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Chorley heroes of yesteryear hoping for another Wolves upset

Chorley v Derby County – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – Victory Park
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Over 34 years have passed since Charlie Cooper scored twice to sink Wolves in a famous FA Cup upset and marked the occasion by celebrating with his jubilant Chorley team-mates in the giant communal bath at Burnden Park.

Coronavirus protocols will restrict any repeat scenes in the socially-distanced showers if the National League North club pull off a repeat triumph over Nuno Espirito Santo’s men in their fourth-round clash at Victory Park on Friday.

The magnitude of Chorley’s 3-0 win in their first-round second replay still reverberates around the Lancashire town, where Cooper is still sporadically recognised upon his return. “I haven’t had to buy many drinks there,” he laughs.

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Wolves were at their nadir in 1986, freshly relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history and with much of Molineux in disrepair when the non-league club fashioned the 1-1 draw which forced the third meeting, sent by coin-toss back to Bolton.

Just four days before that game, Wolves unknowingly kicked off their long road to redemption when they completed the signing from Black Country rivals West Brom of a 21-year-old striker called Steve Bull.

But things would bottom out before they got better, largely courtesy of Cooper’s two goals which paved the way for the non-league side to surge to victory and seal a second-round clash with Lancashire neighbours Preston.

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Cooper told the PA news agency: “I scored twice in the replay and I suppose that makes you the hero, but it was a team effort.

“Wolves were in the doldrums and we went into the game feeling like we had a good chance. It certainly felt like a giant-killing, even though deep down we knew Wolves weren’t the team they should have been.

“We were a mediocre, mid-table side at the time so we were obviously ecstatic. It was a really big deal and I remember the old-fashioned dive into the big communal bath at Burnden Park to celebrate.”

Chorley goalkeeper Ian Senior, who now runs a successful kit supply business, has a scrapbook four inches thick with clippings of the night at Molineux when he held a Wolves strike-force featuring Bull’s future collaborator Andy Mutch at bay.

“The first game I didn’t have anything to do, but Molineux was undoubtedly the highlight of my career, recalled Senior.

“They were kids with a few elder statesman, and we gave them a right bullying. We went to Molineux thinking let’s just enjoy the occasion, but by the time of the third match we had the Preston game on the horizon, and we really believed we could beat them.”

Chorley v Derby County – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – Victory Park

Chorley sunk Derby to reach round four (Martin Rickett/PA)

Chorley’s latest crack at a very different Wolves will take place in front of the TV cameras at their own Victory Park, where those strict celebration protocols will be stretched to the limit if the underdogs manage to repeat their historic feat.

A 2-0 win over a youthful Derby side in round three handed the Magpies their second chance and the unlikely opportunity to finally eclipse the likes of Cooper and Senior in the club’s affections.

“When I go into the odd pub or restaurant there are sometimes still people who have the memories and want to talk about it,” added Cooper.

“This Wolves team is obviously nothing like the one we played in 1986, but it’s at our own ground this time and the pitch could be as heavy as hell, so you never know what might happen.”