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Albion 8: 03.11.15

3 November 2015

Albion 8...Loan signings

WELCOME back to our new feature Albion 8.  
Our weekly list of eight things related to Albion - this week it's our most significant loan players. 

Starting with our first-ever loan signing, Mick Martin (from Manchester United, 1975), we've totted up more than 70 loan players since.

These aren't the best, worst or most indifferent loanees...just players whose temporary spells are noted in some shape or form. You'll soon get the gist.


Romelu Lukaku (2012-13)
Perhaps the finest-ever loan spell by Albion player. Arriving from Chelsea, the tall Belgian battered in 17 goals, including a debut goal against Liverpool and a hat-trick in his final outing against Manchester United in our bizarre 5-5 draw. Also boasted the finest braided hair since Matt Carbon was in his pomp.

Paul Williams (1993)
Back in the early 1990s, Stockport County had two players called Paul Williams. You might already have guessed where this is going. We signed the striker on permanent deal in 1991 and, let's be brutal, he wasn't our finest-ever No.9. Two years later we signed the other Paul Williams on loan, a left-back who by now was with Coventry City, and such were his performances that there was a campaign for him to be signed - prompting urban myth that we'd signed the wrong one. Given that one was a tall, white striker; the other was a short, black defender we would suggest there was a hint of apocrypha about those claims.

Andy Hunt (1993)
How can we not include a striker who scored 11 goals in his first 13 games for the club, scored a hat-trick on his home debut and our first in a Wembley final - all during his loan spell? The simple fact is that we can't. Such was his form that we ended up shelling out £100,000 for his services at the end of his loan spell. A six-figure sum well spent, we think.

Kieran Richardson (2005)
He came from Manchester United as a relative unknown - he left as a hero of one of our most memorable Premier League-era campaigns. Signed in January 2005, Richardson was the attacking fulcrum of Bryan Robson's Albion midfield, scoring three goals in 12 games during a resurgent second-half of the season. Albion secured top flight survival on the final day, with a 2-0 win over Portsmouth and with three others results going their way. Richardson, scorer of the second and soon to earn his first England cap, was chaired off the field by supporters as an unlikely hero.

Ifeanyi Udeze (2003)
You'll be sat there scratching your head at this one, yet Udeze carves out a little niche for himself as a player who is persistently cast aside - unfairly in our view - as one of our worst loanees. Arriving from PAOK Salonika, much was expected from Udeze. The omens weren't good. He spent his press conference unveiling sweating and shivering, leading to a brief halt in proceedings to check he was ok. And then came the Southampton game where he was convinced the ball had rolled out of play for a throw-in. While he protested, Southampton broke and scored. He was subbed a few minutes later, with Gary Megson citing that lapse as the reason for his withdrawal. Nobody ever talks about his excellent display against West Ham.

Ben Foster (2011-12)
It was Roy Hodgson who brought the Birmingham City goalkeeper to the Hawthorns for an initial loan spell in summer 2011. 'Fozzie' went onto play in 37 of Albion's 38 League games, only missing the final match with a groin strain. He kept 10 clean sheets - equalling our Premier League clean sheets record - with the Baggies finishing 10th. Foster was also given the supporters' player of the year and the players' player of the year awards. Not bad going for a loan player. The move was made permanent in summer 2012.

Frank Sinclair (1991-92)
A lot was expected of our loan signing from Chelsea under Bobby Gould. Brought in to boost our push for promotion, all was looking promising until the defender had an unfortunate incident - let's call it a 'meeting of heads' - with referee Paul Alcock in a game against Exeter. Sinclair, who always claimed a lack of intent, received a lengthy ban and later claimed that incident had tarnished the early part of his career. Albion, meanwhile, faltered and had to wait another 12 months for a successful crack at promotion.

Neil Clement (2000)
It's often forgotten that Neil Clement - owner of 300 appearances for the Club - actually came on an initial loan spell from Chelsea. It was a big risk. Here he was giving up potential first-team football with Chelsea to help Albion's fight against relegation from the second tier. But Albion survived, made the play-offs the following year and the rest you'll need no reminding of. Such was Clem's form during that loan spell that it convinved Megson to make the deal permanent, with the left-sided defender going on to become one of the most important players of Albion's modern era. 


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