Wolves fan travels 6,000 miles – for 18 minutes of football
Paying hundreds of pounds and travelling 6,000 miles to watch just 18 minutes of football might not seem worth it to most of us.
But Steve Bishop isn’t your average football supporter.
The term ‘fanatic’ wouldn’t do justice to a man who hasn’t missed a single Wolves game since 1976, when he didn’t travel to Hull and back for a old Division 2 encounter.
We all thought 47 Wolves fans had made the trip to Armenia last Thursday, but Steve – just – made it 48.
Despite the ordeal of a nightmare journey to Armenia, which included a flight delayed by several hours and a sprint to the stadium while navigating three security cordons, he was merely happy to keep his long record going when he belatedly turned up at the 14,000-capacity Republican Stadium in Yerevan.
“At least I got to see a goal!” Steve, who turned up when Wolves were 3-0 up but witnessed Ruben Neves’s stoppage time penalty to complete the scoring, said.
“It was a frantic day, to say the least. I was scheduled for a long stop in Moscow on the way to Armenia, but by the time we took off it had been five hours.
“There was a technical fault with the plane so we were sent back into the airport. Then as we were finally about to land in Yerevan, we were 300ft from the floor and the plane starts going side to side – so up we go again to 20,000ft.
“The pilot landed it in the end and got a round of applause. It was a hairy landing.
“I know the match has already kicked off at this point so I’m in a bit of a panic to say the least.
“I ran as fast as I could through the airport and jumped in a taxi – the driver was a bit of a star and got me to the stadium as fast as he could. I think he sensed my desperation!
“We were supposed to pick our match tickets up at the ground so I had to beg my way through the first police cordon and then I saw loads of fans walking away from the stadium. I thought I’d blown it and the match had finished, but it was just the Pyunik fans leaving early as their team were 3-0 down!
“I finally got in with 72 minutes on the clock, I was sat diagonally opposite the Wolves fans so I waited for a break in play and made my way around the stadium.
“I knew a few friends in there and they were aware of my predicament. The match from that point is a bit of a blur to be honest.”
Steve, who runs the Cannock Wolves supporters’ club, would have enjoyed a relaxing few hours in the picturesque Armenian capital after his travel troubles.
But instead he had a return flight home to catch at 8am.
“It wasn’t an ideal trip but at least I’ve kept my record going,” he added.
“It’s 40-odd years since I missed a game, away at Hull City in 1976. Eighteen minutes definitely counts!
“The last Molineux match I missed was in 1970. My first game had been a couple of years earlier against QPR, aged nine.
“I was too young to go to the early 1970s UEFA Cup ties but I was there in Eindhoven in 1980 and I’ll be going to Turin if we play them in the next round, for sure.”
While Pyunik away will be one of his more memorable journeys, what’s the one match that stands out during Steve’s mammoth four-decade-long run of attending consecutive Wolves matches?
“I suppose it’s got to be the 2003 play-off final against Sheffield United at Cardiff, what a day that was,” he said.
“We really thought it was the start of something.
“We took seven coaches to Cardiff with Cannock Wolves which pales into insignificance what what we’ve done done, we took 11 to Wembley for the semi-final last year so we’re still going strong.
“I’m glad I made it to Armenia. I just hope I get my 10 supporter points!”