Look into the Spaces John Ruddy


My Helder got the pelters at Fulham. Couple of balloons who were behind us started the rhetoric and I’m shutting them out, filtering them, getting them as far away as my mind could while concentrating on that awful game. Horace has taken his gloves off and he’s debating whether or not to pull them over the seats and start that funky ‘in stand’ violence thing. I’m wearing a boating blazer under my crombie. It ay right is it? We aren’t the greatest fans but we don’t cuss the team. Ever. Happy clappers? Probably yes. Helder scores and is gliding across the snow flecked inhuman coldness of Molineux. Wulfrun Heantun or something. Wulfruna High Town. The wind whips around like Neves and those balls he threads and weaves. It’s microsurgery, it’s brain football, it’s holy and beautiful and the wind carries the sounds of Molineux down the alley to me on the doorstep of me moms where I’m smoking a roll up and listening, watching, leaning on me crutches. Helder has seconds to decide who and when to twist up. Neves has three seconds to decide how much back spin, curve, aerodynamic magic to put on that ball. Boly could write a blog post he has the ball that long at one point. Saiss grows his hair at one point he has that long.

I watched the Wolves fans huddled up, walking up, wrapped up and happy regardless of the Villa result last week. It shows how much Villa affected us as we have seen so many times this season, a defeat means nothing to these men. These young men. It means nothing to these people walking up and I watch them and love them too. We weren’t worried because that defeat didn’t really mean anything in the wider scale of things. It didn’t mean anything because the ministrations of the fat headed egotistical bastard who coaches Villa had nothing. His team had nothing. We have everything and in everything there is an infinite amount of possibilities, an infinite amount of emotions too. I juxtapose Nuno with Lambert for a second and wonder. I try to juxtapose Nuno and Bruce but I might as well compare a Ferrari to a Shopping trolley and I fail. I want to kick Bruce in the face (with my good leg). Maybe my bad one too. Later that evening I watch Karl Henry in the face of some Villa player while Bruce is telling him to ‘fuck off’. Oh my days Bruce you total lollipop. This isn’t 1981 any more. Could I see Nuno doing that? No…maybe not, I hope not. Thus the columns of the architecture Brucism has cast up in Witton crumble and fall as we knew they would and I laugh again.

I always thought that Lambert won his games despite the lack of belief, that some how he ground out a win here and there through his stoic philosophy of ‘shift’ football. Journalists write ‘shift’ articles. I have read one this morning from the Daily Mail again. Some prong waxing about the Wolves when it’s obvious they don’t understand a thing about what is actually happening here. They don’t have the capacity to understand this. They never will. They crouch over their IMacs in first class carriages tapping out their crap. Coughing up their prejudices over a Costa coffee and a shit sandwich. God help these people. Is this football something other than that? I think it is. But I can only understand this Nuno in the context of his predecessors, it’s the only way.

Helder glides over the snow flecked wind whipped hallowed ground. The ball is just an afterthought to him. This is more than football. Yes, it still needs the academic tactical analysis and the unlocking of opposition offence. It still needs the days at Compton, going through those gates and parking the funky expensive motor and razzing around on the training pitches. I see that. But I can’t extrapolate ‘training’ and as Nuno says ‘Hard work’ with what I see on the pitch, where everything all of a sudden takes on a different groove entirely I suppose. Costa has scored. Down Molineux alley the sound of the crowd roars past discarded settees and the rubbish, the  makes little tornadoes in the vicious wind but that sound is unstoppable. Helder, my little ghost. They think they fasten you with their eyes but they are deceived, you are gone, you glide and are lost to them. Boom. Fucking have that. Burton, a desolate place I can’t even be arsed to denigrate. My crutch slips a little off the step and my broken leg hits the step but I don’t care. Hahahahaha I laugh and some refugee looks at me strangly. You don’t understand my travelling friend. Not yet. But stay awhile and maybe your children will.

Helder was given my love when he first came here and not an ounce of that love have I lost for him and there are I go again, it’s nothing about position and strength, completed passes, assists, goals. It’s never been like that. It was always that unstoppable Kwan as I said in one of my first posts on this site. Kwan. It was supporting these players through anything 100%. Forget the displays when things seemed a little slow and confused, when things were never going quite right. As Helders season stuttered over many months then Benik was perhaps a microcosm of his. A short time, two games, people were crying for his body to be dragged behind the team coach. I heard it at away games and I heard it to a lesser extent at home games. But this isn’t a statement of how my own personal dogmas are more correct. Benik flies in for two goals yesterday against Burton and Helder still ghosts around adding to the tally. It’s what it is because there is something else at work at out club that transcends results and work. Benik is learning and other teams should fear this. We have not seen everything yet, but we will. Benik. Dude.

John Ruddy lets one in for Burton. It was toe bunted through a mess of bodies. Unsighted, may be a few deflections. Ruddy is a big fellow, he is fast though but not really fast. He’s our goal keeper, drafted in to replace an ill and much loved goalie for the season. Has he done well? I think he has. It’s an indicator of how well the team has performed that we have to look at the position of least effect tactically but the final defender of our intent. John Ruddy for me has also been a wake up call. He does prowl the box. He has made saves, not stunning stretched panther like swoops across the face of goal but workmanlike, foundation goalkeeping. At the beginning of the season I suspect it was his intent that the defenders in front of him were cajoled, ordered and seduced by his commands. He is a presence. His shiny head darting here and there, does he flap? I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I know when he is in the box ready for a rare attack from another team he is resolute and dynamic too. In the air there are again an infinite number of possibilities over where the ball will end up. He is the one that has to try and define the physical variables of leaping and either collecting the ball, or punching it away from the head of the big oaf attacking it.

