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Early Days Information

I have managed to find out a little bit more, but nothing concrete. Pat Quirke has confirmed that he believes Wolves first big game was against Wednesbury Old Athletic in 1881, but the issue is what is meant by "big game." I believe it to be the first time they entered an organised competition. I thought it might be the Wednesbury Cup, but there is no record of games before 1883, so I have presumed that is when the competition started, so it could not have been that competition. Then there is the Wrekin Cup which Wolves won in 1884, but again no record can be found of Wolves playing in that competition prior to 1884, though there is every reason to think that Wolves entered the Wrekin Cup earlier than 1884. So that is a possibility. However if one looks at the Staffordshire Cup, it does raise the eyebrow. The Staffordshire Cup was first played for in 1877/78, and most local sides entered it, including the likes of WOA, West Bromwich Strollers, Tipton, Stafford Road and clubs from the potteries. Now with so many clubs in the area entering, there is every possibility that St Lukes also entered it. WOA won the Staffordshire Cup in 1879/80, and they did play Wolves at some time time in the early 1880's.

So based on very little evidence, but trying to match clubs and dates, I think that there is a possibility that Wolves first big game was in the Staffordshire Cup in 1881/82 against Wednesbury Old Athletic.

Regarding the first game as Wolves, I still think that was against Stourbridge Standard, but again I cannot back that up with hard facts.

Please note that where I have said "Wolves", at the time they were known as "Wanderers Cricket and Football Team," with the word "cricket" removed shortly afterwards. And at some stage later on, the prefix "Wolverhampton" was added.
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Thanks frank. This has been fascinating. Really appreciate your research efforts.
Its not research you know, he's just checking his diaries :)
Diaries????? he couldn't write back then, this is true memory stuff and frank, it's fascinating and many thanks you old git. ha ha ha
The earliest use of the name Wolverhampton Wanderers I have come across is the club's 1881-82 Annual Report which is reproduced on pg13 of Percy M. Young's book "Centenary Wolves."

If we accept Jack Brodie's account (in Patrick A. Quirke's book) of the merger between St Lukes & the Wanderers Cricket Club as having taken place in the summer of 1881, then the name Wolverhampton Wanderers must have been adopted sometime between then & the end of the 1881-82 season.

On the other hand, if we prefer Percy M. Young's version, it could have been as early as 1879.

I'm inclined to regard Jack Brodie's account as the more reliable. For all its scholarly tone, Young's book is not error-free. Most strikingly, he describes how the day after the November 1876 meeting at St Lukes, those gentlemen interested in how the game should be played, watched Staffford Rd FC beat West Bromwich Albion in a Birmingham & Distict FA Cup Tie. The problem is that the game couldn't have taken place in 1876 as WBA were still 2 years away from being formed!

Apart from clearly stating the club's full title as Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, the 1881-82 Annual report is interesting for a couple of other reasons.

Firstly, it shows Wolves already playing competitive games albeit in what we would now regard as minor cup competitions. Of the 18 games played by the first team, 5 were cup ties. Secondly, among the rest of the games (presumably these were friendlies) there are 2 consecutive meetings with Wednesbury Old Athletic's B team. The fact that the Wanderers were only playing Wednesbury's B team is an indication that there was a gap still to be bridged between the likes of the Wolves & the top West Midlnds teams of that era such as WOA.
Very interesting indeed. Thank you for that, but in a way it poses even more questions. That annual report is the first written word about when the the club became Wolverhampton Wanderers, but Brodie said in 1908 that he was not sure when the prefix "Wolverhampton" was added to the Wanderers name. Didn't Pat Quirke say that he thought the full name was added to the annual report at a later date?

Now regarding these games in 1881-82, they were almost certainly in competitions such as the Wrekin Cup or Staffordshire Cup. There is also a good possibility that with football teams being formed in the area that there was a Wolverhampton and District works cup competition. But as always, finding hard evidence is extremely difficult.

Have you noticed that whenever looking into those early days that Wednesbury Old Athletic's name keeps on popping up. They were the top club in the area at that time, so it makes sense that the newly formed St Lukes would not play against their first team. The same happened when St Lukes played Stafford Road, they fielded their reserve team.
While it’s possible that the title Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club was added at a later date to the 1881-82 Annual Report, the initials W.W.F.C. feature in the body of the report & I think they would have been difficult to add later.

According to Jack Brodie’s account, the Wanderers part of the name is the product of the merger between St Lukes & the Wanderers Cricket club which he places in the summer of 1881. He suggests that the Wolverhampton prefix wasn’t part of the name initially but looking at the evidence it must have been adopted sometime before the production of the 1881-82 Annual Report.

Rewinding slightly, there are a couple of aspects of the very earliest days that seem destined to prompt discussion.

Firstly there’s the Goldthorn F.C/ St Lukes naming issue. I can imagine a certain amount of pressure being brought to bear regarding the naming of the new club. Despite the fact that the “Goldthorn Football Club” appeared on the 1876 poster, I can imagine it being pointed out that perhaps it would be more appropriate to call the club St Lukes. After all the initial meeting was to take place on St Lukes property & if there was any funding required it would come from either school or parish coffers.

The other issue is the presence of another team with the name St Lukes. Within a few years the original St Lukes became the Wolves, a team that would soon be competing on a national level. That would have left behind a void. The explosion in popularity of the game would have resulted in young men in areas such as Blakenhall wanting to play football but with no prospect of playing for the likes of Wolves who were starting to go places. Hence the formation of teams to play at a more local level. It’s not implausible that one of those teams could have been a new incarnation of St Lukes.

All pure speculation on my part of course – but I hope you don’t mind.
Revisiting this thread for a bit of help.

There was a team called Blakenhall St Lukes who played a couple of games in 1876, were they the same St Lukes that went on to become WWFC? And if so it does help in my belief that the game against Stafford Road was not the first game played by the club.