Way back in 1977-78 I only had a ghostly grip on what I was actually doing when going to the Molineux to watch a match. Me and a few mates would be up town walking around maybe doing a bit of shoplifting or just being a nuisance. Manchester United were in town and they always brought a lot of bodies with them. It was a definite thing and throughout the day we would bump into a load of them and get chased through the old bus station by what seemed like a horde of them. Thousands of them. I remember that day like anything because it was the first time I got a kicking. Now don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t one of those Hooligan Glory posts where I wax lyrical about famous punch ups. In those days it was horrible going to a match, but it was also exciting too. At that young age (10 or so) we shouldn’t have been up town at all, especially during a Wolves-Manchester match. But we were there and that counts for something
At the rear of the Southbank was a wall from a building, an old workshop I think, that looked over the right side of the Southbank. You could climb the crumbling brickwork and watch some of the match from there, we had 70% of the pitch in view. You could get an idea of the match anyway. Bits and bobs. Plus you were right over the open air toilets for the visiting fans and it was funny to drop the occasional rock or bottle at them while they were having a slash. Sometimes the cops would come and throw you off. Sometimes you would get a punch in the mouth off one. But we would be there. Four kids hanging on for grim death in a space for one, a toe wedged in a mortar crack.
There were loads of United in town though. They were everywhere. five minutes before the final whistle they would open the gates to the Wolves end of the Southbank. I can’t remember if there was a line of cops between the fans inside, but when we all poured out at the final whistle. Things got hairy fast. You see United were coming out too and we met, right by the subway. It kicked off big time. United were filling the slope up to the Uni art block and they poured down when we arrived. They couldn’t care less these United fans and just flowed in this mass towards Wolves who were flowing down from the Hotel car park. Wolves were backed off. There were too many of them. Red and White bollocks everywhere. As is always the case the Wolves at the rear legged it back up the slope. United pushed on booting and punching. I was only little and got a few whacks. But it was mad, we were trying to escape back up the hill to the hotel. I remember this dude just standing there. Wolves fan, big belly, half his shirt ripped off, hair everywhere, blood pouring from his nose looking back up the hill.
‘What the fuck are ya doing? Fucking Wolves ay we’
We turned back, poured down in fact. Everybody. Kids, adults, few women too. Rocks, bits of slab, bottles flew towards the United fans and they were off, chased back up the slope onto the ring road. Monsters man. He was a monster this dude. Moustache, a few teeth. Big rough hands, fingers like Cumberland sausages. Fucking Wolves ay we. There isn’t a question mark. It’s a statement. What the fuck are you doing running off, haven’t you any shame? Your Towns honour at stake mate. Stand your fucking ground. And we did. Me with sticky boy arms nine stone wringing wet. But I’d never thought of this concept of ‘us’ before then. Now I realised that yes, there was a ‘them’ and there were an ‘us’. My vision of my place within the universe was stamped firmly on my consciousness right there as I looked up at this beautiful blood soaked bloke who wasn’t fucking moving anywhere. So I stood by him, he fought, he dropped somebody with a punch then I ran in and kicked the fella in the nose and backed off quick. A kid, playing adult games.
It was funny watching Rafa Mir doing the ‘Wolves ay we’ video thing. It made me laugh. It made the stand laugh at Swansea when he appeared on the big screen doing his thing. Hilarious in fact for some. But then I wasn’t laughing. I had a horrible feeling standing there. Most of these people standing around me wouldn’t have had a clue. Identity. A sense of belonging. History that you wont see in the club museum. ‘Wolves ay we’ has become abstracted and a buzzword far removed from it’s snot and blood origins.
I’m not glorifying any of the violence, I didn’t revel in it at the time but it was the zeitgeist of our anger I suppose. A way to come to terms with the big changes that were happening in the world and the town.
Looking at the Southbank Resistance stats the other day I noticed that we were having a lot of hits from Hong Kong and India. Looking at the earlier stats from previous months I see a massive growth in readers from the Indian sub-continent. Pakistan, South East Asia. Is it reflective of footballs growth in these countries? Probably. Social media means we interact with these people…at the moment tentatively and with some suspicion I suppose. My club is precious to me and it’s fans more so.
Have we got a part to play in the next ten years of our clubs development? Has this blog got a part to play? I’m not sure. The club is definitely not losing it’s soul, not yet any way. When it does it won’t be the global entities that have shoved the soul away but ourselves I suppose. What changes will come? How will the ticket prices change next year? Season tickets, a few drinks before the match, a beefburger, a pie, taking one of your kids to meet Benito Bronzegod our new signing wandering around shell shocked under the glare of a few lights. Mumbling ‘Wolves ay we’ and not having a fucking clue. I know I’m going to struggle to get a season ticket for next season whatever happens. Already I’m cutting corners on other payouts and bills.
So what happens to the blog? Does it become a stale repetitive medium for old school tales and memories or do we strike ahead and make sure we become part of the narrative? I think the latter. We resist I suppose, we resist them using ‘Wolves ay we’ as some sort of marketing bullshit. It’s not theirs to use, it’s ours and sealed in the drops of blood coming from that monsters nose and dripping on the slabs by the subway. We resist changes that will affect us negatively. It’s time we were able to have a cheap nourishing pie or burger instead of something that’s been kicked around the floor. I want to resist expensive bottles of beer at halftime. I want to resist being treated like a number. I want to resist having to buy a ticket for a game without being on the phone for half an hour or sitting in front of the lap top refreshing the screen every ten seconds. I want to resist being charged a booking fee.
You see ‘resisting’ is part and parcel of the whole experience here. This post isn’t about being negative. My teams results are of paramount importance, my team is everything to me and if I had to crawl over broken glass to see them play then I would. But we mustn’t forget the past and what the club is to all of us that stand or sit every week watching it. Is this why the Southbank has been quiet over the last few matches? The lack of opposition fans to wind up, that feeling of disconnection? I’m resisting it of course. I have to. We’ve invested more than cash into this whole experience of Wolves. We’ve invested blood. I’ve watched Wolves holding my colostomy bag on because the skin around my stoma was infected and the gasket wouldn’t stick. I held the fucker on and clapped by smacking my hand on my forehead. Investment, yeah. We’ve invested everything, some of us.
We’re in a battle here. We have to get out of this division, it’s an imagination killer for sure filled with the boring and the unimaginative coaches who snot for a living, who denigrate us with lacklustre bars of their madness and their stress. Enough moaning. I apologise for being a little negative and unsure, a little angsty. Support for the club is everything to us. Positivity, constant support for our ideas, our coach, our owners and our team. But don’t forget us Fosun. Don’t forget those that spend nearly all their disposable income on supporting the team, don’t forget us when we are chugging stale out of date beers, half frozen pies and still find the energy to shout and sing until our voices just stop. Because what will happen is those stands will be filled with grey faces and moaners instead of us and the world will continue turning of course, the wheels oiled by the sad and the depressing onslaught of global dullness where ‘Wolves ay we’ is just another corporate buzzword.