This weekend sees the first-ever Premier League meeting between Wolves and West Brom. It’s a date that has been marked in the diary of both sets of fans and, despite the best attempts of the weather, we finally get to see our first Black Country derby in the top flight!
It’s hard to believe that both clubs have spent time in the top flight over the last few years and are yet to face each other there. We’ve both had the other games against the likes of Villa, Blues and Stoke, but I don’t think they hold the same passion as a Wolves v Albion game.
To get everyone in the mood for the big game on Sunday, I’ve had a look back over the last few meetings to pick out some of the more important derby matches. The likes of Bull and Ndah, Phillips and Clement all feature, so you know they must have been pretty good games!
15/9/1996 – West Brom 2-4 Wolves
The highest scoring meeting since the early 70’s saw Wolves triumph at the Hawthorns – a feat which has not been managed since. A Iwan Roberts hat-trick and a strike from Steve Bull saw Wolves move to third in the table. However, despite recording a double over the Baggies that season, Wolves went on to lose to Crystal Palace in the play-offs and again miss out on promotion.
18/3/2001 – Wolves 3-1 Albion
Without a Black Country derby win in seven attempts, Wolves were in desperate need of local bragging rights. West Brom, who were sitting seven places ahead of their rivals, arrived at Molineux as favourites. However, a brace from George Ndah and a Ludo Pollet strike put the home side 3-0 up. A late Neil Clement goal proved only consolation for Gary Megson’s side.
2/12/2001 – Wolves 0-1 Albion
With Wolves sitting in top spot, six points clear of West Brom in fifth, the odds looked to be in the home side’s favour. However, a second-half Jordao strike was enough to clinch three vital points and push Wolves into second. Subsequently, Albion went on to finish the season as runners-up and gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time. Wolves, who had been odds-on favourites to win promotion, ended up finishing third and went on to lose to Norwich in the play-offs.
28/1/2007 – Wolves 0-3 Albion
After a 3-0 win at the Hawthorns earlier in the season, West Brom visited Wolverhampton for an FA Cup fourth round tie. The mood at Molineux was already a sour one, after the club decided to allocate the South Bank to the visiting supporters. Compensated with a pie and a pint, the usual occupants of the famous Molineux South Bank were scattered around the ground. Without the familiar home support, Wolves were emphatically beaten. Goals from Diomansy Kamara, Zoltan Gera and, the man Wolves fans love to hate, Kevin Phillips, helped Albion to their second Black Country win of the season.
11/3/2007 – Wolves 1-0 Albion
Nearly six years to the day that they had last won a Black Country derby, Wolves fans were finally given something to cheer about. West Brom again visited to Molineux for the third meeting of the season. Wolves, who had improved dramatically since the last meeting, were sitting just a place ahead of West Brom. The game looked to be pretty much over and both sides looked like settling for a point, until Jay Bothroyd jinked into the area and fired in a late winner to clinch a derby win.
13/5/2007 – Wolves 2-3 Albion
As if three meetings wasn’t enough, the play-offs saw Wolves and Albion thrust into action against each other again. In the fourth derby of the season (starting to sound like Scottish football now, isn’t it?), Molineux played host to the play-off semi-final first leg. In a fantastic game, and probably the most memorable of recent years, the Baggies sneaked a 3-2 win. Kevin Phillips struck first to put West Brom ahead, but Jody Craddock and Seyi Olofinajana both scored to put the home side into the lead. However, Phillips notched another and Diomansy Kamara fired in late on to ensure the Albion took a one goal lead into the second leg.
West Brom went on to win the second leg 1-0, thanks to another goal from Phillips. The result saw them guarantee a place in the play-off final at Wembley. But, the season ended on a sour note for the Baggies, as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Derby, thus missing out on promotion.
So there we have it. I think this goes to show that there is hardly ever a dull game between the two sides. With the first Premier League Black Country derby fast approaching, there have been many predictions as to what way it could go. But, looking back over the last few meetings, I’m at a complete loss to predict this one!
A lot is always made of the likes of Man United v Man City and Arsenal v Spurs. Let’s show the Premier League what a real derby looks like! Here’s to yet another cracking Black Country clash!