A statue of Sir Jack Hayward.
If there was anything that would unite Wolves fans it would be a lasting tribute to the man whose millions dragged the club from the brink of extinction to a jewel in Wolverhampton’s crown.
Sir Jack was Mr Wolverhampton. He invested in the city when no-one else would. He was born minutes away from the stadium and wrote off million pounds of debt when he handed the club to Steve Morgan for £10.
Yes £10, the same figure Wolves fans are being asked to contribute towards a statue of the great man behind the South Back – a fitting location within ear shot of the core support who sing his name every game.
But somehow a tribute of a man who is held in the heart of all those associated with our great club has turned into a farce.
The timing of the news, the cloudy information provided and a damage limitation meeting with the Express & Star is yet another own goal from Molineux officials.
So what happened?
- April 2015 – It was suggested in the Fans’ Parliament meeting that a permanent tribute for Sir Jack should be created with the idea of fans chipping in £10 – a nod to the fee Steve Morgan had paid for the club.
- September 2015 – Wolves owner Steve Morgan puts the club up for sale and steps down from the board. It follows claims he exchanged words with disgruntled fans before Wolves’ 1-1 draw with Preston at Deepdale.
- December 2015 – A number of members of the Fans’ Parliament are invited to a committee to decide plans for a permanent tribute for Sir Jack.
- January 2016 – Wolves announced they are to commission James Butler to create a statue of Sir Jack that would be erected at the rear of the South Bank. The article had no mention of fans contributing a fee for the sculpture.
- February 1 2016 – The transfer window shuts with Wolves failing to bring in a much needed striker following the sale of Benik Afobe to Bournemouth for £10 million. As a result Jez Moxey, Kevin Thelwell and Steve Morgan come under criticism from fans.
- February 9 2016 – Steve Morgan’s Redrow announces record profits.
- February 10 2016 – Wolves announce further plans of a fan and community led campaign to fund the £250,000 cost of the Sir Jack statue. The story is ran in the Express & Star with many fans furious with the scheme with those questioning why the club wasn’t footing the bill highlighting the Afobe sale and the Redrow profits. Later that day at the FP meeting the decision making behind the campaign is revealed to those who hadn’t sat in on the committee. Many were hearing the details for the first time.
- February 11 2016 – Express & Star runs a story reflecting fans reactions. ‘Shocking’ and ‘an absolute joke’ are among some of the comments aimed at the ‘tenner for Sir Jack’ campaign.
- February 15 2016 – Wolves issue a clarification on the Sir Jack statue after a meeting with Tim Spiers of the Express & Star and Sir Jack statue campaigners. The club apologises for confusion they state that it was always the intention to meet any shortfall in the money accumulated for the memorial.
It’s important to show a timeline of events as it is key behind why this campaign has come under criticism.
The sentiments behind it are to be commended and the idea alone really speaks to the true Wolves fan.
However the fans who gave birth to this scheme have simply been let down by poor planning and timing from Molineux officials.
Firstly, the original announcement in January gave no indication that fans would be contributing cash for the statue and gave the impression Wolves, even if they couldn’t find cash for a star striker, could at least find cash for a tribute to Sir Jack.
Secondly the timing of the announcement was totally misjudged. A week after failing to replace Benik Afobe, days after a bore draw with Reading (which pretty much ended our season) and hours after the company of the club’s owner announced record profits
The campaign launch could have waited. Had this been announced in a month’s time or even two or three months’ time would it had mattered? It is not a time sensitive issue. Sir Jack has already been acknowledged this season with the re-naming of the Jack Harris Stand. He also has a training ground, a restaurant and road named after him.
It’s a difficult time for many fans who, particularly at this time of year when money is tight, are watching the pennies more than ever. To pay to see your underfunded football team underperform week-in-week-out and have your owner’s company (yes we know it is separate to Wolves) announce record profits then be asked to cough up for a statue of your club’s saviour is a cheek.
Sir Jack was a modest man and will always be remembered at Molineux but I fear that a campaign that was good hearted (and remember led by fellow fans) will suffer as a result of another Molineux shambles. Many fans may let pride get in the way of a generous gesture and final thanks for the great man but it should never have come down to this – to think our fans and club falling out over the statue of Sir Jack, what a joke.
Once again the club has to mend broken bridges and if anything it rather sums up Wolves’ season – it shouldn’t have gone wrong, the mess could have been prevented and the fans are left to pay the price.
By Adam Thompson