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SHEP'S WOLVES SHORTS

22 February 2013


Richard Shepherd continues the build-up ahead of Sunday's game at Wolves with these pre-match shorts.

HUMILIATION - AND REVENGE! Two of the most sensational meetings between Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers took place in the 1955/56 season when both clubs were in the original Division One (top level). At that time Wolves were one of the strongest teams in the country – League Champions in 1954, runners-up in 1955, and pioneers of British club participation in Europe football, having defeated several top European sides in prestigious floodlit friendlies before the advent of European competitive football.

We had been back in Division One since 1952, and had only just avoided going down at the end of 1954/55 by defeating Wolves 3-2 at Ninian Park in our penultimate match. We had made an average start to ‘55/56 (two wins, two defeats) and Wolves played us in our fifth match. A 42,060 Ninian Park attendance was present, though many of them missed the first goal scored by Wolves after just fifteen seconds! We struggled throughout the match and were 9-0 down with a few minutes to go when our former Wolves forward Ron Stockin, signed from them a year earlier, scored a consolation for us. The 9-1 scoreline equalled the record First Division away win set by Sunderland in 1908 when they won 9-1 at Newcastle.

On December 31st 1955, we went to Wolves for the return – they were second in the table, we were in the bottom half. They had not been beaten at home all season and we had been strengthened by the signings of defender Danny Malloy from Dundee in mid-December and winger Brian Walsh from Arsenal in September. The national press were there in force to see a repeat of the September game – they were disappointed because in front of a 36,772 Molineux crowd, we were 2-0 winners through Gerry Hitchens and Trevor Ford.
 
GIANT-KILLING AT MOLINEUX: Our first-ever meeting with Wolves came on January 31st 1920 at Molineux in the F.A. Cup Second (now Fourth) Round. They were in Division Two, having been founder-members of the Football League in 1888, we were in the First Division of the Southern League, then the strongest competition outside the Football League’s then-two divisions.

We were unbeaten in our previous twelve  Southern League, F.A. Cup and Welsh Cup matches, and created a sensation by winning 2-1 at Molineux with goals from defender Bert Smith and winger George Beare.  The following season (1920/21) we were in our first-ever Football League season, having been elected to Division Two on May 31st 1920. We played Wolves in the semi-final of the F.A. Cup and were favourites to reach the Final. We drew 0-0 against them at Anfield seen by 41,892 on March 19th 1921.

The replay took place at Old Trafford on March 23rd, and we lost 3-1 through some controversial refereeing decisions. We were in the top two of Division Two at the time, and met Wolves in the League in our final two matches of the season. We clinched promotion with a 2-0 home win against them on Monday, May 2nd 1921 with goals from Jimmy Gill and Fred Pagnam in front of a 40,000 Ninian Park attendance. The return game took place the following Saturday (May 7th). Pagnam, Harry Nash and Gill scored in our 3-1 win and we finished as runners-up to Birmingham.

INTO THE LOWER REACHES: In the mid-1980s both City and Wolves were in desperate straights. Both suffered from consecutive relegations (Division Two to Division Four) at the end of 1984/85 and 1985/86. But in 1987/88 they won promotion as Fourth Division Champions while we were runners-up to them. We in fact did the double over them with a 3-2 win at Ninian Park on September 5th 1987 with goals from Brian McDermott (now Reading manager), Kevin Bartlett and Terry Boyle, but just 2,258 spectators saw that match. The return took place at Molineux on February 6th 1988 and we were 4-1 winners with goals from Jimmy Gilligan (2) and Paul Wimbleton (2).

Our side that day was: George Wood; Phil Bater, Nicky Platnauer, Paul Wimbleton, Nigel Stevenson, Terry Boyle, Alan Curtis, Mike Ford, Jimmy Gilligan, Brian McDermott, Kevin Bartlett. Subs not used: Steve Mardenborough, Ian Walsh.

UNLUCKY RETURN: In August 1952 we made our return to top level (the original Division One) with an opening match against Wolves at Molineux. Some 15,000 City fans were amongst the 52,309 attendance for a match that we were unlucky to lose 1-0, Wolves’ goal being deflected over our ‘keeper Ronnie Howells off the shoulder of our half-back Derrick Sullivan. During our stay in Division One during the Fifties (1952/53 to 1956/57) we played Wolves ten times but could win on only two occasions.

ALEC’S ONE GOAL: Our Scottish full-back Alec Milne (signed from Arbroath in March 1957) scored just one goal during his eight-year stay with Cardiff City. It was against Wolves at Ninian Park on February 9th 1962 in a First Division match. But we lost that game 3-2.

MEMORABLE STRIKE: When we reached the 2008 F.A. Cup Final, we defeated Wolves at Ninian Park in the Fifth Round on February 16th 2008. Our goals came from Peter Whittingham and a memorable strike from ex-Dutch International Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink who had joined us the previous August having been with Charlton Athletic.

BIG ATTRACTION: Our biggest attendance for a home match against Wolves was at Ninian Park on January 2nd 1954 when a 47,119 crowd saw us defeated 3-1. Wolves went on to win the League Championship that season.

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