JODY CRADDOCK TESTIMONIAL, MAY, 5, 2014


On several occasions I've either lost my ticket on the way to the game or realized when I got to the stadium that I'd left it in a safe place at home but today I did something new – I thought this match started at 3.00 but then realized en route that it began an hour earlier. Fortunately I managed to get into my seat about ten minutes before kick-off, having taken a taxi from Wolverhampton Station in the company of the only other members of the faithful I'd met on my journey. I managed to squeeze a punnet of chips down my neck between taxi and seat as no away game is complete without one.

The numerous players from both teams as well as a few from Jody's previous club Cambridge formed a guard of honour as Jody and his family took to the field to rapturous applause all round. We were fielding players from around twelve years ago with Bobby Saxton being manager for the day while Mick McCarthy was looking after Wolves. Our starting line-up included the great Quinn and Phillips strike-force as well as Sorensen, Darren Williams, Alex Rae, Michael Gray, Gavin McCann and Kevin Kilbane. Two sides of the impressive stadium were closed and the fans were all mixed up together but there was a lot of booing when Superkev's name was announced, due to his past association with West Brom in particular, and this was repeated every time he got the ball. Rae was warmly received by both sets of fans as he'd played for both sides and made himself popular. Jody was playing in his familiar defensive role and wore the number 6 shirt of Wolves. I'm sure there were some muted groans when Kilbane was announced

I was impressed by the way both sides moved it around and most of them, without of course busting a gut, still looked pretty fit, especially Kev and Kilbane. There were countless substitutions throughout the game and the first for us was after around twenty minutes when Rae was subbed by the hugely popular Julio Arca. Alex had zipped around well but maybe that was enough for him. I don't know what Julio's up to these days but, apart from a couple of dodgy passes, he still looked good. The mood among the players and fans was friendly but Micky Gray still managed one or two tasty tackles here and there. He later earned much laughter when he missed a good chance by a mile and proceeded to roll around very theatrically in the manner of one or two modern-day prima donnas. The first-half was almost over when we took the lead and it was Quinny who got it. He'd had a couple of decent shots earlier that had gone just wide but then he got a header on a low cross from the right and it hit the back of the net. He seemed genuinely pleased and he ran over to hug Bobby Saxton. He was immediately substituted by Michael Proctor, feeling no doubt that he'd had enough.

There was a penalty shoot-out during the break which involved former Led Zep singer and Wolves fan Robert Plant taking kicks against Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey. It was clear that Mr Moxey is not exactly Mr Popular among the Wolves fans and there was a lot of booing as he took his place on the goal-line. “Knock his head off!” the guy next to me shouted as Plant ran up. I don't think Robert should give up the day job though, as he missed the goal completely from one kick, hit the bar with another and had one saved by Moxey. He passed another to former Wolves hero Steve Bull who slotted it home.

It was good to be at a game that wasn't controlled by the strictures of TV as the halves seemed to start when everyone finally got around to coming on. Thomas Myhre replaced Sorensen in goal for the second-half and Superkev stayed on for about another ten minutes when a wholesale changeover took place. After that I didn't really know half of the players in our side but both teams were taking it fairly seriously unlike the last testimonials I'd been to in the Sixties which always seemed to end with score-lines like 7-5. Wolves got an equalizer after about seventy minutes when Dave Edwards slotted in a low cross at our right-hand post. Jody had switched sides about ten minutes before that, though he retained his Wolves socks. With twelve minutes left we conceded the obligatory 'penalty' to allow Jody to get the winner but he brought on his three kids, each of whom shot past Myhre and thankfully didn't shoot wide.

So, the final score was given as 4-1 to Wolves but nobody was bothered about that. We were there to say thanks to Jody for being such a good player for both our sides and to donate our £10 admission and £5 programme fee to Birmingham Children's Hospital. The crowd was announced as 9,095 so that must have boosted the season-long event considerably. Jody made a short speech of thanks from the centre circle as all the players involved stood near him and as the applause continued to ring around Molineux I slipped away. The game needs more good guys like Jody.


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