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Wolves v Honved memories can’t be matched

It is the game that helped create the Champions League as we know it – Wolves against Honved on December 13, 1954, sparked a revolution.

Roy Swinbourne scores
Roy Swinbourne scores

Played under the floodlights in front of 55,000 at Molineux, Stan Cullis’s side would come from behind to beat the Hungarian outfit 3-2 thanks to a Johnny Hancocks penalty and Roy Swinbourne’s double.

Cullis, and sections of the press, would then go on to declare Wolves ‘champions of the world’, with disagreements over that statement proving influential in the formation of the European Cup the following year.

It was a hugely significant match – one which 85-year-old Derek Bodley, from Bilbrook, remembers very fondly.

“The excitement in the crowd was just electric, every kick raised the atmosphere,” said Bodley. “It was brilliant. Me and my dad, Sid, went to all the matches during the war – we would walk down to Molineux.

“After being in the army though, I’d managed to save a bit of money and I remember travelling to the Honved game with my dad on my AJS 500 motorbike.

“And Molineux was heaving, everyone was desperate to get in and see the match.”

The Honved side containing Ferenc Puskas flexed their muscles early on. Sandor Kocsis made it 1-0 to the visitors after 10 minutes, and Ferenc Machos doubled the advantage just four minutes later.

“In the first half, we were absolutely ripped apart as it was a different type of football we were used to,” Bodley recalls. “We were a physical side who liked to use the long ball and with Honved, it was all short and sharp.

“But in the second half, Wolves came out with this determination – you could feel it.

“They didn’t give them a minute to relax, every time they had the ball there was one or two around them. There was a slight drizzle, a foggy night, and when that third goal went in from Swinbourne – you knew it was going in as soon as it left his foot – the crowd went absolutely berserk. My dad used to wear a trilby, he threw his hat went up in the air and he never saw it again. Gloves, programmes – it was all thrown up in the air. I’ll truly never forget it. It was absolutely brilliant.”

That victory would be one of many enjoyed under Cullis – the golden era in Wolves’ history consisting of three First Division titles and two FA Cups. Cullis, though, would end up being sacked in 1964 – and, for Bodley, it was never quite the same after that.

“I remember being told Stan had been sacked,” he said. “We knew someone who used to put the players up. They’d told me Stan wasn’t in the best of health, and when he was sacked, I stopped going down for a while as I was absolutely disgusted because Wolves was his life. When they sacked Stan, that was it for me.”

Still, those days with Cullis at the helm always bring a smile to Bodley’s face.

He added: “Under Stan, Wolves were all power. Those were the days for me.”

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