THE players had a welcome surprise as they headed out for training at Cosumnes River College on Sunday – cloud cover and a more palatable training temperature.
They also had an interesting visitor – Adelaide-based Albion fan Chris Fitridge.
Chris, a 21-year-old accountant, got to watch the players in action for the first time after the team’s arrival in Sacramento coincided with his pre-planned trip to visit a Tottenham-supporting friend in San Jose.
Chris got the Baggies bug from his dad, Stephen, who decided to follow Albion after watching them on TV in the 70s. Television pictures were not what they are back then and he adopted the Black Country club after thinking they played in black-and-white stripes, like his favourite Aussie Rules Football team, Port Adelaide.
However, even after learning his error, he stuck with Albion.
During the season, the family – including Chris’ younger brother William, 17 – get up every Sunday at 1.30am to watch Baggies fixtures live on TV.
Sadly, Chris won’t get to see his first Albion match when Alan Irvine’s men play Sacramento Republic on Monday evening as he has to fly back Down Under to start a new job.
But he won’t have to wait too much longer to break his Baggies duck. He’s planning to visit England in December and take in the Barclays Premier League home games against Villa and Manchester City and away trip to QPR.
After training, Chris met Irvine and the players and departed with a memento of his first brush with the Baggies – a signed shirt.
PICS BY ADAM FRADGLEY OF AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY