Wolverhampton Wanderers is an English professional football club from the city of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands region.
More commonly referred to as Wolves, the club was a founding member of the Football League. It currently plays in the Premier League, the highest level of league-football in England.
Wolves enjoyed decent success in various parts of the 20th century. The club has won 3 top-division league titles, 4 FA Cups and 2 League Cups. It sits 4th in terms of points won across all the divisions of England. Wolves were the first side to win all 4 divisions of the English professional game and have won every competition in domestic football.
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The traditional colours of Wolverhampton Wanderers are gold and black. It alludes to the city council’s motto “out of darkness comes light”, with the two colours representing light and darkness, respectively. The club crest has seen various changes and it currently features an angular design of a single wolf-head.
Since 1889, Molineux Stadium has served as the home-ground for Wolves which presently has a capacity of 32,050. It was the first stadium in the country to be built for use by a Football League club. Besides the UK, the club has an international fan-base in Australia, United States, Spain, German and the Scandinavian countries.
Wolves compete in the Black Country Derby with West Bromwich Albion, with only 11 miles separating the two clubs. The club also shares a big rivalry with the Birmingham clubs, Aston Villa and Birmingham City. Geographically, the closest club is Walsall but it is not considered a major rival due to the discrepancy between the two clubs.
Wolverhampton Wanderers was founded in 1877 as St. Luke’s FC by two pupils of the St. Luke’s Church School in Blakenhall. It later merged with the football section of a local cricket club named Blakenhall Wanderers to become Wolverhampton Wanderers on 8th August 1879.
The club moved to a venue on Dudley Road in 1881. It lifted its first trophy by winning the Wrekin Cup in 1884, the same year in which it made its debut in the FA Cup. It soon turned professional and was nominated to be one of the 12 founding members of the Football League in 1888.
The Early Decades
In the inaugural season of the Football League in 1888/89, Wolverhampton finished the campaign in 3rd position. The club also reached its maiden FA Cup final, losing 3-0 to Preston North End. At the conclusion of the campaign, Wolves relocated to the newly built Molineux Stadium.
Wolves remained in the top-end of the Football League in its infancy until the league was extended into two separate tiers. In 1892/93, it finished the season in 11th position of the First Division. However, the club picked up its first major title by winning the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Everton in the final.
The team remained in the bottom-half of the First Division for the next few years. In 1895/96, Wolves reached the final of the FA Cup once again but ended as runners-up after losing 2-1 against Sheffield Wednesday. The following season it ended the league in 3rd position for its best performance in the First Division.
Wolverhampton was relegated from the top-flight for the first time after finishing the 1905/06 campaign in 20th position. Despite being a Second Division side, Wolves lifted the FA Cup in 1908/09 by beating Newcastle United 3-1 in the final. But it was not able to earn promotion and remained in the 2nd tier.
Wolves were on the rise when World War I broke out and the Football League was suspended for 4 years. When football resumed following the end of the war, it was no longer a competitive side in the Second Division. Eventually, the club was relegated after ending the 1922/23 season down in 22nd position.
In 1923/24, Wolves featured in Third Division North and went on to win the league to gain an immediate return to the 2nd tier. The club stayed in the Second Division and even came close to going down once again before winning the title in 1931/32 and earning its promotion to the top-flight after 25 years.
Upon returning to the First Division, Wolves barely managed to survive the 1932/33 campaign after finishing just 2 points above the drop-zone in 20th spot. The team did not make much headway over the next few years but managed to finish the 1937/38 season in 5th position.
At the end of 1937/38, Wolves put up its best-finish in the First Division after ending the season just a point behind Arsenal in 2nd position. It finished as runners-up again in 1938/39 and went on to the final of the FA Cup where it was beaten 4-1 by Portsmouth. But World War II began soon after and football was suspended once again.
The Post-War Era
When the Football League resumed in 1946/47, Wolverhampton came out in a pretty strong position by taking 3rd place in the First Division. It stayed in the upper echelons for the next few years and finished as runners-up in 1949/50 after losing the title to Portsmouth due to an inferior goal-average.
The club then went through a couple of mediocre seasons before snatching 3rd spot in the league-table once again at the end of 1952/53. Wolves then went on to beat arch-rivals West Bromwich Albion in the title-race to finally register its maiden First Division triumph in 1953/54.
In 1954/55, Wolves ended as runners-up in the First Division, losing the title to Chelsea by 4 points. The team finished in 3rd spot in 1955/56 before dropping down to 6th place. At this time, the club staged high-profile flood-lit friendly games that were instrumental in the evolution of the European Cup.
Wolverhampton clinched the First Division title once again 1957/58 to earn its maiden qualification to the European Cup. But the club was knocked out in the 1st round of the competition by German side Schalke 04. Nevertheless, it was able to successfully defend its league-title in 1958/59 to win the First Division for the 3rd time.
Wolves finished as runners-up of the First Division in 1959/60 after losing out its league-title to Burnley by a single point. However the club went on to win the FA Cup for the 4th time after beating Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in the final. It ended 1960/61 in 3rd position but would have a hard time in the subsequent years.
