Black Country Derby - History

History

The derby is one of the oldest in the world, with both clubs founder members of the English Football league. The derby is one of the most passionately contested in the country, with both clubs being of similar size with similar fanbases. The game attracts large crowds at The Hawthorns and Molineux. The record attendance for the derby is 60,945, set on 4 March 1950 in a 1–1 draw at The Hawthorns. That same season 56,661 saw the two sides draw 1-1 at Molineux. Both stand today as record league attendances for both clubs. The first ever Black Country derby took place on 20 January 1883, when Albion won 4–2 in the third round of the Birmingham Senior Cup. The teams first met in the FA Cup on 2 January 1886, when Albion won 3–1 en route to reaching the final. In all, there have been 159 Black Country Derbies, seeing 62 Albion wins, 53 Wolves wins and 44 draws. Albion's record victory against Wolves was an 8-0 away win in 1893, whilst Wolves' greatest victory was 7-0 at Molineux in 1963. The derby reached is zenith in the 1950s when both sides challenged at the top of English football when Wolves enjoyed League and Cup domination for a good deal of the 50's whilst Albion were also a strong side, renowned for their attacking flair. The derby has always been fierce although it is worth noting that for a long time Albion fans considered Aston Villa to be their main rivals. However, during the 1990s, when both sides were languishing in the second tier with just local pride to play for, Villa were in the top division, leading to a more heated rivalry surrounding the more common matches between the lower-tier sides. Most Albion fans now consider Wolves to be their greatest rivals whilst fans of Wolves have always considered Albion to be their main rivals.

The two teams have only ever met once in the final of any competition - the Charity Shield in 1954. At the time, Wolves, under manager Stan Cullis, were widely regarded one of the best teams in the world with their fast attacking style of play, whilst Albion were famed for their unique brand of attacking football. The game finished 4–4 in front of a Molineux crowd of 45,035. The scorers that night were Roy Swinbourne (2), Norman Deeley and Johnny Hancocks for Wolves and Ronnie Allen (3) and Reg Ryan for Albion. The previous season had seen Wolves pip Albion to the league title as the latter came close to completing the first 20th century English double, winning their fourth FA Cup. Albion had topped the table for the majority of the season but collapsed late on losing by four points 53-57. It is worth noting that Wolves beat Albion home and away that year, winning 1-0 both times, which proved crucial in the end.

The derby featured in the first 14 consecutive seasons of the Football League. However, the clubs once went 13 years without facing each other between 1911 and 1924 after West Brom were promoted from Division 2 while Wolves remained at that level for the intervening time. In the subsequent time, the derby has featured almost annually or with minor breaks, with the longest gap since occurring between April 1984 and October 1989.

Another major event in the rivalry between the two clubs was West Brom's promotion to the Premier League in 2001–02 season. With nine games of the season remaining for both clubs, Wolves were ten points ahead of West Brom but gained only 10 more points compared to West Brom's 23 and West Brom clinched automatic promotion in second place on the final day of the season with a 2-0 win at home to Crystal Palace. Wolves were subsequently beaten in the play-offs by Norwich City.

The 2006–07 season saw the teams meet a record 5 times. West Brom took the first meeting with a 3-0 win at The Hawthorns. Wolves won in the return fixture at Molineux 1-0. The clubs also met in the FA Cup with West Brom winning 3-0 at Molineux - with a major riot following in the city centre as hundreds of fans clashed. 11 police officers were injured in the chaos.

Hooliganism has been a major problem in the derby since the 1960s and recent years have seen the police intervene more closely in the timing of the games. The fixture has not been staged at the traditional English kick-off time of 3pm on a Saturday since 1996, although this has also often been at the request of television. Friction between the two clubs' fanbases has also seen major restrictions on local pubs on match days.

On 20 February 2011 the two sides met for the first time in the Premier League (the last top flight derby being in the First Division 27 years earlier) at the Hawthorns and the match ended 1-1 thanks to goals in either half from Jamie O'Hara and an injury time point saver from Carlos Vela, thus preventing a first away win for Wolves at Albion for 14 years. Unfortunately this led to ugly scenes after the match with fans clashing, with a flare being thrown by Wolves fans and seats being thrown back by Albion fans.

On 08 May 2011 at Molineux, in the return fixture of the 2010-11 Premier League season, Wolves claimed the bragging rights in a 3-1 win with goals from Steven Fletcher (2) and Adlene Guedioura cancelling out Peter Odemwingie's penalty. The victory was particularly crucial in helping Wolves survive.

On 16 October 2011, the sides met at The Hawthorns and West Brom reclaimed the bragging rights thanks to a 2-0 win, with goals in each half from Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie.

On 12 February 2012, West Brom humiliated Wolves by winning 5-1 away at Molineux. Striker Peter Odemwingie grabbed a hat-trick while former Wolves midfielder Keith Andrews and Jonas Olsson sealed the victory. Wolves manager Mick McCarthy was sacked the next day, after his team had picked up just 14 points from a possible 66.

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