In the latest Flashback article, columnist Graham Large looks back to 1980/81 and an FA cup tie between Wolves and Middlesbrough.
On March 10, 1981, a huge crowd of 40,524 watched the FA Cup quarter-final replay between Wolves and Middlesbrough – which, incidentally, was the last time Molineux broke the 40,000 barrier.
The Teessiders were easily the better side in the first meeting at Ayresome Park, and really should have added to their tally after Terry Cochrane’s equaliser cancelled out Andy Gray’s early header, but they failed to turn their superiority into goals.
The replay was staged at Molineux three nights later and it got off to a dramatic start when Yugoslav striker Bosco Jankovic appeared to put Boro ahead after just five minutes, only to realise he had been ruled offside.
Having been let off the hook, Wolves quickly recovered and started to impose themselves with Wayne Clarke hitting the underside of the bar and the inside of the post during a lively early spell.
With 11 minutes on the clock Wolves broke the deadlock, Jim Platt pushed Kenny Hibbitt’s free-kick onto the bar and Mel Eves reacted quickly to head in the rebound.
Wolves led at the interval, but Boro rallied and came out the stronger side right from the outset in the second period and suddenly the game was wide open.
Goalkeeper Paul Bradshaw made a good save to deny David Hodgson, before both Cochrane and Wolves full-back Derek Parkin were booked for a scuffle as the tension mounted.
But Boro’s pressure finally paid off as they levelled on 71 minutes when Hodgson played in Jankovic, who chipped the ball back across goal where Hodgson arrived unmarked to head home.
The visitors then had a golden chance to snatch a winner at the death but Cochrane couldn’t quite steer David Armstrong’s corner goalwards.
After the regulation 90 minutes failed to produce a winner, Boro looked the more confident team going into extra time. However, they were caught napping by Wolves.
A poor throw-in gifted possession straight to Willie Carr and he passed it down the line to Andy Gray who crossed for John Richards to score from inside the box.
Soon after, Billy Ashcroft’s shot was cleared off the line as Boro pressed for an equaliser, but once again they were caught out by a counter attack.
Substitute striker Norman Bell pounced onto a long through ball and lashed an unstoppable shot past Platt to wrap the game up two minutes from the end.
Wolves had booked their place in the FA Cup semi-final, however, they would go on to lose to eventual winners Tottenham.
Few could have predicted the disastrous consequences both Wolves and Middlesbrough would face in the months to come; they were relegated together at the end of the following season with liquidation on the horizon for both teams.
Fast-forward to more recent times and, thankfully, the situation has changed drastically with the duo being two of the most financially-stable clubs in the Football League.
Although Wolves’ financial health has improved, their record on Teesside certainly has not. They have not won at Middlesbrough in their last 22 attempts since a 2-1 victory under the watch of legendary boss Stan Cullis on April 11, 1951. That was 64 years ago!
Middlesbrough also have the better overall record in the fixture with 32 wins from 64 matches, while Wolves have only claimed victory on 18 occasions.
However, Wolves claimed the three points when the sides met earlier in the season as Bakary Sako and Nouha Dicko scored in a 2-0 victory.
With Wolves desperately needing three points to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive, the time to end the hoodoo is now.
Let’s face it, sooner or later, every streak must come to an end.