Behind the scenes at The Baggies
WELCOME to BAGGIE SHORTS, a slightly left-of-centre look at life within our hallowed four walls.
Today we talk Gerry Francis, Sunday games, dogs in football and why you really don't want to be making fun of Darren Moore.
So put your feet up and relax...
ALBION's trip to Everton on Monday reminds us of a visit to Goodison Park back in our first Premier League campaign in 2002/3 and the initiation of a young Wayne Rooney.
When Albion faced David Moyes' side in Merseyside, they found themselves up against the young, baby-faced Scouser.
The 17-year-old clearly had no shortage of confidence, as underlined in one somewhat foolish moment of bravado.
Collecting the ball on the left wing, young Rooney placed his foot on the ball, glared at the defender stood in front of him and put his hands on his hips - a brash act of showmanship.
A bold move, made all the more bold when you consider the defender he was 'disrespecting' was none other than Darren Moore.
It would be fair to say that Big Dave's next challenge on Rooney put the youngster in the picture as to who was boss...
SOMETIMES in life, you just need a helping paw and in November 1976, as he was making his home debut for the Throstles, David Cross got it.
As we entertained Everton at The Hawthorns, already a goal to the good thanks to His Holiness Tony Brown, a Jack Russell burst onto the field of play, picked up the ball deep in Everton territory and nudged the ball away from the Toffees midfield and into the path of Cross. Needing no second invitation, he collected the gift, rounded Dai Davies in the Everton goal and registered his first goal for the Albion.
Such an incursion would now lead to the referee halting the game immediately, snipers from the top of the East Stand taking the dog out with a tranquilising dart and health and safety insisting that everybody in the ground had a rabies shot on their way out.
And they say we’ve progressed dear reader…
GIVEN that our trip to Goodison has been shunted around by external forces – and who doesn’t yearn for the poetry of the M6 on a Monday night? – we should reflect on a similarly shifted trip back on 27th January 1974, an historic occasion at that.
Why? Here’s a clue – we kicked off at 2pm. No? Ok, it was the first time we had ever played on a Sunday, that and the early kick-off the consequence of the ongoing miners’ strike which had paralysed the country’s energy supplies, leading to the imposition of the three day working week by Ted Heath’s government. The cup draw had seen both Liverpool and Everton drawn at home and with Saturday one of the three designated days of work on Merseyside, the city could not cope with playing both on the same day, so ours was moved, the early kick-off employed to avoid the need for floodlighting.
The Throstles were in the Second Division by now and a bald quote from our manager Don Howe on the Everton programme’s front page explained our plight: "Teams have to be successful these days. It’s no use playing attractive football without getting results...people do not want to know." Sadly, we weren’t doing much of either at the time, and so it was that the Throstletariat had to make their own entertainment.
It being a Sunday, most of us were deeply disappointed to be taken away from our religious devotions and so, to atone, our supporters took their hymns with them and struck up a chorus of "The Lord’s My Shepherd". Told you it was historic.
Closer to home, Albion have welcomed coach Gerry Francis to the fold this week.
For those of you who don't know, Gerald Charles James "Gerry" Francis wasn't a bad footballer in his day...
England captain by 24, Francis was a midfield general, the man Don Revie was going to build the national team around - only for injuries to blight his career.
And, as this clip shows, he is clearly game for a laugh.
And that's it for now...until next week.