- Matt Rees
Molineaux Stadium – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Molineux Stadium Waterloo Rd. Wolverhampton, England WV1 4QR United Kingdom
Wolverhampton Wanderers website
Year Opened: 1889
Wandering Around Molineux
Ever since seeing relegation from the Premier League in 2012, Wolverhampton Wanderers have plummeted down the English football ranks, playing the 2013-14 season in the third tier, better know as the “Sky Bet League One.” However, under new manager Kenny Jackett, order is looking to be restored, as they are favourites to be promoted back into the Championship.
The Wanderers have always been apart of England’s rich footballing history, as they were founders of the Football League in 1888. Not only this, but the East Midlands club can be thanked for the development of continental soccer, as they helped create the European Cup, or what is now called the “UEFA Champions League.” During an eleven year spell, between 1949 and 1960, the Wanderers won the League three times and the domestic cup twice. As for the stadium, Molineux has played host to Wolves ever since 1889, and in recent years, has been renovated to 31,700 in a hope to give Wolves a stable base, something that has always been lacking.
As for the ground, it is…well, weird. In 1990, when Sir Jack Hayward took over the club, it paved a way for new developments. He modernised all the stands to meet the FA’s regulations and brought the capacity to 28,525. At the time, it was one of England’s finest stadiums. However, over the years, it has slowly declined–much like the team–and now looks grotty. The Billy Wright and Steve Bull stands are weirdly shaped, almost bending outwards from the pitch. The view from where I sat on the Steve Bull stand was admittedly very good, yet was rather cramped! The newly renovated Stan Cullis on the other hand, looks rather swanky, though it is still awkwardly shaped, placed to the right of the pitch, rather than in the center.
Food & Beverage 3
As I say in all my reviews of traditional English stadiums, the food and beverage is poor and overpriced. And Molineux slips right into this category. A beer and hot chocolate came to a staggering £6.50 ($10.75) – one of the highest prices I have ever encountered. Bearing in mind that League One clubs are small, Wolves really do stretch the limit on their prices for fans. As for food, burgers, chicken burgers are £4.50, which is extortionate considering the quality.
As for the service, there are many areas to buy food from inside the ground, and the queues are dealt with swiftly. Other foods include £3 ($5) pies, in a range of varieties like “Meat and Pie” and “Cheese and Onion.” Overall, the food is, well, okay, with prices like that of Premier League clubs.
The facilities are fine, including the catering, serving a range of Wrights Pies including; Steak and Ale, Chicken Balti, Moroccan Chick Pea (all £3.60), Hot Dogs (£4.50), Sausage Rolls (£4) and Vegan Sausage Rolls (£4), Teas & Coffees (£2.30), Bovril or Hot Chocolate (£2.40).
The fans pack the grounds before the match and various vendors set up shop selling merchandise and food. There is also live music and big screen TVs outside the entrance for pre-match party atmosphere. Everyone in the crowd is more than likely wearing a bright yellow kit with the Wolves logo.
If every stand sung and roared like the fans on the “Jack Harris” stand, the rating would undoubtedly be five-star. However, this was not the case. Before the match, all the home fans came together to sing “Hi, ho, Wolverhampton” which hit me hard, as the noise was incredible. Yet after that, the atmosphere fell flat. The only exception was the “Jack Harris” stand, situated by the away fans, who sung their hearts out whilst the team were doing well and were incredible. As it’s a small stand, the fans packed together and this really stood out, intimidating the away fans.
When the team were losing however, Molineux fell silent and the fans started getting on at the team, which only encouraged the travelling team. Now, I understand that the fans are disgruntled at the situation they currently find themselves in, and this has clearly affected the noise in the ground. When in the Premier League, Molineux was a fortress and it really played 12th man for the team, as Wolves managed to beat teams like Man United, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
Around the ground, the area is fine, and I have no complaints. In and amongst the area, there are a few pubs – dominated by home fans as you expect. Eating is fine, as there are a quite a few local takeaways, which I advise as the food is cheaper and an overall better quality. If wanting to make a day out of your visit to Wolverhampton, this can be achieved by visiting Bentley Retail Park. After taking a trip there on a previous day, there is a top class Hollywood Bowl bowling alley, cinema, and other cheap fast food outlets, such as KFC and McDonald’s.
After seeing their team be very mediocre for the past decade, it’s easy to understand that Wolves fans are frustrated. However, I have to applaud the Wanderers’ support, as it is just magnificent. Even in League One, fans continue to fill Molineux, which provides a special experience for away fans, as many traveling teams are used to crowds of around 5,000, not 30,000! Wolves have always been a well-supported team and this is shown by the ambition of the owners, as they have plans in the future to extend Molineux to over 50,000, which is a little unrealistic at this stage. As for away days, Wolverhampton are easily the best in League One, filling out away ticket allocations every week.
My only issue with the fans is something quite remarkable. The fans in the Jack Harris Stand started hurling abuse at their own set of fans around the ground. Now you’re probably thinking “What?” But this was the case. These fans started ironically jeering and swearing at the other home fans in the other stands when they finally started singing. This amazed and shocked me, as it was really uncalled for. However, if you look at it in another perspective, I suppose it shows that the fans were desperate for the atmosphere to improve and to get behind their beloved team.
Parking direct outside Molineux is something I heavily advise against, unless you want to get there two hours in advance! The traffic around the ground can be very busy, so if wanting to park, I advise to park around 15 minutes away from the ground and walk the rest, as it saves so much time. There are many car parks in this area, though what we did was book a spot at a car park in advance online, for only £3 ($5). This saved so much time and was great value, as we were only fifteen minutes away from the ground and was guaranteed a place.
The other popular form of transport includes going by train. Wolverhampton Train Station is a fifteen minute walk from the ground and eliminates the obstacle of possible heavy traffic. If wanting to add a special touch to your experience, it is possible to get a train to Birmingham Train Station and then a tram to Wolverhampton, where you can walk to the ground.
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices range in two categories and an adult can attend a game for as low as £25 in Category B. The highest price ticket is £46 in Category A; depending on your price point and the view you want of the pitch, the choose is yours. Tickets for 65 plus range from £15 to £26.60 and fans under 17 can get in from as low as £6 to £26.50.
Firstly, Wolves is a unique club, as they have their own museum. Opened in 2012, the museum presents a lot of content for diehard Wolves fans and also the neutral. For example, there are a few interactive activities, like “Beat The Goalie,” in which you compete to score past a computer generated keeper.
Outside the ground are three quite stunning statues. The first is of club legend Billy Wright. This bronze figure captures Wright running with a ball tucked underneath his arm, giving the experience a historic feel. The second is of historic manager Stan Cullis and this again gives the overall experience a special feel, as this is magnificent. The third statue is of Sir Jack Hayward who was the club’s owner from 1990 to 2007.
Additionally, inside the ground are a number of Sportingbet.com betting parlours. Also, outside the ground is the programme £3 ($5) and admittedly this is a very poor one, as the printing quality is shoddy and the actual material is a cheap paper, which makes it so flimsy.
Overall, I found visiting Molineux a great occasion, as it was special to see a packed house for a third-tier football match. The atmosphere was special throughout the first half, and the quality of football was unexpectedly incredibly high. My only issue is the lack of care for the stands and also the ticket prices. In my opinion, visiting Molineux is something I wouldn’t advise against as it has some nice features, yet this isn’t a ground that stands out as amazing, as it needs a lot of improvements.