – It’s away fan friendly, most importantly.

  2. Might I suggest, if you are after a pre-game curry, the Shere Punjab on the Newhampton Road. Lager is decent and the curry magnificent. I’ll be there with my old man and we’d be delighted to take whatever stick you can think of! The postcode is WV1 4BB for all you Sat Nav folk!

  3. I remember the Sunderland fans in the 70’s taking over the South Bank, wearing pit boots & pit hats & kicking hell out of anything not wearing ref & white. Such adorable people

  4. I have often pondered just how far the police have a legitimate power to prevent ordinary citizens doing everyday activities in their so called efforts to “prevent trouble”. In the eighties whilst my brothers were taking part in the miners’ strike, I lived in a mining town in the Midlands where all but the dirty thirty carried on working. I was stopped a couple of times returning home after going back to the North East, because my car had a N**c***l* registration.

    Have had the same trouble finding a pub for years at Wolves. Most notable memory of our games there was when Kevin Ball scored the only goal with two minutes to go.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SDweLqdwQk

    Leaving the ground after that match I was spat at and called a F****** Geordie B******. My response was hardly original and most Sunderland fans will have worked it out but just in case you haven’t it was “Call me a B******* but don’t call me a Geordie!” 🙂

  5. (Hammer, via Salut! Sunderland)

    We – West Ham – had exactly the same problem, got treated like scum. On the train back a copper walked through the carriage and said that any west ham fan getting off before or at Birmingham would be arrested.

  6. It’s the policy of the police not the landlords. On match days the Police tell them to put bouncers on the doors. On local derbies they tell the pubs to close. If they don’t they risk losing their license. When we got promoted in the play offs, instead of going back home to London, I thought I would celebrate in Wolverhampton. Got up there to find the Police had closed all the pubs for prevention not actual trouble. When we went up as Champions the police said we couldn’t have a open bus parade due to H&S reasons.

  7. Theres also the Blue Brick pub just below the train station. Out of station doors turn immediately right down a covered stairway and its in the group of buildings opposite. Not to far from Molineux and as far as I know away fan friendly. Enjoy the game!

  8. There’s also the Clarendon, which is a little walk out of the city centre, right next to Banks’s Brewery. It’s away friendly and absolutely heaving before every home game, making for a good atmosphere. There are always enough bar staff on to keep the flow of ale high. Drinks are cheap too – £2.15 for a guset beer, ~£2 for a pint of Banks’s.

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