West Bromwich Albion was formed in 1878 by workers from the local Salter's Spring Works. Prior to this the club were known as West Bromwich Strollers after a few enthusiasts made the 'stroll' to nearby Wednesbury in order to purchase a football.
Albion were one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888, the year in which they won the FA Cup for the first time.
English Champions & FA Cup Victory
In 1920 West Bromwich Albion were champions of England winning the First Division title for the only time in their history. Eleven years later Albion achieved the unique feat of being promoted from the Second Division and winning the FA Cup in the same season, beating Blues 2-1 in the Final.
Albion's original nickname was the 'Throstles', in reference to a throstle (Song Thrush) which was kept in the cage of a local pub which for a brief period was used as the team's 'changing room'. More recently, the Baggies, has been adopted as the most common nickname. The origin of this name is lost in time now, although there are several plausible explanations. Locally, they are referred to as simply The Albion.
West Brom enjoyed some great seasons in the 1950s and almost achieved the Double in 1953/53, by winning the FA Cup and finishing as Runners Up in the First Division after suffering from fixture congestion and huge losses to injuries. Great players from this era included Ronnie Allen, Ray Barlow and Bobby Robson.
West Bromwich Albion Football Heroes
A new Hawthorns hero joined the Baggies in the 1965, Jeff Astle. 'The King' would go on to score 174 goals for the Albion, including the winner in the 1968 FA Cup Final against Everton. Not only was Jeff a great goal scorer but also an amiable character with a wicked sense of humour. His death in 2002 came as a huge shock and his memory still lives on through the Astle gates at the junction of the Bummie Road End and the East Stand.
In 1978 Albion appointed the flamboyant Ron Atkinson as manager. Big Ron added breathtaking attacking flair to an already well organised side, resulting in many famous victories including that 5-3 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford, a 2-0 EUFA Cup win over Valencia and a quite remarkable 3-1 victory over Bristol City 'on ice'. Despite not winning any trophies, Albion were at the forefront of pioneering the introduction of black players into English football at a time of appalling racism. Famously the Albion at one stage had The Three Degrees in their team; a trio of brilliant black players Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson.
Exciting Promotion Races & Relegation Battles
After this it was pretty much downhill for West Brom. They were relegated to the Second Division and in 1991 ended up in the third flight for the first time ever. Another brief spell of total football followed the appointment of Ossie Ardiles and Albion were promoted back to the second flight. It was around this time that the trademark 'Boing Boing' celebration started.
It wasn't until 2002 that Gary Megson finally restored pride at the Hawthorns as he amazingly steered Albion to promotion to the Premier League at the expense of Wolves on the final day of the season.
The Premier League proved to be a tough place to survive and, after being relegated and then promoted again, former West Bromwich Albion legend Bryan Robson somehow managed to save Albion from relegation in 2005, after having been bottom of the League at Christmas and in bottom place on the final day too - The Great Escape!
West Bromwich Albion DVDs
Fortunately for us Albion fans there have been many highs and triumphs which
were captured on film. A great deal of these have subsequently been released on DVD
- such as great goals, wins over Wolves, promotion winning seasons, FA Cup victories
- and you'll find a rather good selection of Albion DVDs here.
Albion and The Liquidator
Back in October 1969 the Harry J Allstars released a classic reggae instrumental
single, The Liquidator. It was a hit and reached number 9 (Jeff's number) in the singles
chart. Soon after release it was played pre-match at The Hawthorns and, watching
from my seat in the Rainbow Stand, a group of supporters in the Brummie Road began
clapping (hands above their heads) in unison during the chorus. This then became a
regular pre-match ritual, and soon the words "West Brom" were added at the end of
the clapping sequence. By this time the majority of the Brummie Road had adopted
this performance, and it was quite a sight. During this era, my father (an Albion fan)
and his Wolves' supporting friend would watch Albion one week together and Wolves
the next; a surprisingly common practice in those days. And from this I was informed,
to my shock and mild annoyance, that Wolves had adopted Albion's song at Molineux
only weeks after its first airing at The Hawthorns. Less than 20 years later a certain
'no-hoper' by the name of Steve Bull also made the move from The Hawthorns to
Molineux, but that's another story...