Express & Star

Classic match report - Wolves 3 Real Madrid 2, 1957

For those of a younger generation, yes, you are reading that scoreline correctly.

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It’s 60 years to the day since Wolves beat Real Madrid on what was a famous Molineux night, writes Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers.

One of the greatest teams in the history of football, a team that won the European Cup in 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960, came to Molineux in the middle of that astonishing run, and were defeated.

Wolves' victory over Puskas's Honved - after which they were named unofficial "champions" of the world, a year before the European Cup launched - is the game that first springs to mind when recalling those famous floodlit friendlies of the 1950s.

But arguably the triumph against Di Stefano's Madrid was the more impressive feat.

As remarked in the beautifully described match report below, Madrid were considered the best club side ever to step on English soil, and produced 'pure football artistry' at Molineux.

And in a team of artists, Di Stefano was Monet, Da Vinci and Van Gogh combined, producing skill that simply wasn't seen on these shores.

An Express & Star report the day before the game hinted at the aura surrounding the little genius, with a reporter granted access to Real Madrid's pre-game Molineux training session.

"Which is Di Stefano" several asked me – and on being shown, murmured an approving "ah".

He did everything quietly, without ostentation, and there was nothing immediately obvious to mark him as reputedly the world's highest paid player.

But just one piece of trickery was enough!

He trapped a fast-moving ball, chipped it forward two or three yards and it rolled right back to his feet!

The amazed looks of the few who noticed it bore testimony to the sheer wizardry of the action.

The same 'artistry' compliment same certainly couldn't be levelled at Wolves, whose traditional direct English-style approach had by now been perfected by manager Stan Cullis, nine years into the job.

As against Honved, Wolves used the boggy Molineux pitch to their advantage, in front of an enthralled and packed stadium.

But merely pointing to the pitch or Wolves' long-ball tactics as reasons for their success do Cullis' team a huge injustice.

After all, two months later they went to the Bernabéu and claimed a 2-2 draw, effectively winning a two-legged friendly 5-4 against a team that won the European Cup five successive times.

So mortified were the 110,000 Madrid fans, as goalscorer Bobby Mason recalled, "the crowd lit candles in mourning for their team as they had never been beaten or drawn at home to foreign opposition".

Yes, Wolves were pretty good back then...

October 17, 1957


Stuart set his side a grand example

Wolves have done it again. To such distinguished foreign victims as Honved of Hungary, and Spartak and Dynamo of the USSR, they have added the current European champions of champions, Real Madrid.

Matching the brighter glow of their new lights at Molineux last night they thrilled a 55,169 crowd by fighting back against a half-time goal deficit and finishing with Wilshaw's ten-minutes-from-time storybook winner to repeat that other famous 3-2 victory over Honved by a much different team nearly three years ago.

How the Express & Star described Jimmy Murray's goal which put Wolves 2-1 up

They wanted to see the Wolves win, but they also wanted to see the Spaniards live up to their reputation as one of the greatest club sides of all time.

They saw both and they went home in that happiest of all frames of mind for the football follower, pleased with a victory for their own English team and at the same time delighted with the entertainment the visitors provided for them.

The styles of the rivals were almost as far removed as soccer styles can be.

From the Spaniards (with their French and South American assistants) we had the precision passing and controlled movement of body and ball which is always a delight to watch and makes them look dangerous every time they are in possession.

From the Wolves we had the traditional English style with a much more direct approach, much longer passes and a much quicker build-up of scoring opportunities.

Wilshaw's winner described in detail

Looking back, one sees Di Stefano almost ambling through the game until recalling the last quick pass and the electric burst into the last open space for one of those curling lobs designed to miss the heads of the defenders.

That all this artistry did not reach fruition is to the credit of the Wolves defenders, among whom Stuart, Harris and Showell, the last but one line, have never played better.

They anticipated that last pass, and they tackled it out of existence so often that only rarely was Di Stefano able to get in a shot.

Among his best were a volley over the bar and a quick one on to which Finlayson dived to smother the ball almost as soon as it had left the costliest foot in football.

To some extent this was Stuart's night. In the absence of Wright (who probably sat entranced in front of a television screen in Porthcawl) he was entrusted with the captaincy.

But rather than being overawed by the responsibility he stood up to it magnificently, and left everybody feeling he could not have done more.

It was he who set the pattern with a successful tackle of the go-ahead Genot, in the fourth minute, and started the through passes which left Mullen clear of the defence.

Mullen mis-kicked, but he repaid us for this when with only 10 minutes left he lifted the ball precisely to the foot of Wilshaw.

The inside-left coolly hooked it on its way over the head of a defender into the Spanish net.

By this well taken effort Wilshaw completed an evening which stamped him as one of the best of the Wolves forwards, as he has so often been against the ball-playing continentals.

Di Stefano warms up at floodlit Molineux the night before the game

And it was Murray who headed on Finlayson's mighty clearance kick for Broadbent to lob the Wolves' equaliser seven minutes after the interval.

It was Marsal, a wing-half turned forward, who put the Spaniards in the lead with the best header I have seen at Molineux since Swinbourne shot one into the Arsenal net in the 1955 cup tie.

From Joseito's corner the ball rocketed past Finlayson like a bullet.

It was the same Marsal who brought the game to life again with a Madrid equaliser in the 71st minute.

He 'kidded' Finlayson out of goal and then sidestepped to drive home a rasping shot.

I make no particular point of it, but the fact remains that the Wolves beat 14 Spaniards, for at the interval Madrid introduced Marquitos and Rial as substitutes for Atienza and Gento (and they reshuffled the forward line to make Kopa less effective on the right than he had been in the inside-right position).

They also brought in Ruiz for skipper Zarranga in the 64th minute, but it made little difference.

Somebody at the subsequent banquet to the teams said the result did not matter.

I know what he meant, but Wolverhampton will feel that the result mattered a lot, particularly as they will probably agree with the Wolves chairman, Mr James Baker, and the manager, Mr Stanley Cullis, in summing up Madrid as the best foreign club team who have ever visited this country.

WOLVES: Finlayson; Stuart, Harris; Clamp, Showell, Flowers; Deeley, Broadbent, Murray, Wilshaw, Mullen.

Goals: Broadbent (52), Murray (60), Wilshaw (80)

REAL MADRID: Dominguez; Atlenza (Marquitos, 45), Lesmes; Santisteban, Santamaria, Zarranga (Ruiz, 64); Joseito, Kopa, Di Stefano, Marsal, Gento (Rial, 45).

Goals: Marsal (14, 71)

Attendance: 55,169

Referee: M Guigue (France)

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