West Brom Greatest Xl v Wolves Greatest Xl: Who'd Win?

It might not be as globally renowned as its Liverpool or Glasgow counterparts, but when Wolves and West Brom go head-to-head the hatred is naked. But who would triumph if the greatest Xls of each team were to lock horns?
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It might not be as globally renowned as its Liverpool or Glasgow counterparts, but when Wolves and West Brom go head-to-head the hatred is naked. But who would triumph if the greatest Xls of each team were to lock horns?

West Brom Greatest Xl v Wolves Greatest Xl: Who Wins?

Wolves Greatest Xl by Dave Blackhurst

GK: Phil Parkes

Tricky call this. I would argue that we’ve not had a world-class keeper since Bert Williams. I never saw him play so Phil gets the number 1 shirt. That’s not to disparage Parkes or any of the other goalies we’ve had over the years. Stowell, Burridge and Bradshaw were all fine players but Phil was the one I admired most. He was big, brave and could boot the ball miles – qualities that I cherished in the man between the sticks when I was 13.  8

RB: Geoff Palmer

Great hair, great attitude, great servant. An uncompromising full back with almost 500 appearances in the old gold and black, Palmer was local lad and life-long supporter. If it’s not to damn him with faint praise, Geoff was the type of solid professional that every team needs. Became a copper when he left the game, I’d like to think a solidly professional one.  8

CB: Frank Munro

Tough but stylish sums up Frank Munro. He started as a forward, was signed by us as a midfielder and served forever after as centre back, and a damn good one at that. There are quite a few opposing forwards who could vouch for Frank’s toughness. The Molineux faithful will vouch for his style. Football fans everywhere, with the exception of those in Leeds, rejoiced when one of Frank’s rare goals denied Revie’s side the double in ’72 and handed the title to Clough’s Derby. What a night. 9

CB: Joleon Lescott

We were devastated when Joleon signed for Everton, the kind of devastation that is tinged with a little bit of pride. We knew he was too good not to be snapped up and it was only a matter of time. He’d been talked up as a future star since joining the Wolves Academy and he didn’t disappoint. He had the skill, presence and vision required to be a top class defender.  An unfortunate knee injury (that gave conspiracy theorists a field day) kept him out of our first venture back in the Premiership. We like to think we would have survived if Lescott had been fit. We also like to believe he’ll come back when he’s had enough of City.   9

LB: Derek Parkin

Although he began as a right back, Bill McGarry moved him across to the left and there he stayed – forever it seemed. Parkin holds the record for most Wolves appearances and consequently is probably the player I’ve watched more than any other. He used the ball well and was never one to aimlessly boot it away if he could see an opportunity for a decent pass. If that opportunity was Waggy champing at the bit, so much the better. 8

RM: Kenny Hibbitt

We got Kenny for peanuts from Bradford Park Avenue in 1968 and for the next 16 years he gave 100% (we didn’t have 120% back then.) 114 goals in 574 games illustrates his attacking credentials but Hibbitt added the industry and creativity that marks out an accomplished midfielder. We loved him and when he came to the Molineux as coach with Bristol Rovers in the late 80’s he received the longest, loudest and most heartfelt ovation I’ve ever experienced.  9

CM: Ron Flowers

You could argue that, as a Wolves fan, I was born too late. By the 63-64 season most of the stars of the 50’s had hung up their boots and the glory days had come to an end. Mind you, the vast majority of the supporters had lived through that era and weren’t shy in pointing out that some poor so and so wasn’t fit to lace Mullen/Wright/Slater’s boots. If the vitriol didn’t stun the poor lad then the collective exhalations of beer and woodbine breath would. Ron, and my next choice, are the only players from the ‘Champions of the World’ team (Daily Mail) who were still playing regularly. An England stalwart who narrowly missed out on appearing in the ’66 World Cup final, Flowers was a strong, imposing player with a ferocious shot.  10

CM: Peter Broadbent

When the great George Best says you’re the player he most admired then you must have something going for you. Jimmy Greaves rated Broadbent too, as did regular crowds of 40,000 plus. Peter was a magician with the ball and a powerhouse in midfield. He was criminally underused by England, the prevailing theory being that Wolves already had their fair share of international players. The FA was obviously as useless then as it is today.   9

