Our Favourite Players - Final List
Update, December 2005
My grateful thanks to the dozens of you who’ve helped out with their assorted and sometimes eclectic memories of some of the players listed. Remember the list is not necessarily Albion’s best players; these 20 are simply all crowd favourites, spanning the full history of the club.
Thus far, the chapters on Tommy Magee, Harold Bache, Bob Taylor, Ronnie Allen and John Osborne are finished. Billy Bassett and Jesse Pennington are not far from completion. Once the Chapters on these venerable Baggies are concluded, I’ll be concentrating once more on some of the more recent names.
I’m still interested in more supporters memories, particularly why they considered a particular player to be their favourite. It’s not just about their goalscoring, that’s too simplistic and obvious. What else did they contribute? Was it their charisma, their generosity, charity fund raising, the odd way their third forefinger stuck out for midweek games? Anything that you think might be of interest to a wider audience, I would be most grateful to receive. Please email email@example.com or drop me a line. Naturally all contributions that are used will be credited in the book. (Publication date 23 September 2006)
- Simon Wright
In the meantime, I thought this selection of quotes, culled from many hours work in local libraries, might be of interest.
The style of language is different, so are the names but the game’s the same!
Poor form and poor weather means poor gates
“Even in favourable weather, it takes a lot of enthusiasm and loyalty to induce people to go and stand an hour and a half to see their favourites persistently beaten but the chance of getting a respectable gate during the severe weather to witness this melancholy succession of defeats is even more remote.”
- West Bromwich Free Press Jan 1905
Team Spirit is vital
The Chairman has impressed upon the men the importance of having no grievances against each other, and has urged them when they fancy they have cause to complain to do so at once instead of allowing a bad feeling to be engendered and increased.”
- West Bromwich Free Press, Feb 1906
Get your marking right!
“It is useless for a wing half back or the man behind him to try to stop two opposing forwards by his unaided exertions. They must know which player they must devote their special attention to.”
- Sports Argus September 1905
We don’t want you lot here...
“Many of the football matches in this country suffer in public estimation by the conduct of the crowd, and what is needed is a larger infusion among the spectators of the better, and more educated classes of the people. The Albion directors, apparently realising this, have been trying to secure the co-operation of the members of the Town Council to give tone to their matches by their attendance and I am glad to hear that their efforts have been crowned with some degree of success.“
- Leader column in West Bromwich Free Press Oct 27 1905
The Battle of Bramall Lane...
(WBA v Chelsea) “Both sides were to blame for the bunch of indiscretions that caused the game to be stopped at intervals and to give the trainer an opportunity of showing his sprinting skills across the pitch. A blow on the face injured Foulke. Kay was disabled and off the field for some minutes, and Haywood had to be carried off groaning and writhing, much to the distress of many notable personalities in the stand, including Lord and Lady Lewishaw.
Foulke bore many traces of the conflict but he jocularly remarked that he paid the penalty of greatness and the pain of a bruised nose and loosened teeth would, he said, help him to remember an old clubmate in Adam Haywood.“
- The Morning Leader, describing Chelsea’s first ever visit to the Hawthorns in Feb 1905
The only way to get out of the Second tier (allegedly)
“The Albion’s style of football is not one to enthuse over, and they are by no means the high-class team that their record would convey, but they win matches and what team wants more.”
- The Morning Leader again, same date
Grimsby is rarely warm…
“Albion lost 3-2 to the Fishermen, hampered by strong winds in the first half and a snowstorm in the second.”
- West Brom Free Press 1905
In 1907, Bruce Rankin, one of the Albion’s best attackers at the time, was sent home in disgrace from a training break in Rhyl for “insubordination.” Within days, he was transferred to Manchester City.
There’s a big game coming up so let’s cash in...
(FAC Quarter Final Home to Notts County) “The reason for the increase in admission to the centre stand is because there has been such a rush for reserved seats, and rather than reserve the whole stand the directors have decided to increase the price in order to give the whole of the supporters a chance of seeing the match.”
- March 1907. (No, I didn’t understand it either!)
No enthusiasm to go to Chelsea
“Only 14 Albion supporters were on the excursion train on the GWR.”
- West Brom Free Press Jan 1907
The FA choosing unlikely venues for FA Cup Semi Finals
(In 1907, the FA chose Bolton to host the last four game between Albion and Everton) “Fancy asking Albionites to pay 5 shillings and 9d (29p) for a railway journey, while the followers of Everton had only a short journey, costing a little over a shilling. Is that what the Association called fairness?”
- Midlands Chronicle March 1907. (Given that WBA season tickets started at 6 shillings (30p), one might argue that the modern equivalent of that rail fare was almost £400!)
For the opening match of the 1907-08 season v WBA, the Wolves directors announced the kick-off time as 5.45pm but then kicked off at 5.30pm. Something else didn’t change – Albion won.
Ex Albion men breaking the law
In September 1903, ex-Albion player William Poynton (22) was charged with stealing fifteen fowl to the value of £3 from Alfred Cattell of Hill Top. The fowl were found in Poynton’s bedroom. The footballer was sentenced to 3 months in gaol with hard labour. When Poynton also admitted to stealing a piece of beef worth 9.5d (4p) from William Turner, also from Hill Top, he was sentenced to another three months hard labour on top.
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