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Claire Elliott’s Wolves Tour Diary – Day One

Claire Elliott is a lifelong Wolves fanatic watching the team in China with her husband Greg. editor Tim Nash has known her for many years and once smuggled her into the press box at Millwall to give a fan’s eye view for the Express & Star. Here’s her early thoughts on the historic trip. (Sorry if it sounds a bit dated; my fault – Tim.)

From the land of the rising sun we bring our version of out of darkness cometh light with a two week trip to China. I’ve never written a blog before – I mean, who wants to read about anything I’ve got to say?! So when Tim asked me to do this blog, it was with a little bit of trepidation!

In common with most Wolves fans, I’ve never seen Wolves in Europe – unless you count pre-season friendlies in the Anglo Italian Cup – and also never visited China. So when Wolves announced in April that they were taking part in the Premier League Asia Trophy and then qualified for the Europa League, it was all my Christmases rolled into one. The excitement was palpable.

A little about me. I’m a fanatical Wolves fan, married to Greg, also a fanatical Wolves fan. I’ve followed Wolves for more than 35 years; the last 24 years as an away season ticket holder. I’m the daughter of Bill – a Wolves fan from sleepy Worcestershire. In fact, the village we lived in – Kempsey – is where Sir Edward Elgar used to live. Elgar was a Wolves fan and used to cycle to Molineux from Kempsey to watch matches. I used to work as a nurse before retraining as a solicitor and volunteered my services as a first aider to Wolves when the club’s finances were grim in the late 1980s.

When the Express & Star set up an internet forum ‘Molineux Mix’ I became the moderator. I now help moderate the group wolves-news on Facebook. I used to write as ‘Shewolf’ in A Load of Bull,(when sharing a taxi with Sir Jack Hayward once, he told me he read it and that he loved my monicker.) If you’re wondering, I paid! How else to show my gratitude?

In January last year, having had two years of poor health and cancer treatment, I was diagnosed as terminally ill with a year to live. No sympathy please, I am still here, fighting on. I set myself targets – seeing Wolves reach the Premier League again and then when that was achieved, I set a new target of seeing Wolves reach Europe. It’s so amazing to have see Wolves achieve promotion and then to qualify for Europe. A dream come true. I truly believe the wonderful three seasons we have had with Nuno, Fosun and not forgetting Kenny Jackett have aided me in outliving my one year prognosis.

So China.. what to do, how to prepare? First of all, flights…well isn’t it lovely that Lufthansa have a two-for-one deal on business class flights to Beijing?

My phone is buzzing with emails and messages, from fellow Wolves fans excited that the team are going to China enquiring if I am going. Bish, Andy, Nick, Russ, Carl, David (aka Reg) and all part of the travelling Hatherton Wolves contingency all confirm they are travelling, as do Chris, Bart and Richard Perkins from Tatter Travel.

So begins frantic checks of flights, what vaccinations do I need and oh hell China visas, could they be even worse than Russian visas?

So flights are booked, no vaccinations needed so it’s just the visa for China isn’t it?! Nope! It looks like qualifying for Europe via the Europa League may affect travelling back from China? Frantic messages backwards and forwards from other fans show Wolves will enter the second qualifying round on July 25. Panic over, we fly back from Hong Kong via Frankfurt so if necessary we can change there.

Just a swift visit to the Chinese Embassy in London to get our visas, offload £370 for the privilege and we will be on our way. (Note to anyone ever attending the Chinese Embassy for a visa in lieu of our future Chinese sojourns in the Premier League Asia Trophy – take a photocopy of all your flights, passport, hotels, train journeys and cash and you will be quickly on your way. If you don’t have all this information take about £50 in pound coins to fill up their printer and photocopier and watch while all their staff except for one go out for exactly one hour for lunch at 12 midday! Oh and prepare to have your fingerprints taken!

Coming up next…we’re on our way to Nanjing. We’re on our way!