1. Why were looking
forward to going to the ground?
The gruff ticket guard at Leamington Spa seemed surprised when I asked for a
return to Wolverhampton. I tried to put on a Black Country accent to suggest
that I could have been a local, and I felt that I needed to bluster the
reasons for my visit but I do not think I was that convincing.
I was looking forward to visiting Molineux for a footballing reason and an
aim that could be described as geeky in the extreme. Wolverhampton Wanderers
versus Ipswich was a key game in the hunt for a Championship play-off place
that had been one of the tightest in years, and I still had some hope that
my beloved Ipswich would get into the playoffs. The slightly more
embarrassing reason for my visit was based on ‘ticking off’ a ground on my
’92 club’ list. The only other Midlands venue to visit in Walsall’s Bescot
Stadium, so I will have to find some obscure reason to venture into the West
2. How easy was your journey/ finding the ground/ car parking?
As a result of travelling from Leamington Spa, it was a very easy trip to
Wolverhampton. However, as a local can quite happily tell you, the Midlands
rail system can sometimes be as belligerent as a bitchy candidate on The
Apprentice. Whole pub conversations can be based on recounting a stormy
night somewhere near the weirdly titled ‘Smethwick Galton Bridge’ due to a
‘track circuit failure’ somewhere near Tipton and Birmingham New Street can
be as soul destroying as a barbed insult from Sir Alan Sugar.
I avoided the potential carnage of signal failure, overcrowded platforms and
what is painfully described as ‘throat congestion’ at the ‘mouth’ of
Birmingham New Street to use Chiltern Railways service to Birmingham Snow
Hill, which rivals Luton, Birmingham New Street, and Sunderland to be the
worst station in the UK. I took the Midland Metro to Wolverhampton St
The metro station and the main Wolverhampton railway station are in separate
places and signs to the Molineux stadium across the city are confusing and
non-existent at many key junctions. Without the help of the mostly friendly
locals, and the site of football fans moving along one particular street,
there is little chance that I would have found the stadium.
It seems to be only in Britain when visitors to towns are dumped at
transport interchanges without a recognisable information point close to
hand. Although the operatives at the Wolverhampton tourist information
centre were helpful, the centre should work with the council to improve the
directions around the city, rather than touting brochures for late autumn
breaks in Glasgow.
Despite my rants, the most embarrassing aspect of this tale was that I was
actually closer to Molineux then I realised. The stadium is just north of
the city centre between Waterloo Road and Stafford Street next to a
sprawling glass-topped Asda superstore.
3. What did you think when seeing the ground/ first impressions of away end
then other sides of the ground?
Molineux is a striking complex that nestles in a valley beside the city
centre. As you turn the corner on Waterloo Road, the stadium hits you
between the eyes with the iconic Billy Wright statue in the foreground
providing a meeting point for fans. The bright yellow paint that defines the
roof and the awnings is uncompromising to the eye but the stadium has a very
clean look about it.
The ticket office and club shop staff were very friendly and the shop had a
very impressive range of gifts. You can laze away the hot summer afternoons
by completing a 1000 piece jigsaw of the stadium, or down your ale from the
impressive range of pint glasses. However, as a visiting supporter, I am
never 100% sure whether I should be buying this merchandise of another team.
The naming of the stands after former Wolves legends is a refreshing
antidote to the Grand Slam Sunday ‘manager gets sacked in a month’ culture
of modern British football. Wolves is a club that appreciates its history.
Sadly my cheerful attitude that had remained whilst I killed time in the
Mander Shopping Centre within the City Centre went slightly downhill when I
entered the ground. I had thought that those attitudes had finished in the
early 1990s, so it was depressing to be body searched upon entering the
ground. I felt that I was being treated like a potential football hooligan
and I appeared to be closely observed throughout the game by an
uncompromisingly looking steward at pitch side, who seemed to think that my
every movement was some sort of violent statement of intent. There were two
policemen at the top of our aisle, which gave a further feeling of slight
My only possible suggestion for the police presence is that away fans were
housed in the bottom tier of the Steve Bull Stand and could potentially
enjoy a rainstorm of objects from the home support during the controversial
moments of the game. Despite the over-the-top stewarding, I was impressed
with the stadium. The view lines were clear and uninterrupted and access to
the key facilities was easy to hand. The décor is a tad dated but the
stadium is a decent arena for football.
4. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies and toilets
What usually happens when two teams that are battling for the sixth and
final play off position in the Championship is a tight game, and this match
was no exception. I should stop thinking that every single game will be a
4-3 showdown with penalties, red cards and contentious goals.
Throughout the match, the atmosphere was average with occasional flourishes
of shouting. The announcer seemed to be interested in reading out the
sponsor’s names which was a very corporate way of getting the crowd going,
but ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ was sadly only played once. The use of KC and the
Sunshine Band’s 1983 smash ‘Give it up’ when Ebanks-Blake scored was
suitably kitsch and a nice touch.
As Ipswich struggled to mount a meaningful series of attacks on goal, the
positive attitude of the Suffolk troops appeared to gradually collapse.
After the Wolves goal, the situation for Ipswich seemed to be getting more
and more helpless. Trying to score a goal seemed to be like wading through a
sticky quagmire and Wolves were mostly on top throughout. Ipswich were lucky
to get their equaliser in the dying seconds of the game. There was much
punching of the air by the Town players and screams of ‘Barmy Army’ but I
felt we were going through the emotions. The home fans were unhappy at the
end and I had some sympathy for them.
5. Comment on getting away from the ground:
Now I knew my way around Wolverhampton City Centre, I could get back to the
Metro stop without too much trouble, although I had the check my directions
at one junction, where I was surrounded with hog roast pork sandwich shops
and city centre beer halls. The Metro is quite frequent back into Birmingham
and the main Wolverhampton railway station is not far away off Pipers Row
and Railway Drive.
The police presence appeared to be more extensive than before kick off,
although they were all friendly and had shut off part of Stafford Street to
help you get off on your way. Whether you can get quickly away from
Wolverhampton in a car is difficult to tell. The site of an Ipswich fan
trying to perform a jerky hill start surrounded by a phalanx of walking
Ipswich and Wolves fans was hopeful in the extreme. In a car, I presume that
you leave by Stafford Street and Stafford Road to the M54 and the M6, which
is your highway to the rest of the UK, and the World!
6. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
I love visiting these random places around the UK for the sake of following
my team. There would be few reasons why I would visit Wolverhampton on a
regular basis. The city is not on the tourist trail but there is some charm
in the Black Country. I enjoyed my visit although I had no idea where I was
going, and I did enjoy my time at Molineux. It is a decent ground and a
passionate home crowd but will Town be playing again at Molineux in the
2008/ 2009 league campaign?