How Wolves plunged to the lower leagues and nearly ceased to exist - Part 15: Bill McGarry brings some order back to Molineux
In more detail than ever before, the Express & Star tells the full Bhatti brothers story – a troubled era that saw Wolves plunge to depths of the lower leagues and face financial oblivion. In Part 15, the return of Bill McGarry brings some welcome stability.
Wolves travelled to Brentford for the opening day of the 1985-6 season, for a game it had appeared might not take place.
Caretaker manager Sammy Chapman was now without John Pender and John Humphrey, who had been sold for a combined £100,000, easing the financial pressure on the club for the time being. Fellow contract rebel Alan Ainscow was ruled out with injury.
There were debuts for four young players – Nicky Clarke, Johnny Morrissey, Jon Purdie and Neil Edwards – with another, Steve Stoutt, on the bench.
Edwards, who grew up in Wall Heath, near Dudley, had signed for Wolves only two days before. And two days before that he had turned out for non-league Oldswinford.
The 19-year-old put in a dream performance on his debut, equalising for Wolves in the 67th minute, after Terry Bullivant had given Brentford a 46th-minute lead. Jamie Murray clinched the points for the Bees with four minutes to go, but Brentford manager Frank McLintock was full of praise for Wolves' gutsy performance.
Wolves' next game was against their near neighbours Walsall in the League Cup, the first time the sides had played in 61 years.
Caretaker manager Chapman admitted that his side went into the game as the poor relations.
"We have to admit we are the underdogs," he said.
"We have to accept that at the moment we are a Third Division club with a team to match.
"On the other hand, Walsall have put together a very good side and I can see them winning promotion this season. Alan Buckley has had money to spend, and he has spent it well on very good players."
An 85th-minute equaliser from John Purdie gave Wolves hope going into the second leg, cancelling out Nicky Cross's 40th-minute opener.
Wolves' first home game of the season against Newport County was hardly a game to remember. While the 6,000-strong crowd was the largest in the Third Division, the half-closed ground made for a flat atmosphere, matched by a lacklustre performance on the pitch.