Remembering Emlyn Hughes: The Epitome of the Liverpool-Wolves relationship


It's five years since Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers last met in a competitive fixture, but the two teams clashed regularly in the 1970s and 1990s. Liverpool won 3-0 in 2012 at Molineux, as they did 12 months earlier when Kenny Dalglish managed Liverpool for the first time in 20 years. 

Unfortunately, derogatory comments about assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis made by TV presenter Richard Keys and former Wolves forward Andy Gray on Sky Sports before that encounter overshadowed King Kenny’s return.

Perhaps the most memorable game between the clubs happened in 1976, when the official match-day programme described it as 'The Great First Division Drama', with both teams needing a win at opposite ends of the table. 

Former Liverpool striker David Fairclough said: "There were amazing scenes when we arrived and the ground was full of our fans by 6pm.

"As a substitute, I watched the game unfold as Steve Kindon gave Wolves an early lead, flying past Hughes to shoot on Ray Clemence's left side."

Fairclough was nicknamed ‘Supersub’ for moments such as these. He replaced Jimmy Case with half-an-hour left on the clock and helped change the game, as Liverpool scored three goals in the final 15 minutes to claim the title. 

"The night was extraordinary, I remember it vividly from leaving the hotel to the drive up a packed M6 motorway full of Scousers celebrating," added Fairclough. 

"It’s one of the highlight Liverpool games of that era which doesn't feature enough I think in people's memories as we achieved so much in those times." 

Emlyn Hughes, affectionately known as 'Crazy Horse', captained the team. It was his second of four championships with the Reds and the first of six league titles won by Bob Paisley along with three European Cups. 

Hughes was a versatile player, who predominantly played as a combative midfielder in his early career before becoming more reserved as a centre-back in his late 20s. 

"Emlyn was an incredible competitor, very driven and as a young player was one of my biggest heroes, so coming into the team with him as captain was very special," admits his former teammate and now LFCTV pundit.

"He was a massive character around the club, quite loud and always in the thick of the conversations. One you very much looked up to and aimed to match his high standards." 

Hughes left Merseyside for Wolves in 1979, where he skippered them to League Cup success (ironically through a Gray goal in the final). He lasted two seasons under John Barnwell before moving to Rotherham United as player-manager. 

At international level, Hughes won 62 caps, one of five players to represent England in three separate decades. However, he unfortunately became the most capped player never to feature in a major tournament. 

He continued to achieve throughout his life, as a media personality and even with his own computer game.

Hughes died in 2004 from a brain tumour, at the age of just 57. In the last 20 years, numerous players have appeared for both clubs, with Paul Ince and Robbie Keane the most notable.

Wolves' Conor Coady grew up at Liverpool and, like Hughes, his adaptability has seen him used in midfield and defence, but most recently at right-back with Paul Lambert in charge.

"The greatest influence on my career has been my Dad, I don't think he has missed a game from when I was at Liverpool until now," Coady told me last year.

His father will be at Anfield on Saturday, a now rare occasion for him as it's difficult to observe Jurgen Klopp's men on a weekend as he's busy watching Conor and youngest son Harrison, who plays for Everton's U18s.

Tomorrow, Coady senior will be sitting in the Kop once more, looking out onto the pitch where Hughes once dominated.