I originally wrote this for a website called “The Dugout” which was a collective of football writers, commentators and bloggers and it recently went offline and so I thought I’d share it here. At a time when Wolves are teasing us with a potential second successive relegation it seemed apt to talk about a man who took our club out of darkness and back into the light. I hope you enjoy it, thanks!
Every Wolves fan is aware of the dark and dreary days of the mid-Eighties that saw a once proud and successful club relegated three seasons running and that was back in the day before clubs had to be docked points for financial irregularities to guarantee them season after season of struggle (making Wolves something of an amazing anti-achievement club.) Then fortune fell our way. Graham Turner, after a poor 2 year spell (1984-86) with Aston Villa was let go and subsequently fell into the top job at Molineux and straight back into the league he’d shown modest abilities in the past, yes Division 4.
His first game in charge he took Wolves to a 2-1 win over Tranmere Rovers with Andy Mutch scoring (something that would become a regular thing over the next few years). Wins were in short supply for Wolves in the mid eighties. In the previous three season (83/84 to 85/86) Wolves had only won 15 out of 130 league games. Turner was instantly a success. His first season saw Wolves finish 4th in the basement division but they lost out to Aldershot town. It also saw a terrible 3-0 FA Cup defeat at the hands of Chorley but the one really hopeful thing about this season was the signing of Steve Bull from West Brom and the partnership that was formed between him and the aforementioned Mutch.
The 1987/88 season was the most successful season for Wolves in eight seasons and saw them grab not one piece of silverware but two. The season was an epic one with Steve Bull scoring over fifty times and Wolves winning the Fourth Division Championship and lift the Sherpa Van Trophy in front of their proud-again fans at Wembley. Not only that but they also turned out at Wembley in the Centenary Festival where they drew 1-1 with Everton, only to lose on penalties.
Two trophies and two trips to Wembley in the same season, not bad for a man who’d only been in the job less than two years. Graham Turner had achieved a lot very quickly and had set a new club record of 90 points in a single season. How was he supposed to top that?
Well in the 1988/89 season he somehow managed it. Leading Wolves to back to back championships as they marched through the division in one go ending the season top of the pile again with a new club record points haul of 92. He almost made it a double-double but unfortunately Wolves lost in the area-finals (semi final) of the Sherpa Van trophy to Torquay.
The 1989/90 season saw Wolves competing in the second tier of football again ending a decade that began with them lifting the League Cup in 1980 and saw them go to hell and back in the league. It was this season that gave Turner his best finish at this level with Wolves, finishing a respectable 10th place. In the following few seasons he consolidated Wolves as a decent mid table club in the second tier but never seemed to have enough to get them into the promotion play off frame. But during his tenure he’d seen the club taken over by Sir Jack Hayward, the rebuilding of Molineux, an England international and hero in Steve Bull being born and had himself been the rejuvenation of a once great club, when it needed him, in its hour of need. For that all Wolves fans salute Graham Turner as a true Molineux managerial hero. He left Wolves in March 1994 after 8 years of tremendous service to the club.
He went on to manage Hereford Utd and ShrewsburyTown and achieved modest success at both clubs giving both of them promotion campaigns from the fourth tier of football as he had once done with Wolves. In 2012 Turner was recognised by his peers and profession and given the “Contribution to League Football Award” at the Football League Awards that year. Hugely deserved and long overdue.
Graham Turner, you will forever be a Molineux legend.