LM: Dave Wagstaffe

There was no more joyous sight than watching Waggy fly down the left, beat a defender or two and ping in a pinpoint cross. Then watch him do it again and again and again. He probably set up more goals than any other player of his era and was probably clattered into the advertising hoardings more than most as well. We absolutely loved him. 9

CF: Peter Knowles

Having a flawed genius for an idol can be trying at times. One week Knowles could be petty, disinterested and putting in yet another transfer request. The following week he would be sublime, bamboozling opponents with his skill and vision. He was by far the best player in the old second division for the two seasons Wolves played there. Things looked promising when we got back to the top flight in ‘67, none more so than the Dougan/Knowles partnership. Two seasons later, at 24, he quit football. He had it all but in the end he became ‘God’s Footballer’ (© Billy Bragg) and arguably one of the game’s greatest losses. We held on to his registration until ’82 when it became obvious, to one of the parties at least, that a Second Coming wasn’t on. Nice bloke though – when he first joined Wolves he was lodging with my mate’s neighbour and me and Alan used to call for him on a Sunday morning for a game of ‘three and in.’ 10

CF: Steve Bull

If Knowles was my idol then Bully was my hero. To have been able to see them play together would have been heaven. I won’t trot out The Tatter’s stats – suffice it to say that not only does he get into my best Wolves side, I’d also put him in my best side in the world ever. There may be more skilful players out there but none with more heart and more determination to break the back of the onion bag. Three against The Baggies and the old airplane celebration is the stuff of dreams. 10

Manager: Stan Cullis

Cullis was still the boss when I started watching Wolves and consequently wins the accolade as the best manager I’ve seen. I’m old enough to remember JFK’s assassination and the tremendous effect it had on people. That was nothing compared to the shock felt in Wolverhampton when Cullis was sacked a year later. His record as manager, especially in the 50’s, is incredible – I think he’d do it all again with this team. 10

Total: 109

He had it all but in the end he became ‘God’s Footballer’ (© Billy Bragg) and arguably one of the game’s greatest losses.


West Brom Greatest Xl by Ryan Duggins and Justin Pearce

GK – John Osbourne 1966-1977

John was one of the greatest shot stoppers of the 70’s. He lead us to FA Cup glory in 1968, as he commanded his area with a dominance of his area only mirrored by ‘The Big Red Machine’ Kane during his first few years in the ring. An absolute force. 8

RB – Brendan Batson – 1978 – 1982

Brendan was terrific at reading the game, and along with Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham, formed a threesome (affectionately called ‘The Three Degrees’) that broke so many racism barriers for professional football at this time. Batson was probably the most underrated of the three, but solid none the less. 8

CB – John Wile – 1970- 1983

John was one of those defenders that used his body completely and almost exclusively has a missile. Even when faced with the obvious negative consequences of pain for an action, he would follow through anyway. All he cared about was getting that ball away. Not great with his feet, but back in those days he didn’t need to be. If you can find YouTube footage of the 1978 FA Cup final you can see how brave he was. 9

CB – Darren ‘Big Dave’ Moore – 2001- 2006

Plagued with injury these days at Burton Albion, most football followers will only really remember ‘Big Dave’ being part of a side constantly picking the ball out of the net in the Premier League. But Moore was one of the most talented defenders every to play at The Hawthorns. With two promotions (and two relegations, shhhh) under his belt, it was a shame that he left us under quite demoralising circumstances as he was slowly forced out of the team. But still, one red card in 6 years for the club as a Centre Back is some going. 8

LB – Derek Statham – 1977-1987

Yes, I accept that in terms of players making that highly controversial switch from Gold and Black to White and Black, we probably did draw the short straw. Wolves had Steve Bull, their record goal scorer and local legend, and West Brom had Derek Statham. But Derek was a major part of our most romantic days, with ‘The Three Degrees’, Bryan Robson and ‘Big’ Ron Atkinson at the helm. Deserved more than three England caps though. 7

