Albion mourn former coach
FOOTBALL is a game full of unsung heroes, those who toil in the background so that on a Saturday, the centre-forward can take all the credit.
One such was Albert McPherson, who passed away on Sunday 11th January.
Born in Salford, a lifetime in football initially brought him to Walsall. Playing at centre-half, McPherson became a rock and a leader, skippering the Saddlers trough back to back promotion from Fourth Division to Second in 1959/60 and 1960/61.
If you like omens, Albert pitched up in the West Midlands in 1954, settling in at Fellows Park in the very year that the Albion’s celestial "Team of the Century" were a whisker away from the 20th century’s first double.
A decade later, after 351 games for Walsall, Albert hung up his boots and went into a life of coaching, moving to The Hawthorns and taking up the role of trainer / coach under Jimmy Hagan.
Albert worked with the first team for a couple of seasons, seeing us win the League Cup in 1966 and reach the final the following season, but before long, he found his true vocation, working in youth and reserve team football, bringing the youngsters through the system and into the senior game.
The number of young Throstles who passed through the McPherson finishing school with flying colours was legion. Try these for size: Alistair Robertson, Len Cantello, Bryan Robson, John Trewick, Derek Statham, Remi Moses, Martyn Bennett.
His success, according to Tony Brown, was all down to a simple formula.
“Albert was a football man, through and through, steeped in the game, he watched it, talked about it all the time.
"He was old school, he made sure you knew what you needed to do, he was very clear in his instructions.
"He was a lovely fella to talk to, but you knew where you stood with him as well. He didn’t mess around, he would tell you off if he wasn’t happy.
"I remember training with him under Jimmy Hagan back in the ‘60s, but then I trained with him again at the end of my career here in 1981, when Ronnie Allen took me out of the first team squad and I went to train with the kids.
"Watching him at first hand, you could see why he was so good with the youngsters because they hung on his every word, they worked hard and he instilled real discipline in them.
"I think you can tell just how good he was when you look at Albion’s record of bringing players through. Look at all those players that emerged in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Then, after he left in 1984, what homegrown players have we brought through in the last 30 years up until the last couple of years? I think that is testimony to how good Albert was."
An unsung hero perhaps, but an Albion legend undoubtedly.
Rest easy Albert.
A full tribute to Albert McPherson will feature in the Tottenham issue of “Albion News”, the club’s multi-award winning matchday magazine.