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Bomber's Baggie Shorts 04.11.14

4 November 2014

Behind the scenes at the Baggies

It's that eagerly-anticipated time of the week when we bring you BAGGIE SHORTS.....although this week's offering is no normal sideways-look behind the scenes at all things Albion.

Roll up and give a warm welcome to a special edition of everyone's favourite feature - BOMBER'S BAGGIE SHORTS.

As we celebrate 'Bomber Week' - why not make a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy some of our favourite unheard tales when it comes to the one, the only, Tony Brown. 

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His holiness is a well-travelled man. Over the years he has taken in China, the USA, Romania, Uruguay and all points in between. 

And yet the great man had never set foot on the London Underground until a few years ago, on Bonfire Night 2005. It proved a day to remember.

We were heading for a game at West Ham and, parking being what it is around the Boleyn Ground, we parked up at Upminster and got the Tube in for the last leg.

We had arranged to meet seasoned photographer and short trousered devotee Laurie Rampling at Upminster but for reasons which have been long since lost in the mists of time, he was late in arriving.

Given we needed to get to the ground, we headed for the platform and called the boy Rampling to tell him to join us there. 

Laurie said he'd be there in a minute and would catch us on the train. Having heard it all before, we carried on anyway.

The train arrived and on we got, when suddenly we heard the thunder of footsteps barrelling down the platform. 

As the doors closed the intrepid photographer gets through them. He is muttering to himself, sweating profusely and laden down with a rucksack and a huge case.
 
Looking up, he spies us in the corner of the carriage.

Not naturally a quiet man, always enthusiastic, he roars over "Bomber!"

Oddly, the rest of the carriage fell deathly silent, people fell to their knees, prayers were offered.

Tony Brown has never troubled an Oyster card since.

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The Football Association's Challenge Cup is a fine old trophy, perhaps the single most beautiful in all sport. 

God alone knows how it survived being in our care for 12 months after we won it in 1968. Quite possibly that's why we haven't been allowed to win it again.

Back in those carefree days, players were able to pick up the cup after a day at the coal face at Spring Road and take it wherever they wanted. 

Skipper Graham Williams had it one night and put it under his bed for safekeeping, with his infant son then using it in the way that large pots placed under a bed have been used since time immemorial - picture that next time you see somebody drinking Champagne out of it.

Tony also took possession of the cup on occasion, including taking it back home to Manchester to show his parents. 

With a day off to follow, his dad asked him if he could take it into work the following morning to show his mates. Tony naturally complied.

And so it was that at 6am one morning in late 1968, you would have seen a Lambretta chugging along the East Lancs Road. With the FA Cup strapped to the back of it.

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Bravest fan of Bomber week? Step forward Matthew Punnett 

You may recall that we threw out an invitation to seriously test Albion devotees a few weeks ago – would any of you dare to recreate the great man’s iconic end-of-Seventies perm?

It was the de rigeur look of the time but has since lapsed into deep unfashionability alongside beige, flares and Boney M.

But Burntwood-based Matthew was ready to give it a go. Our video team were already to film the procedure with Bomber providing the commentary.

“Anything for a laugh,” Matt told us, “and anything for the Bomber and Albion.”

But when he sent in the photographs to give our stylist an idea of the raw material she would be working with, the shaved sides defied the perm’s requirements. And with no other fans out there brave enough to take on the challenge...well the idea had to be snipped from our 'Bomber Week' celebrations.

Matthew is still smiling, though. There are two complimentary tickets for this weekend’s Newcastle game on their way as a reward for his pluck.

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Sometimes it doesn't matter how many goals you've scored - if your name isn't down, you're not coming in.

Which is exactly what happened to Tony Brown when Albion visited Rotherham's Millmoor Stadium back in 2001.

Bomber arrived for the fixture to learn that his accreditation had not been processed.

"I'm sorry, we can't let you in," piped up the jobsworth steward.

After some to-ing and fro-ing, the Rotherham employee finally relented and agreed to let the Great Man in on the condition that somebody could vouch for him.

Next to arrive was a newspaper journalist from the West Midlands.

"Can I vouch for him?" chuckled the bemused journo. 

"Yes. His name is Tony Brown and he scored 279 goals for your opponents..."

Bomber was swiftly allowed in. No more questions asked.

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Gary Megson’s appointment as Albion boss in 2000 – during troubled times for The Baggies - was always likely to be given the Tony Brown seal of approval.

Why? Ask Bomber to name his hardest-ever opponent and the answer is swift: Don Megson, father of the one-time Baggies boss.

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Footballers have their superstitions and, back in the day, Bomber was no different. He hasn't changed.

In his current role as a commentator, the Great Man has taken to wearing a 'lucky' jumper to all games.

Until one balmy night in Bristol changed everything.

Bomber, travelling with Albion's publications guru Dave Bowler, was en route to a pre-season game at Ashton Gate when he decided to remove his jumper.

All was well until it became apparent Dave and Bomber were lost. 

This being a time before Sat Navs were commonplace, there was only one thing for it: time to ask a passer-by.

As the media staff weaved their way through the back streets of Bristol, Bomber spotted two men with City shirts.

"Pull over Dave, we can ask those blokes," came the Mancunian voice from the passenger seat.

Being courteous and polite, Bomber stepped out of the vehicle to speak to the Bristolians. Directions were given and off went our away-day adventurers.

In his haste to beckon over those passers-by for directions, Bomber had forgotten that he had left his jumper draped across his lap and it had slipped onto the ground. 

As the Bowler mobile made its way towards Ashton Gate it quickly became apparent that the lucky jumper was littering a Bristol B-road a few miles back.

Albion won 1-0.

Bomber's only post-match thoughts: "What am I going to tell Irene when I get home?"

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See you all next time! BoingBoing

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