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Wolves throwback: When Mel Eves shot down star-studded Gunners

By Joe Edwards | Wolves | Published:

Wolves, of course, got one over Saturday’s opponents Arsenal at Molineux last year – but wins against the Gunners have not been all that frequent.

Mel Eves.

Before the 3-1 triumph in April – Ruben Neves, Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota scoring for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side – you had to go back 41 years for Wolves’ last success over the North London side on home soil.

That was when, on October 14, 1978, Mel Eves got the only goal of the game, in front of 19,664.

The two teams’ seasons turned out pretty differently, with Arsenal going on to win the FA Cup – beating Wolves in the semi-finals, too – while Eves & Co finished 18th out of the First Division’s 22 teams.

Still, the former forward remembers the victory, and his strike that sealed it at Molineux, fondly.

“Arsenal had a good team then – I was up against Willie Young and David O’Leary that day,” said Eves.

“I got a chance on the edge of the box, so I just took it to one side and knocked it into the corner.

“It was maybe a bit like Leander Dendoncker’s goal at Villa last weekend.

“I remember just getting a chance and knocking it into the corner from 20 yards.

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“Had it been any further than that, I wouldn’t have reached!

“That was about the limit of my distance, really.

“I didn’t score many further than that, maybe one or two – although they’d have had to be volleys.

“Pat Jennings was the goalkeeper for Arsenal, Pat Rice was at full-back.

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“Arsenal had a very good team at the time, so it was a top win for us.”

Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton and former Wolves man Alan Sunderland were also in the star-studded Arsenal side that day.

The win against the Gunners, meanwhile, came right towards the end of Sammy Chung’s reign, with him being dismissed in November.

That season did not go plan for Wolves but the next one turned out pretty well, to say the least.

In 1979/80, with John Barnwell in charge, they finished sixth in the top flight and won the League Cup, downing Nottingham Forest at Wembley.

And Eves says the victory over Arsenal was proof they had the potential to be a top side – they just needed a couple of signings. Thankfully, Emlyn Hughes and Andy Gray arrived, and Wolves enjoyed a superb campaign.

“We’d got good enough players – we could hold our own – but we just needed one or two more signings to kick on, which we did,” said Eves.

“We brought Andy in, didn’t we? That was a great signing and Emlyn was another great signing.

“Those were two-master strokes from Barny. We stayed up in that 78/79 season, comfortably enough.

“That was a poor season for us, it was a bit of a transition time, but then 79/80 was brilliant.”

Wolves have not finished so high in the top flight since then, although they have a great chance to do so over the next few weeks.

Nuno’s lot would happily take a repeat of what happened in ‘78, as they look to keep up the momentum against Arsenal after picking up three wins from three since the restart a couple of weeks ago.

And Eves, who now regularly covers Wolves games for BBC WM, hopes the current crop can at least match that sixth-placed finish.

“It is probably the best season we’ve had until, potentially, this season,” added Eves.

“The team this season, for the first time since then, could do better than us in the league, and I really hope that they do.”

Joe Edwards

By Joe Edwards
Multi-Media Sports Journalist

Wolves fan turned Wolves correspondent for the Express & Star.

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