Former Wolves double promotion-winner Graham Hawkins will be back at Molineux tonight – at the forefront of a charity evening featuring a host of the club’s former stars.
Hawkins, whom up until Mick McCarthy was the most recent Wolves manager to mastermind automatic promotion into the top flight, was diagnosed three years ago with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of leukaemia.
Continuing his battle against the disease, Hawkins, a boyhood Wolves fan to boot, will be joined by fellow former Molineux manager Graham Turner and many players from the successful 1982-83 promotion winning squad on a night raising money for the battle against cancer.
“I’ve got what they call low grade Non-Hodgkin lymphoma which is a kind of leukaemia that doesn’t go away,” says Hawkins.
“I have scans regularly. My next one is in April, so things are going alright.
“I’ve had the chemotherapy. The specialist has said he doesn’t think it will go away, they normally don’t. He said hopefully it will keep away for five or six years and then have some more treatment.
“I’ve had stem cells frozen and they’re kept in Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital and that’s the next throw of the dice really which is chemotherapy and a blood transfusion which will give me five, six, seven or eight... however many more years.”
Hawkins remains remarkably philosophical about the illness - “I get up every morning and I’m just thankful my eyes are open,” he says.
Having been treated at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Hawkins and Turner have already staged one dinner in Shrewsbury and the proceeds from both will be split between hospitals in Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury.
Others hoping to be at Molineux tonight include John Richards, Geoff Palmer, Dave Wagstaffe, Mike Bailey, Wayne Clarke, Ron Flowers, Gerry Harris, John McAlle, Willie Carr, Keith Downing and Fred Kemp.
As a player, Hawkins was at Wolves when they earned promotion to the top division under Ronnie Allen in 1966/67.
More recently it is that 1982/83 campaign which prompts happy memories, and many of those involved are expected to roll back the memories tonight.
“It was like a dream come true,” says Hawkins, who worked for over a decade as the Football League’s Head of Player Development before retirement.
“We’d got good, professional players - John Burridge, Peter Daniels - they were a good backbone but particularly the likes of Andy Gray, John Richards, Kenny Hibbitt and Geoff Palmer.
“We only bought three players in during that period. We bought Alan Dodd (from Stoke City) but all the young lads did one hell of a job - Ian Cartwright, Micky Matthews, Paul Butler - he was one of those super subs with a bit of magic, then Billy Livingstone, Dale Rudge.
“So we got that nice balance and professional - it was just a good blend.”
There is also a certain symmetry to Hawkins’ dinner taking place on the back of a Wolves victory at Blackburn, a club where he also enjoyed promotion as a player.
It was a win at home to Blackburn, at the start of that successful 1982/83 season, which launched his managerial tenure.
Among the items aiming to raise money tonight is a Republic of Ireland shirt signed by Wolves' Irish contingent.