John Richards has declared his belief that Wolves will be competing at the top level for many years to come.
Richards was addressing around 220 supporters including 25 former players in his new role as vice-chairman of the Wolves Former Players Association in Molineux’s Hayward Suite last night.
Richards, the club’s former record goalscorer, spoke of his pride at the achievements of the current team, and of his desire to move on from the blow of missing out on the FA Cup final last weekend after the 3-2 defeat to Watford at Wembley.
“I would like to say at the moment how proud we are to be Wolves supporters,” said Richards, 68. “Sunday hurt and it really does hurt, but we can’t and should not let it overshadow what the club and the team have achieved this season, and in a short space of time since the new owners came in.
“On Sunday there were 34,000 supporters at Wembley and tens of thousands in pubs and clubs around the region and that was fantastic. There’s a real genuine belief that the club is ambitious and is on the up.
“It’s a team that’s young and very exciting and one that will be competing at the top level for many years to come.”
Richards also thanked Wolves and managing director Laurie Dalrymple, who also attended along with director John Gough, for their generous financial support of the event.
“We have enjoyed closer relations with the club in recent times, and look forward to continuing to work with them more and build on that healthy working relationship,” added Richards.
Dalrymple said: “We are all fiercely committed to continuing to do everything within our power to drive Wolves on to further success, but we never forget the roots of the club and the magnificent history that has gone before it.
“Many in the room played a part in the incredible history of Wolverhampton Wanderers, and head coach Nuno (Espirito Santo) has talked in glowing terms about the successes of the past, and the desire of the current team and backroom staff to one day try to emulate those achievements.”
Players from six decades attended the night, which was themed Midfield Maestros and featured Steve Daley, Robbie Dennison and Karl Henry and was hosted by Wolves fan and Sky Sports TV reporter Johnny Phillips.
Ted Farmer, Terry Wharton, Mike Bailey, Phil Parkes, Gerry Taylor, Kenny Hibbitt, Jim McCalliog, Geoff Palmer, Gerry O’Hara, Phil Nicholls, Willie Carr, Norman Bell, Mel Eves, Colin Brazier, Hugh Atkinson, Bob Coy, Andy Mutch, Ally Robertson, Steve Bull, Paul Jones and Kevin Foley were the others at the dinner, while the families of several players who have passed away – Bill Slater, Peter Broadbent, Bobby Thomson, Alf Crook, Dave Wagstaffe, Bert Williams and Malcolm Finlayson were also represented. Henry and Foley were attending for the first time.
Members of the Wolves family who have recently passed away – Ernie Hunt, Johnnie Walker, Ian Ross, Graham Newton and Slater – were also remembered.
Money raised from last night’s event will be split between two local charities, Compton Care and the Good Shepherd Centre, which helps the homeless and vulnerable around Wolverhampton.
Former captain Henry and ex-team-mate Foley visited the Good Shepherd Centre to find out more about their work just before Christmas, and members of the Wolves FPA committee were given a tour of their premises in February.