The Lord's My Shepherd
A LATE change in column content today, for the one originally written was deemed too controversial for online use (actually we're trying to drum up some programme sales!). So if you want to read all about football, the crossroads and the devil, you’re just going to have to pick up a copy of Albion News on Saturday.
Instead, from talking of the devil to angels in the architecture instead…
A few of you hardy souls will have noticed that Albion News has embraced the world of antisocial media and joined twitter – get on it at @wbafcprogramme if you will.
Amongst the many things that we tweet are programme pages and covers from yesteryear and, on Monday February 23, we brought you the cover from the game on that day in 1974, a home fixture with Bristol City.
It was an historic occasion for two reasons in particular, the more important being that this was the day when Jeff Astle scored the last of his 174 senior goals for the Throstles.
Other than that, the game kicked off at an odd time, 2.45pm. The reason? The miners were on strike and as a consequence, British industry was crippled by a power shortage.
A three day working week was introduced, power cuts were commonplace and as a consequence, even the national game had to do a bit of creative thinking to cope with the restrictions.
Amongst these changes was the bringing forward of kick-off times so that games might be played in daylight rather than having to have the floodlights on – these were in the days before HD-TV and the need for stadium lighting brighter than a film set, when games were played out in dingier circumstances.
Even then, back up generators were ferried into many grounds to ensure that if the lights did need to go on then even the best efforts of the NUM (National Union of Miners) and Ted Heath’s government together could not stop football rolling on.
So desperate was the plight back then that we were even allowed Sunday football in order to get more fixtures in before the cover of darkness demanded the use of electricity. And thus, legend has it, did the Throstletariat alight upon a song that has served us well lo these two score years and one.
Albion supporters being deeply religious souls, they were in two minds about being drawn away from their holy devotions and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about trading a Sunday in the company of the Church of England for one with the Church of Albion as we played our first Sunday game up at Goodison Park in the FA Cup.
As is the habit of the English, a compromise was reached and so while the Throstletariat congregated at the match, obviously, just so God didn’t feel left out, hymn books were packed beneath surplices and hauled out for the game. Dearly beloved, let us turn now to Psalm 23. And so a tradition was born.
And how appropriate remains that song even now for, with an election in the offing, just as it was in early 1974, then God help us…