Kenny Hibbitt believes Wolves’ record-breaking support will make all a ‘massive difference’ to the team at Wembley and roar them to the FA Cup final.
The sold-out signs have been put up at Molineux after all 33,000 tickets were snapped up for the semi-final against Watford on Sunday, April 7.
It means Wolves will be watched by their biggest support for nearly 16 years, since a similar number travelled to Cardiff for the Championship play-off final against Sheffield United at the Millennium Stadium.
“Wolves have had a fantastic period over the last 18 months and expectations among the fans has risen, the atmosphere and support has gone through the roof and I’m not surprised that the tickets have all sold out,” Wolves legend Hibbitt told www.wolvesbite.com
“The club has risen again to the level it was in the 1970s and I’m delighted to see us doing so well again.”
The huge support reminds Hibbitt of his first trip to Wembley in 1974, when Wolves beat Manchester City in the League Cup final.
“That support can make a massive difference, without a shadow of a doubt,” added the former midfielder, twice a Wembley winner for Wolves in the League Cup, but sadly defeated in three FA Cup semi-finals.
“When we played in 1974 and were preparing to walk out of the tunnel, I was as nervous as a kitten, and I was one of a lot of young players, with Gary Pierce, Geoff Palmer, John McAlle, Alan Sunderland, John Richards and Barry Powell.
“But as soon as we walked out and saw those 50,000 Wolves fans with all the gold and black, the nerves disappeared.
“It lifted us so much and I thought they played a big part in us winning that cup.
“It’s going to be the same again on April 7 – I’m sure the support will have the same affect and it will be the same if we get to the final.”
Hibbitt played for Wolves for 16 years but for the last three decades has lived two hours away from Wolverhampton in the Cotswolds.
Despite the distance, he has been swept away by Cup fever in the south west.
“I’ve had people stopping me in the village, saying how well Wolves have done, and of course asking me for tickets, saying they’re desperate to go!” he said.
“I have been inundated for ticket requests, the like of which I have not experienced for a long time.
“Even on LinkedIn, I have had comments from people saying how fantastic it is for the club to be doing so well, and ‘can you get me any tickets for Wembley?’
“I want to give them all a chance to go, but sadly I can’t.”
Wolves’ support at Wembley will almost certainly be the club’s biggest number of travelling fans to a semi-final since 1949, when the Molineux men and Manchester United were watched by 62,250 at Hillsborough and 72,631 for the replay at Goodison Park.
There was no segregation of supporters until the late 1970s, plus the ‘home’ club at a neutral ground always had a significant number of tickets to sell as well, so it is difficult to put exact numbers on travelling support.
But it is believed Wolves had around 25,000 fans at The Hawthorns for the 1960 semi-final against Villa when the attendance was 55,596, and over 20,000 to Maine Road in 1973 against Leeds (attendance 52,488), the same number to Villa Park for Arsenal in 1979 (46,244) and to Hillsborough in 1981 against Tottenham (50,174).
Around 19,000 travelled to Villa Park for Wolves’ last semi-final in 1998 against Arsenal (39,372).