Express & Star

How Wolves plunged to the lower leagues and nearly ceased to exist - Part 3: A false dawn

In more detail than ever before, the Express & Star tells the full Bhatti brothers story - a troubled era which saw Wolves plunge to depths of the lower leagues and face financial oblivion. In part 3, we look at a bold new era ushered in by new chief executive Derek Dougan - but was it a false dawn?

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Face the crowd. Derek Dougan, back at Molineux as chairman and chief executive get the fans' view in the North Bank on the opening day of the 1982-83 season when Wolves beat Blackburn 2-1

Flanked by his new board of directors, Derek Dougan confidently strode out on to the pitch at Molineux in August 1982, wagging his finger for the photographer as he "pointed to the future".

A few inches to their left stood Wolves' beleaguered manager Ian Greaves. They put on on a show of unity for the cameras, Greaves even managed to force a smile. But you didn't need to be a psychologist to note something about the manager's body language to see something was amiss.

Derek Dougan pointed the way to a new future for Wolves when he was photographed with Stuart Ross, Roger Hipkiss, Doug Hope, Eric Woodward, and team manager Ian Greaves following his takeover of the club from the receivers in August, 1982. The smiles would not last for long, though – Greaves was sacked the following day, and four years later the club had to call in the receivers again

A small, but noticeable gap separated him from the tightly packed line-up of new Wolves executives. Hands in his pockets, Greaves looked confused and sullen.

The next day he was fired.

It seems he knew it was coming.

According to Steve Gordos, assistant sports editor of the Express & Star at the time, Greaves had confided in club captain John Richards "If Dougan comes here, that's me finished".

The pair had apparently clashed during a television appearance where they both appeared on a panel of experts. Richards quickly came to the conclusion that "if you upset Dougan, he won’t forget it".

Hours before his dismissal, Greaves told the Express & Star's David Harrison that his spell at Wolves had been the most traumatic of his managerial career.

"I am delighted for the players, the supporters the local community and the whole of football that Wolves have been saved and will be starting the new season," he said.

"But on a personal note, I now wish to discover whether I will be able to get on and manage the club in the way I would like to.

"My job has not been an easy one since I came here. I have had four bosses – Harry Marshall, Doug Ellis, the receiver and now Derek Dougan – and I have always been surrounded by uncertainty.

"In many ways I did the receiver's job for him before he moved in. I chopped everything down to a minimum, saved £180,000 in running costs and have had to let 11 players go."

Dougan wasted no time in sacking Ian Greaves

Greaves said he had refused to take sides in the boardroom battles of the previous six months.

"I am not interested in this sort of boardroom politics," he said. "Football is the only thing which concerns me and it is important to discover exactly where I stand."

The following morning Greaves attended a meeting with Dougan, and was asked to resign. He refused to do so, and was informed that he was sacked with immediate effect.

Greaves must surely have wished he had stayed at Oxford United, and it seemed even Dougan acknowledged he was a little hard done by.

"Clearly, Ian Greaves has had a very difficult time in the past four months and it would be wrong not to acknowledge this at the outset.