BACK when an afternoon at the football was a very different beast to today’s family-friendly affair, a visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers was not for the faint-hearted.
Those willing to chance the subway that led from behind the old South Bank terrace towards the station in the Seventies and Eighties did so very much at their own risk thanks to the local hooligans’ tendency to use the pitch black to ambush unsuspecting away supporters.
Nowadays, everything has changed. The huge terrace that from pitchside seemed to stretch almost all the way to the sky is long gone, while even the underpass that gave its name to the ‘Subway Army’ hooligans of yesteryear has had a makeover in old gold and looks almost welcoming.
Molineux has also become very much a happy hunting ground for Huddersfield Town, whose last seven visits stretching back to September 1999 have now yielded a phenomenal six wins.
The latest, and perhaps most impressive considering how well Nune Espirito Santo’s men have acclimatised to life in the Premier League, came yesterday courtesy of two goals from Aaron Mooy and a team performance so impressive that even the most one-eyed Wolves fan could not have complained at the result.
Be it the defensive solidity best epitomised by Christopher Schindler or the high-energy of a pressing game that saw Jonathan Hogg snap and snarl at anyone in old gold from the first to last minute, Huddersfield were irresistibly good.
The North Bank of this tastefully renovated old arena may be adorned by the slogan, ‘The Strength of the Wolf is in the Pack’ but the only team hunting in a pack yesterday was the one sporting blue and white.
Last season’s Championship title-winners were never given a moment’s rest by Hogg, Mooy and Philip Billing.
Only the planting of a blue and white flag into the centre circle at Molineux could have more signalled the intent of the Town trio to mark out the turf as their own.
Billing, in particular, was everywhere.
If Wolves so much as threatened to break, the Dane would simply glide across the pitch and whip the ball away with a perfectly-timed tackle.
Often, his anticipation would be such that a stretch of those telescopic legs would be enough to stop the hosts abruptly in their tracks.
The Dane was a big threat on the ball, too, and it was little surprise that he was involved in the opening goal.
His exchange of passes with Erik Durm was so inch-perfect that the German international did not have to break stride when reclaiming possession wide on the left.
Only the planting of a blue and white flag into the centre circle at Molineux could have more signalled the intent of the Town trio to mark out the turf as their own.Richard Sutcliffe
Durm had a quick glance, picked out Aaron Mooy with a pinpoint pass and the Australian did the rest with a side-footed finish beyond Rui Patricio.
Just six minutes had been played when Mooy not only opened his account for the season but also became Town’s joint top scorer.
The Australian moved clear at the top of the club’s scoring charts 13 minutes from time with an equally impressive finish.
This time a free-kick brought the opening, Steve Mounie having been hampered sufficiently by a mis-timed tackle from Willy Boly that Kevin Friend felt play should be pulled back when the ball was cleared by a covering defender with the Town striker still on his feet.
Mooy stepped up and curled an exquisite free-kick round the wall with sufficient pace that Patricio was unable to keep it out despite getting a hand to the ball.
Town’s second came in the wake of Wolves’ best spell of the game. Adama Traore’s introduction from the bench at the break had pepped the hosts up sufficiently to put David Wagner’s men under pressure.
Raul Jimenez came closest to drawing Wanderers level when meeting a Traore cross with a header that beat Jonas Lossl but not Billing, whose clearance came in the nick of time with replays showing all but a small fraction of the ball had crossed the line.
Ruben Neves also fired a free-kick into the Town defensive wall, while Jimenez made a total mess of a great opportunity when played onside by a prone Kongolo laying injured on the ground.
As worrying, however, as these moments were for the visitors, there could also be little doubt that Wagner’s men deserved this first away victory since February’s 2-1 triumph down the road at West Bromwich Albion.
After going ahead through Mooy’s early strike, Huddersfield had enough opportunities to effectively kill Wolves off before half-time. Steve Mounie, a constant thorn in the side of the home defence, headed straight at Patricio when well placed.
So did Terence Kongolo with a similar chance, while Matt Doherty deserved huge credit for getting in the way of Mounie’s goalbound header in first half stoppage time.
Wolves, having posed little of note attacking-wise in the opening 45 minutes, did improve after half-time but Huddersfield still carried a huge threat.
Billing went close with a curled effort that flashed just wide before Alex Pritchard, found by an outrageous back-heel from Mounie, had a shot blocked.
A couple of minutes later, Mooy had his second and Huddersfield were soaring from the foot of the Premier League to 14th place.
As the dejected home fans disappeared into a cold Midlands night, those among the 1,838 travelling fans heading towards the station via Molineux’s once notorious underpass did so with a spring in their step.