Guess who's back...?
WELCOME back to first Baggie Shorts of the New Year.
Obviously, it's been a quiet old period within our four walls.
Now that we've all finally taken a deep breath, it's time to take a slightly hazy look at all things Albion.
THERE was no chance of a quick exit at Upton Park following our recent game.
As our kitmen attempted to leave the stadium car park to make the long journey home, they were held up by vehicle clocking the car park exit.
But this wasn't any old car. It was Sam Allardyce's set of wheels.
And given the West Ham boss was still engaged in traditional post-match chit-chats with others, it was left to a steward to try and move the vehicle. No such luck. The Upton Park man started sweating profusely in his Hi-Vis vest as it became clear he had no idea how to start the car, let alone move it - leaving our stuck colleagues frustrated.
He wasn't the only one blocked in mind. Poor Andy Carroll found his own exit blocked by none other than Tony Pulis.
Mind you, one could argue that it wasn't the first time that afternoon Carroll had found nowhere to go - just ask dominant centre-half duo Gareth McAuley and Joleon Lescott.
ALBION have gone goal mad of late. Seven for the first team against Gateshead, five for the Under 21s against Reading, even eight for the Under 18s in their last game before Christmas and hat-tricks or better for Saido Berahino, Kemar Roofe and Samir Nabi to boot.
With hat-tricks on the agenda, it reminded us that Ike Clarke, once of this parish, would have been celebrating his 100th birthday on Friday 9th January. Born in Tipton, Ike scored 43 goals in 117 games for us either side of World War II.
But it was his goalscoring exploits during wartime that were especially remarkable. One of only four players to feature for the Throstles in all six wartime seasons, he registered 10 hat-tricks while Hitler was doing his best to make every pitch in Europe unplayable. Ike hit his peak as the war came towards its end, hammering 29 goals in 35 games in 1944/45 and then 19 in 35 games the season after. The great man passed away in 2002.
And while we are on the subject of goalscorers and anniversaries, 90 years ago, on Saturday, 10th January 1925, George James knocked in a hat-trick in our 4-0 win over Luton Town in a first round FA Cup tie.
Nothing so remarkable in that perhaps, except that it brought an end to an individual scoring run of 16 goals in just eight games, a run that included him scoring the fastest ever goal recorded at The Hawthorns, scored in just five seconds against Nottingham Forest on 13th December 1924. He knocked in another three that day just for good measure as we won 5-1, Joe Carter scoring the fifth.
There were only manly handshakes all round after goals in those days too.
THIS Saturday's game against Hull City brings back memories of inconvenience for one of our colleagues.
There is nothing like being caught short: as our man Gez Mulholland almost found out at Hull, in more ways than one.
When Albion visited the KC Stadium back in December, it was swiftly established that there was one major logistical problem - the distance between press box (where reporters watch the game) and media room, the traditional pre-and-post-match work area and, more so, the long journey to the Gents.
The initial thought of holding it in until full-time proved too risky for young media man Mulholland - so he dashed through the concourse as quickly as he could to avoid being spotted in his Albion suit and coat.
On the way back, he was tapped on the shoulder by a Hull fan: “The girls' toilets are that way.”
Bemused by the taunt, Mulholland, our media support officer, responded, “Oh really, is that where you have just come from?”
Realising quickly that our friend was over 6ft tall and accompanied by several purring Tigers, Gez was next seen dashing back up the stand towards the safety of the press box.
Which, frankly, was a relief to all.
THE flame-haired Paul McShane might well be making a Hawthorns return this Saturday in a colour of shirt that well suits his barnet. These things are of importance to the former Albion, Manchester United and Sunderland defender, as well we know here. Way back in 2007, as we were putting the club’s end of season DVD together, we were looking for victims / interviewees.
In a team where Jason Koumas could put Houdini to shame, preventing players leaving the building when required for interview duty was of paramount importance.
Fortunately, McShane was easy to spot and catch him we did, only to be told, "Sorry, I’m not doing it, I need to get my haircut before I do anything on camera." Add your own punchlines, you don’t need us.
AND finally, never let it be said our American sponsors Intuit QuickBooks don’t support local business.
Saturday’s Premier League clash against Hull sees our supporters from across the Pond offering a tasty surprise for Baggies fans.
They will be handing out chocolate bars to the first 2,000 children aged between four and 12 through the turnstiles.
Hidden in two of them will be free mascot packages for a future game but even if you are not one of the lucky recipients, the chocolate itself comes with acclaimed local flavour.
They have been provided by Cape Hill resident Jenny Emanuel, the enterprising parent behind Charlie’s Mom’s Chocolate Factory, a one-woman operation whose product is earning rave reviews.
We hear that Jenny has been burning the midnight oil trying to complete the order but all is ready now.
Don’t forget kids – open the chocolate but don’t throw away the wrapper. You never know what’s on the other side….