Behind the scenes at the Baggies
AND so it's that time of the week again. No, not pay day.
It must be BAGGIE SHORTS day. Rejoice.
Come on in, pull up a chair and let's have that chat...
Albion-Villa games are always a time of stress in the Tony Brown household given that the great man's son, Paul, now works on the dark side.
On the trip to Hull last week, Tony was telling us of how he coped with that moment that every parent dreads - when their son says he wants to be a Villa fan.
His Holiness blames peer pressure at school, given that Paul was a in a class of Villa fans. But he was having none of it, tearing down Tony Daley posters from Paul's room as quickly as the boy could put them up.
One Christmas, Paul had asked Santa for a Villa kit. Clearly dad had been waiting by the side of the chimney all night to ambush him, because come morning it turned out that Father Christmas has deposited an Albion shirt at that the foot of the tree.
"He was ever so disappointed" reported Tony, with barely a hint of regret...
We've all been there: played Football Manager and assumed soccer is merely about formations, tactics and spending as much of somebody else's money as possible.
But imagine being an actual player in Football Manager.
It's an honour our media colleague and former Albion academy product Gez Mulholland had when he was included as one of the players on Football Manager 12.
So was he any good?
His vital statistics make for interesting reading. Teamwork earns him a mark of 16 out of 20, with work-rate just below on 14. We can vouch for both.
Natural fitness, along with pace and acceleration (all rated at 12) are not far behind. Hmm...we're not so sure.
But this is where it all goes wrong. Finishing is just 1, while aggression is graded at 4 - utter nonsense if you've ever seen young Gez tuck into his lunch, where marks closer to 20 might be more appropriate. And there we were thinking Football Manager was true to life. Seemingly not.
In fact, a quick search through a popular search engine tells us that in the realms of Football Manager fantasy, young Mulholland was signed by one 'manager' for Northern Irish side Ballyclare.
BAGGIE SHORTS is pleased to announce that in reality Gez remains very much an integral part of our own squad here.
We've never had it so good.
Consider this, young Albion fans: There was a horrible time in our existence where our only forms of entertainment came in the form of a black-and-white TV. No Sky, no red button and, mercifully, no X-Factor.
For those of you under the age of 35, you won’t be aware that this was a dark era when you had the leave the comfort of your armchair to change channels.
And so it was that in deepest Adelaide, Australia, a teenager called Stephen Fitridge sat down to watch The Big Match, presented by Brian Moore.
Being a huge fan of AFL side Port Adelaide - nicknamed the Magpies - Stephen was clearly impressed with the footballing delights being served up on his trust monochrome TV set, not least the side wearing 'black-and-white' stripes, with their star players Cyrille Regis and Laurie Cunningham.
Such was the impression made on this young fan that when he finally got around to upgrading his TV, and realising that navy blue was the new 'black', he realised the slight change of colour really didn't matter. Sorry, Newcastle and Notts County - but this man wasn't for turning.
Stephen had yet to visit The Hawthorns. Until now.
Some four decades on since becoming seduced by Albion, Stephen, along with his sons and fellow Albion devotees William and Christopher, will watch their club for the first time in Saturday's game against Villa.
But first came a visit to the club shop and tours of the stadium and training ground - with players stopping by to have their photos taken.
Stephen told us: "I think we're going to have to leave a lot of our luggage. There are some prints I had an eye on and a mat which will only fit in the bags if I leave some stuff out. But I guess it's not often you visit the club shop very often is it…?”
Enjoy the game lads.
Our media man Ian Skidmore has joined other Albion delegates at the launch of the Barclays Premier League Live event in India.
As you might expect, life in Mumbai is a little bit different to what you get in the midlands.
Our crew needed to get a taxi from their hotel to the Gateway of India monument and were informed by the friendly cabbie that he would be happy to drop them off outside his friend's shop...provided they popped in to see him.
Several purchases later, our contingent were able to continue on the next leg of the journey.
wba.co.uk will be bringing you the latest news from India during the Barclays Premier League Live event.
Our senior players are used to facing a barrage of media questions, especially in the build-up to a derby clash.
But nothing could have prepared them for the grilling they got from 15-year-old patient Moin Younis at Birmingham Children's Hospital.
Moin left our lads in no doubt what his views were ahead of the Albion v Villa encounter.
Territory was already marked by Moin's choice of dressing gown - claret, blue and with a Villa badge on display.
And then he began picking apart each player, one-by-one - all in a good natured way, of course.
Turning to Ben Foster: "Guzan or Foster...we all know who's got that one, don't we Ben…?" said Moin cheekily.
And there was plenty more ribbing from there.
You can check out a video of when 'Joleon met Moin...' by clicking here
Not only was Tuesday's visit a humbling experience for Foster, Chris Brunt, Joleon Lescott, Gareth McAuley and Craig Gardner, but it proved to be one of the most enjoyable afternoons they could have asked for.
We would like to thank all the staff and patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for making us feel so welcome.
See you all next time! 'boing-boing'