Black Country Bugle
Ten-goal treat as Soviet side prove the equal of the Molineux men
Part 16 of our look back at the famous floodlit friendlies that brought a glow to Molineux in the 1950s and early ’60s
November 10, 1960
Wolves 5-5 Dynamo Tbilisi
Friendly Attendance: 35,000
BY winning the First Division in the 1957/58 season, Wolves qualified to play in the European Champions Cup and entered the world of knockout European football. This would limit the desire to stage future floodlit friendly games.
Wolves were not going down without a fight, and reverted to all-out attack
From the 1958/59 season to 1959/60 season Wolves entertained Schalke 04, A.S.K. Vorwärts Berlin, Red Star Belgrade and Barcelona in the European Cup – with only Barcelona being victorious at Molineux.
So, it was surprising that Wolves decided to fit a floodlit friendly between their two-legged game in the European Cup Winners’ cup competition game against FK Austria Vienna in the 1960/61 season.
The visitors for the friendly game would be Dynamo Tbilisi from the Soviet Union, in the south Georgia region. Wolves had been scheduled to play against Moscow Dynamo, who they had played twice in 1955, but Dynamo had committed to a tour of Africa, so Tbilisi took their place. This was a night when the Molineux crowd certainly got their value for the admission price. The game provided a total of ten goals! Dynamo started strongly and took the lead within two minutes through a goal by Russian international Meskhi. Wolves forward Ted Farmer scored an equalising goal after he had capitalised on a poor back-pass by Toradze, and steered the ball past goalkeeper
The Wolves fans’ joy was short-lived as they saw their side finish the first-half 3-1 down following two goals from Tbilisi captain
Gogoberudze, the second from a fierce shot off the underside of the crossbar that bulged the Wolves net to give the visitors a commanding lead going into the second-half.
Wolves manager Stan Cullis must have been concerned that the club’s undefeated record in the floodlit friendly games was at risk of being broken.
Cullis replaced Norman Deeley with Cliff Durandt and the introduction of the speedy winger made a positive impact as Durandt set-up Bobby Mason to score and cut the deficit to 2-3 to the visitors.
The comeback was short-lived as Tbilisi scored two more goals in two minutes to give the visitors a commanding 2-5 lead with only 15 minutes of the game remaining, following goals from Meskhi and
Wolves were not going to go down without a fight and a reversion to allout attack. Durandt scored a fine individual goal to make it 3-5. Farmer got his second of the night following an error from left-back Chohely to make it 4-5, and thus set-up another grandstand finish for the Molineux crowd. It fell to Jimmy Mullen to maintain Wolves’ unbeaten floodlit record as his last-minute headed goal sent the Molineux crowd into raptures. Wolves almost won it in the dying seconds of the game, as a mistake in the Tbilisi defence let in Farmer, but from an acute angle he could not find the winning goal. Despite the introduction of European Cup football, the fixture showed the importance that Cullis placed on the friendly game as he overlooked any temptation to rest players and instead named the same side that he had fielded in the previous three matches. All this despite facing league champions Burnley less than 48 hours later in a Turf Moor clash that Wolves led 2-0 after nine minutes, only to end up on the end of a 5-3 defeat. This was a high-scoring week like no other, with the club kicking it off with a 5-3 win at Molineux against
After that thrilling game it would be back to European Cup Winners’ Cup action with a second leg quarterfinal tie against F.K. Austria. The next floodlit game would be the conclusion of the friendlies against foreign opposition – and what a perfect way to finish this, with a return visit from Hungarian side Honved.