There can be few stranger association football artefacts than the solid wood kicking block that resides in the home dressing room at Wolverhampton Wanderers' Molineux Football Ground.
For over fifty years, hundreds of football players, from those at international level down to reserve team substitutes, have had the chance to kick hell for leather out of the block before making the short journey to the green oasis of the football pitch. The pictures are courtesy of Stan Warner of Bloxwich, a life long Wolves supporter who can often be found wandering the corridors of Molineux with another Wolves stalwart, club historian Graham Hughes. As far as Graham knows the block originated just after the war, or thereabouts, during the heady days of success under Major Frank Buckley. As part of their pre-match ritual several players were in the habit of kicking the wall with their boots (heavy leather shin ticklers in those days), and creating holes in the plaster, an unsightly scene to say the least. Someone at the club decided to construct a heavy wooden block which the players could kick to their heart's content, without causing any structural damage, and the likes of Carl Cort, Kenny Miller and Michael Oakes in the current Wolves Coca Cola Championship side, are among those who no doubt continue this ancient tradition. (How often have you seen the goalie kick the bottom of the goal posts at the commencement of a football match?)
Aside from the current crop of players, there have no doubt been a host of legends who have taken out their frustrations on the poor, beleaguered kicking block, including the late great Billy Wright, Jimmy Mullen, Johnny Hancocks, Ron Flowers, Norman Deeley, and of course a more recent legend, Steve Bull, to name just a few. Who knows the number of footballing legends who kicked the wooden block in the away dressing room just across the corridor; so many famous internationals from visiting teams including famous names from the continent, too numerous to mention here? Graham told us the Wolves have loaned the other kicking block to the National Football Museum at Preston, so at present there is only one residing at Molineux, still a useful tool for the home team players to use to get keyed up for a game!