Shropshire Star

Tales from an FA Cup thrashing which left Wolves fans dreaming of a double

We're on our way to Wembley... Well, that was at least the hope of these Wolves fans streaming towards Molineux more than 65 years ago.

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Fans on their way to watch Wolves play Portsmouth on January 25, 1958.

And they were in for a good afternoon, because they would witness Wolves thrash Portsmouth 5-1 in their FA Cup Fourth Round tie played on Saturday, January 25, 1958.

Another big win in the Fifth Round saw them brush aside Darlington 6-1, but Wolves were to fall at the quarter final stage, going down 2-1 against Bolton Wanderers.

Our archive photo captures a disappeared view of Wolverhampton from yesteryear. To help get your bearings, on the far right you get a glimpse of St Peter's Church, while the pub sign on the wall is for "Atkinson's Chequer Ball" which internet sources say was in North Street or "North Street/Wulfruna Street."

Further along from the pub is Wolverhampton wholesale market, an imposing brick and terracotta building. Today nothing exists of these buildings so our attempt at a modern comparison view is a bit of a punt, but looks to be in the right general area.

Today the area is much changed.

The wholesale market was demolished in April 1974, but pictures of that taking place suggest that the Chequer Ball had already gone by then.

Back to that FA Cup win over Portsmouth, which sparked great excitement and anticipation.

Wolverhampton Chronicle journalist Michael Barratt wrote: "Wolves are about to write history in black and gold letters by achieving that most elusive of all doubles – the league championship and the FA Cup. I'm prepared to stake my drip-dry shirt on that forecast."

That name will ring a bell with older readers, because it was the same Michael Barratt who is best remembered as the avuncular host of the BBC's groundbreaking Nationwide programme.

Before finding TV fame Barratt worked in Wolverhampton for a time both for the Express & Star and Wolverhampton Chronicle.

Talking about names ringing a bell, one of the players at Molineux that day was to become a hero of the North Bank, albeit much later as at the time of the tie he was playing for Portsmouth.

It was Derek Dougan, and The Doog made his mark early in the match when, 15 minutes in, he fouled Norman Deeley to give Wolves a penalty. A great save from the Portsmouth goalie denied Wolves an early lead.

Wolves' goalie Finlayson leaps acrobatically to deny Derek Dougan, left.

However a Wolves side packed with legends, the likes of Peter Broadbent, Jimmy Mullen, and Billy Wright, did not have to wait long for their first goal which came after 26 minutes, and by the final whistle Pompey were humiliated.

Our friend Mr Barratt lost half his drip-dry shirt with his forecast double, as although Wolves did win the league championship that season they were, as we have seen, destined to be knocked out of the FA Cup.

They did not have to wait long though to win the FA Cup for a fourth – and, so far, last, time – beating Blackburn Rovers 3-0 at Wembley in May 1960. It came in a season in which they only narrowly missed doing the double, being pipped by Burnley to their third consecutive league title by a single point.

A sad aspect of the FA Cup triumph was that, in an era in which there were no substitutions allowed, Blackburn went down to 10 men in the first half when Dave Whelan was stretchered off with a broken leg, an injury which effectively ended his top flight career.

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