Raúl Jiménez has certainly made an impact at Molineux since his arrival at Molineux for the 2018/19 season. Some fans are already beginning to ask the question “Is he the greatest striker the Wolves have ever had?”
My initial reaction to that question would be it is probably too early to tell. However, he has made an impressive start to his career at Molineux. So much so, not making his loan deal permanent over the summer transfer window would be seen as a massive failure in the eyes of supporters.
How does Raúl Jiménez rank when compared to other great strikers that have worn the famous Old Gold shirt?
The list of possible contenders for the “Greatest Striker” title has the potential to run over many pages. Making the final decision almost impossible to determine.
To make this task a little simpler, I have selected who I believe to be the key contenders. It is not meant to be a definitive list, and as with all of the “Best Of” lists, it is completely subjective.
Removing any bias of preference or personal prejudice I have listed to contenders by era. My shortlist is:
Broadbent made he debut for the Wolves in 1951. he arrived from Brentford having scored 2 goals in 16 appearances. Between 1951 and 1965 he went on the make 452 appearances scoring 127 goals. He won 7 full England caps from ’58-60.
Peter was held in high esteem by George Best, who is his autobiography comments that Broadbent was the payer he admired the most. Sir Alex Ferguson also stated that whilst he was growing up in Scotland, Broadbent was his favourite player.
He passed away on the 1st of October 2013 having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for many years. Brain Glanville, The Guardian penned a wonderful obituary.
Broadbent was a key member of the Stan Cullis championship winning teams of 53/54, 57/58 and 58/59. He was also part of the 1960 cup winning side.
I wasn’t very old when Peter was transferred to Shrewsbury in January 1965. Unfortunately (for me) I have no living memories of Peter gracing the hallowed turf of Molineux, however, the legendary stories of that Cullis team have been retold many times from older relatives and supporters.
Knowles will always be remembered for being the guy who gave up his football career for God. Yes, it was a momentous occasion, yet it probably clouds what a great footballer he was.
As Broadbent was coming to the end of his tenure at Molineux, Knowles was signed in 1962, as a 17-year-old, on a six-year contract.
He made his debut early in the 63/64 season. The following year the club were relegated to the old second division, where they would stay for a couple of seasons. During his 2nd season in the second division, it was very clear that Knowles was something very special. In the season following relegation, Knowles suffered his first serious injury. He missed a number of games, but still managed to bag 19 goals.
With Cullis being replaced by Ronnie Allen, Peter requested to leave Molineux, however, his request was emphatically turned down.
On the clubs return to the first division he again suffered another serious injury, limiting his to 21 appearances with 8 goals.
During the summers of 67 and 69, under a FIFA initiative, Knowles played in the US to increase the awareness of “soccer”.
The 1967/68 season also saw the arrival of Derek Dougan. A season where we narrowly missed relegation and Knowles submitted yet another request to leave. Knowles managed 17 goals during the season, only uttered by Dougan.
The club finished 16th the following season. Knowles again being the second highest scorer with 11 goals. Peter went back to the US to play for Kansas City Spurs scoring 5 goals in just 8 appearances.
On his return from the US, Knowles dropped the bombshell that would turn his Wolves career on its head. Whilst in Kansas he became a Jehovah’s Witness. He commented that he had lost his ambition for football. Knowles managed just 8 games in the 69/70 season before hanging up his boots.
In a rare interview with Match of the Day, Peter told his own story. The video also includes some great footage showing what a talent he was.
His contract with the club wasn’t officially terminated until 1982. Everyone connected to the club hoped (and possibly prayed) that Knowles would return to the game and grace the green grass of Molineux again.
Over the “20 years” Knowles was on the book at the club he made 174 appearances scoring a total of 61 goals
Dougan arrived at Molineux in March 1967, on a £50,000 transfer from Leicester City. The Wolves were his 7th club since he made his debut for Distillery, Belfast in 1953. During his early years, he spent time at Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Peterborough United before playing 68 games for Leicester City.
His home debut gave a clear sign of what was to come has he bagged a hat-trick against Hull City. He finished his first season with 9 goals in 11 games.
Despite the club selling Dougan’s main strike partner, Ernie Hunt, to Everton in September 1967, he still managed to score 17 goals in 40 starts. The club finished in 17th place and retained its place in the top division.
Billy McGarry became the Wolves manager in November ’68. Dougan later commented that the seven years he played under McGarry were the most traumatic of his life.
The team got off to a flyer in the 69/70 season, winning 7 of the first 8 games. As previously mentioned the 8th game was to be the last that Peter Knowles ever played in. Dougan subsequently suffered only managing 10 goals in 33 games. Injuries didn’t help. Neither did a lengthy 5-week suspension for verbally abusing a lineman in the home game against Everton.
1970/71 saw the Wolves finish a credible 4th. “The Doog” bagged 12 goals from 25 league starts. McGarry had been rotating Hugh Curran and Bobby Gould with Dougan throughout the whole season. this explains why he only managed 25 starts for the season.
In the 71/72 season, the Dougan Richards partnership began to flourish. Derek “Squeak” Parkin described their striking partnership and “the best in Europe”.
Goals continued to flow with 19 in the 72/73 campaign, with another 15 the following season.
Dougan suffered from ongoing back injuries in the 74-75 campaign, only being able to start in 6 games during the season. It was with no surprise he announced his retirement in 1975.
During his Wolves career, “The Doog” made 323 appearances scoring 123 goals.
Richards signed for the Wolves as an 18-year-old in the summer of ’69. He made is debut in the 3-3 draw at the Hawthorns in February 1970. His first goal for the club arrived in the September of the same year against Huddersfield Town.
