Kenny Hibbitt is staying away from Wembley in the hope that Wolves’ FA Cup dream will come true.
The legendary Wolves midfielder, who won two League Cups in his 16 years at Molineux, fears he will bring bad luck on his beloved club by attending the FA Cup semi-final against Watford after they have lost on the last two occasions he has watched the team on their travels.
“I am not going to the semi-final because I feel I might be a kiss of death on us,” said the 68-year-old, who scored 114 goals in 574 games for Wolves from 1968-84.
“I went as a guest on Tatter Travels for the Villa game last season and we got beat 4-1, and then I went to Derby in pre-season and we lost 1-0, so I said I wasn’t going to Wembley. I don’t want to bring bad luck on us.”
Much to his bitter disappointment, Hibbitt, along with long-serving former team-mates Derek Parkin, John McAlle and John Richards, was a three-time loser in FA Cup semi-finals for the club.
But now he has convinced himself to stay away from Wembley because he sees himself as a bad luck charm, Hibbitt believes Wolves’ name could be on the Cup for the first time since they last won it in 1960.
“They can go one better and it will be the first time in 59 years, so it’s been a long time,” said the Yorkshireman.
“I really have a feeling that this is the season for Wolves. They just have to play like they have all season. They’re very well organised with brilliant players all over the pitch, and they’ve got a great midfield, and a fantastic manager with a great staff behind him.
“Having watched them against Manchester United, they came under the cosh for the first 20 minutes but at 1-0 down, the fans really got behind them and they responded well. It’s all there for them.
“They’ve just got to not be nervous, which is easy for me to say because I was the most nervous player ever! But once I crossed that white line, the nerves would disappear and I could concentrate on the game.
“Watford beat us 2-0 at home but Wolves have got good players and we are the better team if we go with the right attitude.
“I know we have a lot of foreign players but we have some English players who will tell them what the FA Cup means to people. We have a great opportunity to play in a final and if we get there, we will be the underdogs, but Manchester City don’t scare me.
“We have got experience so that will rub off on to the younger players and I really feel it’s our year.”
Having been a Premier League referees’ assessor for the last 16 years, Hibbitt keeps a watching brief on all top-flight teams. He believes Wolves rank among the best to have been promoted.
“Wolves have come a long way in the last 18 months to two years,” he said. “I have been working in the Premier League for the last 16 years and most promoted teams that have come up have struggled, but Wolves have adapted so well.
“OK, we have struggled sometimes against the lower teams but we have looked a Premier League team straight away – we’re not huffing and puffing and desperate for points.
“We are putting in good performances week after week and picking up points, which is something I haven’t seen a Wolves team do at this level for a long time.”
Hibbitt regrets missing out on an FA Cup final and believes Wolves should have reached Wembley in 1973 and 1981, against Leeds and Tottenham respectively.
“It was my schoolboy dream to play in an FA Cup final,” he said. “I was proud to have played in two League Cup finals, the UEFA Cup final and the Texaco Cup final, but as a kid, the ultimate aim was to play in the FA Cup final at Wembley, and I missed out on it three times.
“We played really well at Maine Road in 1973 and thought we should have got the right result. The second one, against Arsenal at Villa Park, was the biggest disappointment because we didn’t play at all and that’s why I shed tears at the end because it was another opportunity gone and I thought I had missed my chance for good.
“Then we had another opportunity in 1981 and I thought it was going to be third time lucky. We got them to extra-time after Willie Carr scored the penalty to equalise and we battered them in extra-time, but we couldn’t get another goal, then we were well beaten in the replay.
“Losing semi-finals is the worst because at least if you get to the final, you’ve got the occasion and you’ve got there. Hopefully Wolves can go one better this time.”