Express & Star

How Wolves plunged to the lower leagues and nearly ceased to exist - Part 18: Fan rebellion

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 18, club supporters rebel.

Protesters demand the hated Bhatti brothers quit Wolves

Relations between the club and the fan base had hit an all-time low.

The official supporters' club made no attempt to hide their contempt for the club hierarchy, and began selling 'Bhattis Out' merchandise from a shed on the fringes of the ground, which it leased from the club.

Wolves responded by severing its links with the supporters' club, evicting them from their base in a shed behind the North Bank, and setting up a rival 'official' supporters' club instead.

This move turned out to be something of an own goal. Wolverhampton Council, which leased an office block in the John Ireland Stand, offered a room to the unofficial club. In a cheeky publicity stunt, council leader John Bird was even pictured cutting the ceremonial ribbon. 'Bhattis Out' stickers and T-shirts were now being sold from Wolves' main stand.

Open rebellion from fans at Molineux

The club had long ceased producing its own match-day programmes, but independent publisher Peerless Press had been printing them with the backing of the club for some time. However, Wolves became unhappy when the publisher began printing a section written by the rebel supporters' club, which criticised the Bhatti regime. When Wolves ordered the section should be omitted, the publisher responded by saying it would no longer print the programmes. Peerless managing director Bill Goulden said he was producing the programmes at his own expense, and was not prepared to let the Wolves board censor its content.

"I am not being dictated to by Wolves on what we can put in our own publication," he said. Goulden added that he relied on supporters' club members to sell the programmes on match days.

"We are selling only about 1,500 programmes at a home game, and are losing around £60 a match. In any case I have become totally disillusioned with Wolves and their current regime in recent weeks."

A Bhattis Out protest

Wolves chief executive Gordon Dimbleby appealed to the publisher to reconsider its decision.

With few funds, and a winding-up order still hanging over them, Wolves turned to a familiar face to try to save their season.

Sammy Chapman, who had resigned just two months earlier when McGarry was appointed boss, returned as caretaker manager on November 7, three days after McGarry's resignation. It was unclear how long he would be in situ, or whether the club were still looking for a permanent boss.

In reality, they had few other options.

Kenny Hibbitt immediately ruled himself out.

Kenny Hibbitt