His field of view is narrow and fast changing. Decisions have to be made in a micro second. His capacity for error is much larger than say Coady maybe or Boly simply because that’s what goal keeping is. He faces an attacking ball that is sent with and attacked by an opposition that have adrenaline rushing through their bodies at the chance of a goal for their team. Mad ball my friends. Fast as fuck decision making, decisions that may tilt the outcome of the game and thus careers, millions of pounds of investment, league places, trophies. I watched his interview with Mikey Burrows and was struck by how scary and intense Ruddy was. Those eyes for fucks sake. He scared me just watching it. He’s controlled and resolute, academic for sure, empirical again…but what happens to him when the magic comes and he finds his soul?

The thing is as well, I don’t even think that Nuno has started on Ruddy yet. I don’t think that Nunoism has even touched Ruddy in any way. But if Nuno decides to keep Ruddy and should some of that magic rub off and makes him grow, like Coady and Doherty then we have a master goalkeeper. We will see Ruddy in the Premiership.

Supporting this team we have in front of us isn’t hard, it’s easy. But there are indeed times when expectations can outrun ability for sure and all those variables within the team can tangle up and become a knot of sorts. We saw it with Lambert. Cavaleiro and Costa struggling to understand this dour shift mentality. Games running away from us. Burton last season and before that. Trudging out of Molineux thinking what the fuck, shit, bollocks. Now of course this.

Social media was awash with short bitter paragraphs about John Ruddy and they are within their rights of course to discuss errors and flaps. That’s the beauty of social media and it’s ugliness. Here we are all pundits, all safe in the afterglow, the hours after the game to wax our bars about members of the team or the way we play. Hours, that’s the keyword. John Ruddy works on split seconds, keeping track of the ball and three or four players barrelling into his ends. Are we not happy with John Ruddy? I am. I am quite happy with him and I’ll stand and say it, the same way I defended Helder and Benik when it seemed like all were about to storm the castle at Compton demanding action, I suspected bedsheets to be ripped off beds and spray painted with with badly spelled propaganda.

John Ruddy has my support, of course he does, he always will while he plays for my team. Every player will have it as long as they trudge out onto the hallowed turf in my teams colours but I offer that support on one condition and that is that you learn to love this team and if not love nod a head to the beauty of what Nuno is doing here. Learn John Ruddy. Not the nuts and bolts of how to keep goal, not the players screaming into your box, not concentrate on the balls that fly across the face of your goal but learn about the spaces in between. This is where the greatest goalkeepers find their fertile ground, and this is where the summit of your ability will be climbed. Coady has done it, Doherty, Morgan Gibbs White is doing it, Benik has cast himself in front of his Master and has said ‘teach me’. Thus they have reaped the glory of their own climbs to the summit. Relax John Ruddy and open your mind, look into the spaces.

I awoke and watched Conor Coady with his arms aloft. It is slow motion. Cavaleiro slowly walks across the image and then Coady reappears. He has just slipped a Neves quality ball through to Costa for the first goal. The camera refocuses and Conor is sharp. His shirt is stretched up to his belly button. Slowly gazing at the bench he starts to smile and my tears are fucking flowing. I’m crying again. Now I know we are promoted. Now I’m sure. Help me as I follow my team on that Coach as it winds it’s way through Wolvo in May, help me out a bit, I’m going to be a bit unsteady and my eyes will be blurry.

13 thoughts on “Look into the Spaces John Ruddy

  1. We’ve got a tradition of great but underappreciated goalkeepers at Molineux – Pearce, Bradshaw, Kendall, Murray, Ikeme to name five. That means that we know what good looks like and we judge Ruddy through the same lens. I’m not sure that he is the right man for next season.
    I’m actually mates with Norris’s uncle and it is clear that he is champing at the bit. I’d like to see him get a few more opportunities but not at Ruddy’s expense.
    I think the key as you say is Nunoism. Pep has transformed what is expected of goalkeepers as components of a team and I can’t help a little of that will rub off on on us. What is Nuno’s vision of what a goalkeeper does?

    1. What’s Nunos vision of anything? How much is Norris learning? Champing? I would give him a good preseason and look at him and I’ll be honest here I do think Norris has maybe a greater capacity to ‘progress’ than John

  2. Not only nuno doing something special u too my friend -u really do have a way to put into words exactly how every fan feels n that’s special real special -yes we lucky got nuno n quality team but also lucky got you to help us less expressive fans get the revolution that’s taking place over to the rest world 👏👏👏

      1. Mean every word mt what u have is beyond a gift words just can’t describe it u prob far to modest to realise but ur a true man of the people – so hope u do a life story because the little snippets get from ur blog n podcasts sound like u one hell story to share sbr isn’t just a blog or another pod cast it’s RELIGION 👏👏👏

      2. My life is everybody else’s dude we all have things in common and truth I think is one of them. All I want is my team and town to do well that’s it bless your heart

  3. Always look forward to reading your articles, the way you word things brings home the reason I’ve been following wolves since 1968. Keep it up Michael.

  4. Who would want to be a goalkeeper? Hero to zero in the blink of an eye!
    I remember standing right behind the goal on the Southbank listening to old farts telling Malcolm Finlayson “Bert would have kept that out” everytime we conceded a goal.Then a few seasons later the same,now even older farts,telling Fred Davies “yow ay a patch on Finlayson”.I was too young to have an opinion,but to me they were Wolves keepers and as such equally deserved my adulation.As does John Ruddy,he of the 1000 yard stare and 19 clean sheets! I would also remind my brothers in Ay Weism that our august leader knows a bit about the noble,but mad,art of the custodian,first hand!
    Sorry for the sermon.
    Great musings from you Mike as per