In 1961/62, Wolves narrowly avoided the drop after dropping down the table to 18th position. Despite taking 5th place in the following campaign, it fell back to 16th spot in 1963/64. The club was relegated from the top-flight for a 2nd time after finishing in 21st position at the end of 1964/65.
After dropping down to the 2nd tier, Wolves were unsuccessful in making an immediate return to the First Division having ended the 1965/66 season in 6th position. In 1966/67, it improved enough to become runners-up of the Second Division and sealed promotion to the top-flight.
Having made its comeback to the First Division, Wolves ensured its survival by finishing 1967/68 in 17th spot. It stayed in the bottom-half for a couple more years before moving up to take 4th spot in 1970/71. The club lifted the League Cup in 1973/74 by defeating Manchester City 2-1 in the final.
Despite growing into a steady mid-table side, Wolves were relegated from the First Division after ending the 1975/76 campaign in 20th spot. However, the club was able to make a quick return to the top-flight once again by winning the Second Division title in 1976/77.
Upon its re-arrival to the First Division, Wolves barely managed to hang on to its spot in the top-tier for the initial couple of seasons. But in 1979/80, the club went on to take 6th position in the league after picking up its 2nd League Cup title courtesy of 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the final.
The following 1980/81 campaign proved to be a testing one, however, as Wolves barely survived the drop after ending just a couple of points above the bottom-3 in 18th spot. In 1981/82, the club was relegated from the First Division once again after ending the season down in 21st position.
Wolverhampton managed to earn an immediate promotion to the top-flight after ending 1982/83 as runners-up of the Second Division. But its stay in the top-flight was short-lived as it was relegated from the First Division in 1983/84 having finished the season at the very bottom of the league.
Meanwhile, the financial situation of the club had almost reached breaking-point by this time. Wolves were relegated from the Second Division as well after ending 1984/85 in 22nd position. The club then finished 1985/86 in 23rd position of the Third Division for a 3rd successive relegation.
In 1986/87, Wolverhampton featured in the 4th tier of English football for the first time and ended the campaign on 4th spot. It picked up the Fourth Division title in 1987/88 to move to the 3rd tier. The club then went to win the Third Division in 1988/89 to secure back-to-back promotions to the 2nd tier.
Wolves returned to the Second Division in 1989/90 and finished the season in 10th position. It remained in the mid-table until the 1992/93 campaign when the league was renamed Division following the inception of the Premier League as the new top-flight of English league football.
At the end of 1994/95, Wolves ended up in 4th position of Division One to earn a spot in the promotion-playoffs but went out to Bolton Wanderers in the semi-final. It qualified for the playoffs again after taking 3rd place in 1996/97 but was beaten by Crystal Palace at the semi-final phase.
Wolves dropped into mid-table of Division One for the next few years until it narrowly missed out on gaining a direct promotion in 2001/02 after finishing in 3rd place. And once again the club could not clinch the playoffs and was eliminated at the semi-final stage by Norwich City.
The Contemporary Period
In 2002/03, Wolves finished in 5th position of Division One to earn a playoff-berth once more. This time it went past Reading and Sheffield United to get back to the top-flight after two decades. The club started 2003/04 in the Premier League for the first time but ended down in 20th spot to get relegated after a single campaign.
Up & Down
Wolverhampton Wanderers came back to the 2nd tier in 2004/05 which was now known as the Football League Championship. After a couple of mid-table finishes it took 5th spot in 2006/07 to earn a berth in the promotion-playoffs but went out to West Bromwich Albion in the semi-finals.
The 2007/08 campaign turned out to be a disappointing one with Wolves finishing in 7th position. However, the team was able to make amends in the subsequent 2008/09 season by winning the Championship and thereby securing a direct route back to the top-flight.
Wolves returned for its second outing in the Premier League in 2009/10 and this time it was able to ensure its status with a 15th place finish. In 2010/11, it narrowly survived the drop after ending just 1 point above the bottom-3. The club was relegated at the end of 2011/12 having finished rock-bottom of the league in 20th position.
In the following 2012/13 season, Wolves could only get 23rd spot in the Championship and therefore suffered consecutive relegations which dropped the club into the 3rd tier once again. But it managed to pick up the League One title in 2013/14 to earn an instant promotion to the 2nd tier.
Wolverhampton Wanderers made a decent comeback to the Championship in 2014/15 and ended the season in 7th position. But the club went on to end the next couple of seasons in the bottom-half. Nevertheless, Wolves made a remarkable recovery to win the Championship in 2017/18 to earn another promotion to the top-flight.
On making its return to the Premier League in 2018/19, Wolves showed remarkably consistent form to end the season with a highly impressive 7th place finish. It showed no 2nd season syndrome in the following campaign by finishing the Covid-19 interrupted 2019/20 season in 7th spot once again.
After a couple of exciting seasons, Wolves had to endure a difficult time in 2020/21 with the club dropping down to 13th position. It enjoyed a pretty solid campaign in Premier League season 2021/22 and even seemed in contention for a top-6 finish but a sharp drop in form towards the latter end meant it had to settle for 10th spot in the end.
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