RM – Willie Johnston – 1972-1979

One thing is for sure – Willie was a character. Showing his butt cheeks to fans during his time in NASL, drinking beer on the touchline, drug use before a World Cup game which forced his international career to a halt and stamping on someone’s throat in the middle of a game. But among this, Johnston was special.  West Brom spent a lot of money to bring him from Rangers, and my word did he repay his fee. Slippery, skilful and generally an exciting player to watch. 9

CM – Tony Brown – 1963 – 1980

Ahh, ‘The Bomber’. FA Cup Winner, League Cup Winner, record goal scorer for the club and an absolute fiend of a midfielder.  It seems hilarious to think that now, a player would choose a career with us rather than Manchester City, but a lot changes in 50 years of football. It’s fair to say though that after he left us as one of our most championed and most loved players, he didn’t really have such a great time. Stints in NASL, Torquay and Stafford were his later ventures. But none the less, Brown still holds a strong place in our hearts and is currently one of the leading commentators for football in The Midlands. 10

CM – Bryan Robson – 1974 – 1981

Robson was undoubtedly one of the first real World Class players to play for us, and by anyone’s standards, he was class. But it did take us far too long to realise it. Played at Left Back for the majority of his first few seasons with us, it was due to repetitive injuries and a rotation of managers that really halted his progression at The Hawthorns. Robson was able to force himself through though, and became a major asset during his last two seasons with us, leading the way in successful European and domestic campaigns. It was inevitable that he would leave at some stage, and when Ron Atkinson left West Brom to take over at Manchester United, there was only one place Robson was going. 10

LM – Laurie Cunningham – 1977-1979

Laurie was a man with an overwhelming sense of ambition. As a player standing out in one of the best First Division sides of the 70’s, Cunningham was never one to rest on his laurels, as he continuously pushed himself to every limit. He was the first ever Black Player to wear an England Shirt, the first Englishman ever to play for Real Madrid and was one of the first players to be in the centre of a power struggle between club and country. Real Madrid wrestled aggressively to stop Cunningham joining his England team-mates. Initially fans blamed the management of England for overlooking the talents of a player playing overseas, but Ron Greenwood claimed that it is impossible to not notice the third highest scorer in a Real Madrid season, and blamed the Spanish giants for not allowing him to leave. Laurie was tragically killed in a car crash at just 33, and is still remembered fondly in West Bromwich and Madrid. 10

ST – Jeff Astle – 1964-1974

A real one in two striker that lead the line in a glorious period in West Brom history, and building the foundations for further success for the club in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The King’s winning goal in the FA Cup Final of 1968 was one of almost 180 goals for the club in just under 300 appearances, as he consistently banged in the goals for The Baggies. Doctors actually believe that it was his own devotion to winning the ball and scoring goals that caused this death, as his persistent heading of the hard leather balls were thought to have triggered the development of Brain Disease which killed him at the age of 59. His notes stated that his death was caused by ‘industrial injury’. 9

ST – Cyrille Regis – 1977-1984

Who didn’t like Cyrille? Nobody, that’s who. For some reason, Cyrille struck a chord with football fans of a certain age that ensured his nostalgic emergence in fans across the country whenever his name is mentioned. Spotted playing in Sunday Football, Regis was such a quality player that the West Brom scout at the time offered to pay for the fee to purchase the striker out of his own wages.

As previously mentioned, Regis was part of a movement in English football that really forced the acceptance of Black players playing professional football. Although the racism directed towards them was blunt and awful, for fans to see three black players on one side forced the terraces to open their minds and come to terms with this transition. Ron Atkinson and ‘The Three Degrees’ didn’t just make history, but change the future of football racism

Back to his skills though, and Regis had it in abundance. During his time, West Brom were real contenders and on a weekly basis took the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool straight to the cleaners. Cult here, local legend and overall all nice guy, the memories of Cyrlle Regis are not going anywhere soon.

Manager: Big Ron Atkinson

Before the ronisms and racist comments, Ron Atkinson was a fantastic manager who presided over the most exciting team in West Brom’s history. 10

Totals: Wolves 109 - West Brom 107

Wolves edge it by two points, which is fair when you consider the Molineux trophy cabinet has to be a lot sturdier than that of the baggies. We imagine a high-scoring, blood-curdling affair, settled by a Steve Bull volley in the 94th minute...

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