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Bully's Special Sur-Prize!

PUBLISHED

11:56 21st October 2013

Legend shocks loyal fan

 

If you really MUST miss a Wolves home game for the first time in over 37 years, what you need is a good excuse and something to soften the blow.

Ipswich-based super-fan Peter Abbott certainly had both on Saturday as he came to terms with being cast in the totally alien role of Molineux match-day absentee.

No-one would begrudge him not being here for our game against Coventry City, given the family calling that came with his step-daughter Sarah Butler's wedding to Jono Liddell on the same afternoon.

But what better to lift him on what he admitted was an 'emotional' evening than the sight of Steve Bull turning up at the function among the guests?

It wasn't quite a case of 'get me to the church on time' for Wolves' all-time leading scorer because the civil ceremony took place at Haughley Park, a 17th century barn near Stowmarket in East Anglia. But after Football League sponsors Sky Bet got in touch with Wolves on Friday, a series of phone calls saw the plan come together and Bully on his way to the happy occasion in time for drinks and an appearance on the celebratory photos.

They saw to it that he even handed over a shirt signed by Kenny Jackett's team and Saturday's match-day programme - autographed by himself.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw Bully in the room," Peter said today. "It had been a wonderful day and anyone who knows me realises what a big hero he is to me, so that made it even more special.

"I was amazed Sarah and Jono kept it secret from me. It could easily have slipped out. The club wanted to know the postcode of the venue but I just thought they were going to send something for the bride and groom.

"The first thing Bully said when he saw me was that he didn't know how I managed that journey so often, even just for home games.

"He was fantastic with everyone, full of life, and I'm so grateful to Wolves and Sky Bet for organising his appearance. Jono is a Newcastle fan and was heard to say it was a pity it couldn't have been Alan Shearer, so I had to put him right on that one!

"Having Bully there, plus all the publicity before and after, just added to the fun of the whole weekend.

"I was kept in touch with events at Molineux by texts from friends. The signal wasn't the best but I received the goal flashes pretty quickly and also the final score. Then I had a quiet ten minutes on my own afterwards to reflect. It was a bit emotional and my wife came over for a word."

Peter's loyalty - all the more astonishing as he is originally from East London and lived in Essex before moving to Ipswich in recent years - is best illustrated by the fact that he saw much, much more than every one of the 561 League and cup matches Bully played for Wolves during his ever-present Molineux run.

In fact, the 56-year-old started on the extraordinary sequence more  than ten years before the legend's debut here and extended it by over 13 years after his enforced retirement.

The defeat against Tottenham in March, 1976, had been the last Wolves game he had missed here and he has also been at every Wolves game - and numerous before that - since a train delay saw him shunted on to the sidelines while en route to Blackburn in 1985.

He has been at about 1,900 Wolves games since 1976, so no wonder Sky Bet Head of Sponsorship Edwin Martin said: “We thought he’d appreciate a nod from Steve Bull to acknowledge what a great fan he is.”

It probably hasn't escaped the notice of Wolves supporters that the story of Peter's pre-match anguish travelled far and wide - in the press, on national and local radio and even on television. The cyberspace coverage included a tweeted photo of his London Wolves friends marking his absence in suitable fashion on the train on Saturday, signalling politely that they are now one game ahead of Peter!

All is about to return to normal, though. While the happy couple are now in the Maldives on honeymoon, Peter has an even more intoxicating location on his mind. He's heading for Molineux for tomorrow night's game against Oldham Athletic at the start of another long run of successive match-day appearances.

*The happy couple are pictured with Peter and Bully.  Picture: Lauren Sanders

 

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