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Bowler's Delivery - Albion 1 Lester 1

18 November 2014

It's been a hard day's night

WE are a club of boundless influence. 

Ours was the first out of town football ground, a concept long since aped all over the country. 

It was an Albion man – Vic Buckingham – who laid the groundwork for the Dutch brand of total football that skipped to Catalonia and on to Bavaria via Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola. 

The Throstles changed the world when we fielded a team that included Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson.

And, of course, it was the Albion who gave The Beatles that little nudge over the edge that made them the greatest cultural phenomenon of the post-war world, giving birth to the swinging ‘60s in the process. 

What’s that? You need further explanation? Then draw on your most comfortable trousers, pull up your easiest chair, fill your most flowing bowl and listen in.

For all the furore around the Beatlemania of ’63 and the Ed Sullivan show in February ’64, there were still doubts about whether the Fab Four would last, doubts that were only finally kicked into touch by the worldwide cinema release of “A Hard Day’s Night”. 

Dick Lester was the director charged with the responsibility of putting the Fabs on screen and capturing their essence. How to do it? Why, cinéma-vérité of course, a construction of pseudo-reality, taking basic truths about existence and writing it large upon the screen.

We’d got there before The Beatles of course. Dig out your copy of “The Saturday Men” and watch Derek Kevan applying Trugel to his Brillo pad mop of hair and you have The Beatles in their dressing room prior to a TV show. 

Watch manager Archie Macaulay, yesterday’s man, trying to drill his youthful charges and you have Richard Vernon, the man who would be Slartibartfast, trying to tell John, Paul, George and Ringo all about the war. 

See Bobby Robson exhorting players to sign things for him in the dressing room and you’ve got Beatle manager Norman Rossington telling Lennon to “do yer homework” and answer the sacks of fan mail.

Listen to Don Howe’s homily about the working day – you get up, put your clothes on, come to work, get changed, train, get changed, go home, take your clothes off and go to bed, get up and get dressed, have your tea, go to bed – and you have Paul’s very clean grandfather complaining about Beatle life as “a car and a room and a car and a train and a car and a room”. 

See the Albion players dashing out onto the pitch away from the restrictions of the week and you have the exuberant squeal of joy that is “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

Still not convinced? Then watch Clive Clark wandering disconsolately around West Bromwich, a part and yet apart from the team. Then tell me that Dick Lester didn’t pay homage to that, shot by shot, as the miserable Ringo roams around to the strains of “This Boy”. 

From “The Saturday Men” to “A Hard Day’s Night”, from the Throstles to The Beatles, from us to them… 


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