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Molineux - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Saturday 17th August 2002
Vs Burnley, Nationwide League 1, 3pm
By Daniel Kendall

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be)

Molineux is well known as being a tremendous stadium and has been long acknowledged as Premiership standard. Having now been twice I can certainly agree with those who say it is. I would go as far as to say that Molineux wouldn't look out of place in European competition. I always enjoy going to any ground, but going to a bigger, new stadium with passionate fans is all the better. My only worry was how tense the atmosphere would be, after last season's play-off disaster.

2.   How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking

Because I always travel by coach with my supporters club I never have to think about finding the ground but at Molineux the coaches are parked well away at the coach park on Stafford Street across from the University. Away fans are escorted down a hill to Molineux and are taken to right outside the away end in the John Ireland Stand. Molineux is clearly visible from Stafford Street (A449) that is a busy main road. From what I have seen on being driven into Wolverhampton I would recommend not leaving it too late on getting to the ground, some areas had very heavy traffic, especially nearer to the town centre.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

The Wolves fans are known to be passionate and large in number, so a coach full of Burnley fans landing in the town centre wouldn't have gone down too well with West Midlands police. We instead decided to come off the motorway a junction before Wolverhampton onto the A5 and go to Cannock before meeting our police escort at a truck stop on the M6. We visited a tremendous family pub called Tumbledown Farm. The pub is across from Cannock Hockey Club, which also has a great Clubhouse. Tumbledown Farm happily accommodated three coachloads of Burnley fans and serves a good pint. It also provided a more relaxed setting than a pub closer to the ground.

 

When we did arrive at the ground I found the majority of Wolves fans to be pleasant and friendly. I was wearing my Claret and Blue and have an obvious Lancashire accent but only found hostilities in one area of the ground. In fact I enjoyed a conversation with a Wolves fan about the clubs chances in the queue at the Club Shop. Behind the Jack Harris Stand are two pubs across from each other in a pedestrianised square. I would avoid these at all costs, especially later in the day or if wearing Club colours. When I briskly walked past a group of Burnley fans had made the same mistake and were not given a very nice reception. If you enjoy a walk around the stadium before kick-off then walk around the bottom of the ground (Round the back of the Stan Cullis Stand) past the club shop and then go back that way. My day was somewhat spoiled by the large police presence, it seems with away fans (especially those on coaches) the police are restrictive, large in numbers and overzealous. We are forced to wait and be escorted over a main road in groups and then are only left alone at the Turnstiles. A few like myself are allowed to have a walk but this is frowned upon.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground

The first thing that hits you about Molineux is its colour. It not yellow or gold but a rather garish 1970's orange. Only after your eyes adjust do you realise what a tremendous looking stadium it really is. On the walk down from Stafford Street it appears in the clearing below you and you can't fail to be impressed with its size and neat appearance. It is a cantilever design is identical on all sides with two two-tiered stands at either side of the pitch and two single-tiered stands behind each goal. The corners are open however and this is a pity. Two corners are filled with good-sized video screens whilst another has a rather posh Wolf's head shaped flower arrangement.

The away end is the bottom tier of the John Ireland Stand and this makes a welcome change to the usual 'Cheap seats behind the goal' that we usually get stuck with. My only criticism of the away end is the arch shape of the stands at the side of the pitch. Molineux's design includes an oversized grass area and stands that arch away from the centre in their middle. This means that you can be a way from the pitch, especially if you are sat on the half-way line.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

The only thing that you will remember when leaving Molineux is 'HI HO WOLVERHAMPTON' that is played as the teams come out onto the pitch. You'll no doubt find yourself singing along before realising what you are doing, but don't worry because everybody else in the away end is singing along too. The big draws on that particular day were Denis Irwin and Paul Ince. The Wolves fans gave Ince a tremendous reception on his debut and the atmosphere throughout was electric. The Wolves fans are loud and proud so this made for a very noisy Molineux. Unfortunately Burnley didn't give us much to shout about after ex-Blackburn Rovers player Nathan Blake took advantage of Michopoulos' cock-up to put them ahead after five minutes. This followed by Paul Cook's red card for abusive language on seven minutes meant that Burnley didn't really have a dream start against one of the best teams in the division. The game was however end to end stuff and both teams were playing quick and tough football. It took Denis Irwin and a majestic free-kick in the second half to make it two. Throughout the game both Ince and Irwin were class acts and it is no wonder that wolves ran out 3-0 winners. The game was a high standard and could have quite happily passed for Premiership fayre. All the facilities were top notch at Molineux as was the team on the pitch. The stewards were easy-going and polite on my visit, whilst the pasty I had at half-time did leave a little to be desired.

6.   Comment on getting away from the ground

What was surprising on leaving Molineux is that the Police that were so eager to escort us across the main road before the game, were nowhere to be seen on a road that was much busier than earlier in the afternoon. We got on our coaches and were moving off the coach park by 5:30 which is good going, especially for an inner city ground. When walking up to Stafford Street we were mingling with the Wolves fans and I saw no trouble whatsoever. I would though recommend not walking up past the two pubs, just in case. We were on the M6 for six o'clock and I was home for eight. The return from Molineux was very quick and easy.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out.

When you leave Molineux after seeing a top standard of football in a top stadium in front of 26,000 passionate fans you begin to wonder what the Wolves fans have been wondering for years, 'Why aren't they a Premiership club?' A day out at Molineux is no worse an experience than visiting any Premiership match, in some instances it is a better experience. You leave having felt that you have visited a massive club. The whole experience is limited for the away fan in some ways. You can't have a pint near the ground or relax outside the ground. It is an intimidating place due to the sheer volume of orangey-beige shirts around you. Really you are limited to making arrangements elsewhere or being in the concourse well before kick-off. If you do however value seeing better football in better stadia above your pre-match ritual then Molineux is a very enjoyable and very impressive day-out.


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