Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Albion 8: Both sides of the touchline

10 November 2015

From shin pads to tracksuits

Welcome, again, to Albion 8. 

This week, we're looking at managers. But not just any old manager - oh no. 

These are men who represented the Club on both sides of the touchline - in other words, players who, at some point, became our managers, whether it's for one game or many more.

Anyway, in no particular order...(and with apologies to Craig Shakespeare and John Wile for not including them):

1. Don Howe (player 1952-64; manager 1971-74)
A right-back who made some 350 appearances for Albion - he was named in our hall-of-fame of top 16 players in 2004 - Howe was once dragged into manager Vic Buckingham's office for what could be best described as an appraisal and told to introduce the 'bicycle kick' to his game. There is no evidence to suggest he did this. In 1971, Howe returned to the Hawthorns after helping Arsenal complete the League and Cup double. His time as boss wasn't the best - he oversaw our relegation in 1973. He did, however, sign Willie Johnston. Every cloud...

2. Brian Whitehouse (player 1955-1960; caretaker-manager 1975)
The West Bromwich-born forward made 37 appearances for the Club as a player, scoring 13 goals. Whitehouse went onto make a name for himself as a coach and scout, but it was in his brief spell as caretaker boss - bridging the Don Howe and John Giles eras - that he was to notch his brief niche in Albion folklore when he handed the No.10 shirt to some youngster called Bryan Robson. The midfielder played in all three of Whitehouse's games in charge.

3. Brian Talbot (player 1988-90; manager 1988-91)
Talbot was one of several experienced heads  - Kenny Swain, Arthur Albiston and Andy Gray were the others - brought in by Ron Atkinson to try and restore Albion's fortunes. It turned out to be decent career move. Atkinson found Jesus (Gil) in Madrid, leaving Albion in the caretaker hands of Talbot. Such was his spell in temporary charge that he was handed the job on a permanent basis, with Albion in contention for a play-off spot up until the final weeks of the campaign. It never got any better for Talbot, who paid the price for that defeat to Woking in quicker time than it takes to say 'Tim Buzaglo'.

4. John Giles (player 1975-77; manager 1975-77, 1984-85)
One of the greatest midfielders to grace the 1970s, became Albion's first-ever player-manager in the summer of 1975 when he replaced Don Howe. He guided Albion out of the Second Division in his first full season before taking them to seventh a year later. A long and prosperous spell with Albion looked on the cards. But Giles had other ideas. He left in 1977, before returning for a second, less successful spell in 1984. Giles made 88 appearances for the club as a player, yet he's regarded as one of our best.

5. Michael Appleton (player 2001-2003; manager 2011)
When Michael Appleton was forced into premature retirement in 2003, then boss Gary Megson described it as "One of the saddest days I've had as a manager, Football can't afford to be losing a player of his like." Instead, Appy become one of the club's youngest coaches, working his way up through the age groups. His only game in charge was the bizarre 3-3 draw against West Ham United - we were leading 3-0 - in a game played out in front of head coach-in-waiting Roy Hodgson. These days you'll find him guiding Oxford towards a promotion push.

6. Ronnie Allen (player 1950-61; manager 1977, 1981-82)
One of our greatest-ever goalscorers - once described the 'complete footballer' - Allen wasn't as successful upon his return as manager. Allen left his players bewildered on their first day of training as Albion boss in 1977 when he rocked up to training with his wife and some deck chairs. In his second spell he had to pick up the pieces following the departure of Ron Atkinson, Bryan Robson and Remi Moses. Despite a dice with relegation, he still managed to guide the Club to FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals in 1982. There was also the small matter of being the scout who spotted Cyrille Regis and convinced the Club to put up £5000 for the youngster from Hayes. Without a doubt, one of our best players.

7. Bobby Gould (player 1971-72; manager 1991-92)
Not many footballers make the move from Molineux to the Hawthorns, but Gould made the move up the A41 in 1971 when he was signed by Don Howe for the unusual fee of £66,666. He scored 18 times in 52 games for Albion, before leaving for Bristol City. Two decades later Gould was back at The Hawthorns as successor to Brian Talbot. Despite a CV which boasted an FA Cup win at Wimbledon just three years earlier, things didn't go to plan for Gould. He was unable to prevent relegation and failure to reach the play-offs the following year ending his reign. He did, however, sign the great Bob Taylor.

8. Bryan Robson (player 1974-81; manager 2004-06)
One of the finest footballers to wear the navy-and-white stripes, Robson made just under 250 appearances for Albion, netting 46 goals, before his record £1.5million move to Manchester United. He returned to The Hawthorns as a manager in 2004, keeping the club up despite being bottom at Christmas. It didn't go quite to plan the following year, with Albion relegated back to the second tier. His final act as boss was to pursuade Kevin Phillips to move to Albion rather than return to Sunderland. But let us not forget that he gave us that famous day in May 2005 when he kept Albion up and handed his dry cleaners a bumper day of business.

Advertisement block