During the 71/72 season “King John” was fast becoming a cult hero at the Molineux. He managed 13 goals that season. The following season he amasses an incredible 36 goals, including the winning goal in the League Cup final against Manchester City.
His hot streak continued for six of the next seven seasons as he continued to be the leading goal scorer for the club.
At the time of his retirement, he was the Club’s all-time leading scorer with 194 goals in 144 appearances. His 24 goals in the FA Cup still remain a club record today.
Despite his magnificent goalscoring records, Richards only ever won 1 England cap in 1973. Competition for places was fierce with Kevin Keegan, Martin Chivers and Allan Clarke all plying their trade at the same time. Many Wolves fans claimed a press and FA bias against the West Midlands club as being the real reason why King John was limited to his single cap.
Bull famously arrived at Molineux along with Andy Thompson from West Brom for a combined fee of £65,000 during November 1986.
His first goal for the club arrived on the 2nd December of the same year, during a Freight Rover Trophy tie at Ninian Park. Wolves coming out on top 1-0.
Bully’s goalscoring records are nothing short of sensational. 306 goals in total. 250 in the football league. There were 18 hat-tricks during the course of his career. During the 87/88 season, Bull hit the back of the net 52 times to become the clubs highest scorer in a single season.
Proving his goalscoring run was no fluke, Bully netted a further 50 times in the 88/89 season. the club gained a second successive promotion to the old second division.
His first 100 goals came in a shade over 2 years at the club. It took just over 5 years for him to score 195 goals and break John Richards all-time record for the club.
During his first season of second division football, in the 89/90 season Bull sensational scored 4 times away at Newcastle on New Years Day. Given the extraordinary lengths that many fans had gone to get the game, it was nothing more than they deserved.
Bully attracted a lot of attention from several first division and then premier league teams. Thankfully Bully stayed loyal to the Club. Graham Taylor did agree to sell Bull to Coventry City. The fans were less than impressed. So much so, the Express & Star ran a campaign to keep him at Molineux. Bull decided to pull out of the deal and to stay at WV1.
In his final 2 seasons, Bully suffered from terrible knee injuries, which limited the number of appearances made. His final goal came on the 26th September 1998 against Bury. His last appearance was on the last day of the 98/99 season. Bully announced his retirement in the July of the same year, admitting defeat in his battle to overcome his ongoing knee injury.
Keane’s tenure at Wolves only lasted 73 appearances before he was sold to Coventry City in 1999. During his short stay, he managed 24 goals.
He certainly made an impact on his debut during the netting twice as a 17-year-old against Norwich City at the start of the 97/98 season.
Keane was the clubs top scorer in the 98/99 season with a total of 16 goals.
Cash was in short supply at the Molineux at the beginning go the 99/00 season. John Richards, who was the managing director at the time, was reluctant to see the young star. Coventry tabled a bid of £6,000,000 which was a British record for a teenager at the time. Within a couple of weeks of the new season starting Keane made his way across the Midlands to join Coventry and end his time at Wolves.
The first time many Wolves fans had heard of, let alone watched Raúl Jiménez play was during the 2018 world cup. He made 2 substitute appearance during the tournament but failed to hit the back of the net in either of them.
Social media was running hot, as many fans believed that Uncle Jorge was going to deliver that magical 20 goals a season striker that half the premier league were looking out for. There was an air of palpable disappoint when Jiménez turned out to be the man charged with leading the attack back in the Premier League.
Jiménez made his debut on the opening day of the season has the Molineux faith sitting up and taking notice. His ball control and link up play were excellent. He capped off an impressive display by scoring the equalising goal to secure a point against Everton.
His impressive opening day display has continued with his endless and unselfish running off the ball a feature of his (and the teams) style of play. The blossoming partnership with Jota has seen the Mexican net a total of 11 times in just 29 appearances. He has also clocked up an impressive 6 assists.
Answering the question
So is Raúl Jiménez the greatest Wolves striker? Right now the answer has to be no. However, the foundations of cult status amongst the Wolves fans have certainly been built. Many have suggested that regardless of how much the final transfer fee is to secure his services full time, the Club simply have to sign him.
His style of play blends so well with Nuno’s philosophies. The partnership that is developing with Jota is only going to get better as time goes by. The Gold and Black future certainly looks bright for Raúl.
If he continues to improve and score goals, then he may well become the greatest striker we have ever had. Only time will tell at this point.
The best striker is?
So if it’s not Jiménez, who is the best striker we have ever had? I sense it’s a question that has no definitive answer. The number of fans who are still alive having had the pleasure of seeing Broadbent and Knowles grace the hallowed turf of Molineux are getting less and less.
Dougan and Richards will always be remembered for their exploits of the late 6o’s and early ’70s. Beating Man City in the League Cup final in 1974 delivered the clubs first piece of silverware for 14 years. An achievement that will live long in the memories of those old enough to remember that magical day.
The Bully era was understandably recorded as incredible. The scoring prowess was second to none. Add to that his loyalty to the club (and its fans) was fantastic. It is never easy when comparing players who had their stand out years in different eras. The game has evolved tremendously from the time that Peter Broadbent was pulling on the famous old gold shirt. Just as it is now different between Bull and Jiménez.
We all have our favourite memories of players, and our opinions are based on what we experienced first hand. I loved watched Dougan and Richards play together. It was no different when Bully was rampaging his way to the top of the scoring records. I haven’t had the pleasure of watching Raúl play “in the flesh” but from what I see week in week out on the TV he has the ability to capture the hearts of this current generation of Wolves fans.
The Club has been blessed with some incredible strikers. Each has contributed significantly to the history of our great team. All woven into the fabric that makes Wolverhampton Wanderers the club it is today. For that, I am eternally grateful.