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‘A magic place to play’ – Hibbitt on 130 years of Molineux as parade planned

Above: Golden Molineux memories…Kenny Hibbitt celebrates a goal running in front of the North Bank with John Richards (right) in 1974. The much loved distinctive old gabled Molineux Street Stand provides the backdrop. Below: Molineux as it is today, from the Stan Cullis Stand looking towards the South Bank.

Wolves are planning a parade of former players as part of the celebrations for the 130th anniversary of Molineux on Saturday.
It’s understood up to 12 of the club’s highest appearance makers have been invited to the Premier League game against Chelsea to mark the special occasion.
Among those invited are club record appearance maker Derek Parkin, Kenny Hibbitt, who is second on the list, Steve Bull, the highest goalscorer, John Richards, John McAlle, Geoff Palmer, Phil Parkes – who holds the club record for consecutive appearances – and Andy Thompson. The players will enjoy a champagne reception hosted by Wolves director John Bowater then tuck into a three-course meal prior to the game before being presented to the crowd, either near kick-off or at half-time. Video tributes on the big screens may also form part of the celebrations.
Hibbitt made 574 appearances between 1968-84 and is delighted to be part of the day. “I feel very honoured and privileged to be asked to be part of the celebrations,” said the former midfielder, 68. “I spent 16 years at Wolves and loved my time there.
“To walk on the Molineux pitch in front of a full house will bring back a lot of good memories. It’s nice that it’s against Chelsea as well because I made my full debut against them, albeit at Stamford Bridge. There was a downpour so we were all soaking wet like drowned rats before kick-off, but I scored to put us ahead in a 2-2 draw and from there my career took off.
“It was always a privilege to play at Molineux, and to be captain because it meant I led the team out. I loved playing at Molineux with the old stand and the clock – there was a wonderful atmosphere and it was a fortress where teams didn’t enjoy coming.
“The crowd were right on top of you – when the ball went out of play you could have a conversation with the fans. It was just a magic place to play football. A lot of teams came to Molineux and if they got a draw, they would think they had done well.”
Wolves’ first official home game at Molineux was on Monday, September 2, 1889 for a friendly against Aston Villa. A crowd of 4,000 saw David Wykes score the only goal for a Wolves win. The first League game at the ground took place five days later when Wolves beat Notts County 2-0, when Wykes and Arthur Worrall were on target.
There have been several thousands of games since, including League title wins, promotions, relegations, semi-finals, a Charity Shield and play-offs as players, supporters and officials have been through a rollercoaster of emotions.
Hibbitt has his own special memories of the place, including one unique achievement – being the only Wolves midfielder to score four goals in a game, in a 4-2 win against his older brother Terry’s Newcastle on August 24, 1974. “Two were at the North Bank end and two were in front of the South Bank,” he recalled. “I scored the first with my left foot, then a penalty, a tap-in and a left-foot drive that flew into the top corner.
“That will always be in my heart. It wasn’t televised so no one can see the goals now but I can still see every one of them – and it was against my brother as well, which made it even more special.”
Goalkeeper Parkes is also looking forward to Saturday and reliving some old memories. “It’s fantastic to be part of the 130th anniversary,” he said. “Molineux is a special place. I was there for 16 years and most of the lads I played with were there a long time as well.
“I remember the game against Leeds on the Monday night (May 1972). There must have been 60,000 there with 10,000 locked out. I only lived in Bushbury but I had to get a police escort from the Three Tuns because the Stafford Road was jam-packed full of cars, otherwise I wouldn’t have got to the ground. You don’t forget things like that.
“There was all the talk of bribes so we knew the spotlight was on us, and on me, being a goalkeeper. Thankfully we won 2-1 and I got man of the match, so I was quite happy with that!”
But that famous game which denied Leeds the Double wasn’t Parkes’s favourite match at Molineux – that honour goes to his debut, on November 19, 1966. “I think most people remember their debuts,” he said. “At the start of the season I was fourth choice keeper, but Jim Barron and Dave Maclaren left and then Fred Davies got injured. I was 19 and I hadn’t even played that many reserve games so it was a bit of a shock, but we beat Preston 3-2 and Terry Wharton scored a penalty for the winner in the last minute.”