It’s not often you’ll find us in the position that you, er, find us right now. The whole purpose of this ‘Remember Them’ series is, after all, to look back (In anger? Ed.) at all those clubs we’ve played over the years. Some lovely, some not so; those we’ve taken on more times than we care to remember, and those we’d happily spend more time with. So, what’s the craic this time? Well, we are talking about another side who to ‘boing boing’. And the problem? We’ve never actually met properly. Eyes down, look in folks; introducing West Bromwich Albion…
West Bromwich Albion: Who Are They?
Now, before we go through the ins and outs about why we’re even bothering, a little history lesson. The club took flight a massive 139 years ago, taking the quite superb name West Bromwich Strollers at first. A historic club by any measure, the Baggies’ were a founder member of the Football League in 1888; one of just 12 with that prestigious honour. By 1888, “Albion” had already come into parlance; the name adopted in 1880. And it’s fair to say the Hawthorns-based outfit have been no stranger to success over the years.
The 1953-4 season, for example, is one that stands out. By this time, the Baggies had already been champions of England (1920) and three-time FA Cup winners, not to mention coming runners-up in the FA Cup five more times. In 1954, the Baggies came very close to becoming the first side in the 20th century to win the Double; registering a fifth FA Cup title, while finishing an agonising four points behind champions (and rivals) Wolves. Another FA Cup came in 1967, as well as the UEFA Cup last eight in 1979; edged out by Red Star Belgrade.
Then, things went a little downhill. A decade after making the semi-finals of both domestic cups in 1982, the club were in Division Three. It was, admittedly, a one-year stay; their only year outside the top two divisions of English football ever. We think. After the formation of the Premier League in 1992, the Baggies hovered around mid-table in the second tier for nine years. Then, in 2002, the long-awaited breakthrough. A second-place finish, three points above Wolves, saw them back in the top tier for the first time since 1986.
West Bromwich Albion: Us And Them…
Now, this milestone moment neatly brings us into the equation. Since BoroGuide launched, we have provided profiles for clubs we play in friendlies – even if we don’t record friendlies in the list of results and what not. The reason is that you can never rule out who you might meet in a cup, so the work is already done. And that’s what we did in our first summer as a thing. West Bromwich Albion came to the esteemed home of the 2001-2 FA Trophy runners-up (that’s us by the way) in preparation for their first crack at the Premier League.
The Baggies put out a team full of household names for our pre-season showdown. Oh yes, back on a ground where he found the going very pleasant during his Hayes days was Jason Roberts for a start. There was also Andy Johnson and Daniele Dichio; Ronnie Wallwork on the bench too. Not that it was much of a pointer for how the first half of our campaign under Wayne Turner would go, but our guests eased to a four-goal win. We held them at 0-0 for 38 minutes; the score given a more impressive sheen with two further late strikes.
West Bromwich Albion: And Then What?
West Brom’s stay in the Premier League was a short-lived one; one season in fact. The Baggies made a swift return in ’04, this time for two seasons. Then there was a two-year stint back in the Championship, followed by a one-season cameo back in the top flight. Not until promotion in 2010 did the Baggies make firm roots in the Premier League. You can argue things got too close to call in 2014, but they are – more often than not – a solid performer. Still to replicate their best finish of 8th in 2013, last season’s 10th is nothing to be sniffed at.
West Bromwich Albion: Boro’s Record
P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0 – League Points: 0, Cup Meetings: 0, Win Rate: 0%
• BoroGuide’s West Bromwich Albion club profile – for old time’s sake…