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Albion 8: Irish Baggies

17 November 2015

Boys in Green

WELCOME back to Albion 8. Your weekly mix of Albion randomness.

This week, we say An-mhaith to our friends across the water by celebrating our Irish friends' achievements last night - whilst hoping Google Translate hasn't stitched us up.

In no particular order are eight players who made their mark, not only in blue-and-white stripes, but also the green jerseys of the Republic of Ireland.

Dave Walsh (1945-50)
Signed from Irelandby Fred Everiss who got the ferry over on Jack Vernon’s recommendation, Walsh played for the Republic AND Northern Ireland - indeed he was in the Republic team that became the first foreign side to beat England in this country, in September 1949. He scored in each of his first six games for the Albion, still a club record: 100 goals in 174 games. We believe he is Albion’s oldest living player at 92.

John Giles (1975-77)
To be filed under 'great players to never play in a World Cup', 'Joy-uls', as he was known locally, was one of the finest-ever midfielders of the 1970s and, at one point, combined not only playing and managing his club, but also his country - which sounds like an impressive bit of multi-tasking to us. His tenure sparked the arrival of compatriots. Any coincidence we first wore the yellow and green stripes under his reign? What do you think...

Kevin Kilbane (1997-1999)
When Peter Barnes became our record signing for a little under £750,000, nobody envisaged we'd have to wait a mere 18 years to break that record - 'Killa' being our first seven-figure player when he signed for a fee in the region of £1.2million. Yet his Albion career didn't start too well; he woke up on his first morning - he was staying in a local hotel - to find his car had been vandalised. It got better. Capable of providing, and scoring goals, he remains one of the most capped footballers to be associated with Albion, winning 110 caps for his country. 

Tony Grealish (1984-86)
It's hard to imagine now that a footballer who skippered Brighton in the 1983 FA Cup final was to only sign for Albion 12 months later as a result of a successful trial. Grealish, one of the finest bearded players of his the 1980s, was to score five goals in 76 games during a two year period before realising that life under Ron Saunders wasn't for him in October 1986, prompting a move to Manchester City. He was capped 47 times by Ireland.

Mickey Evans (1997-2000)
Back in the darkest pre-Gary Megson days, anyone who got near to an international shirt of any colour was generally looked upon with awe and admiration. Micky Evans perhaps didn't have the greatest Albion career, suffering from injuries and illness (later attributed to asthma). Signing from Southampton for £750,000 in 1997, it took the Plymouth-born man 12 games to score. In all he got just six goals in 63 games, but he did score for us at Molineux. And he won one cap with the Republic of Ireland in the process.

Keith Andrews (2012)
He came, he stayed here for just 14 games and he will be forever remembered for just one game - that 5-1 win at Molineux back in 2012. The law of 'exes' dictates that any footballer featuring against his former club will perform with significance. Andrews scored his first for the club in that victory, also netting the following week against Sunderland. The ex-Blackburn man was capped 35 times by the Republic of Ireland, being arguably their best performer during an otherwise miserable Euro 2012.

Paddy Mulligan (1975-79)
One of three Ireland internationals to join us following Giles' appointment - the others being Mick Martin and Ray Treacy - Mulligan arrived from Crystal Palace in September 1975, playing a key role in Albion's promotion of 1976. The over-lapping right-back was a regular until Brendon Batson's arrival in 1978, scoring twice in 132 appearances for the Baggies. He wore the green jersey 51 times. 

Reginald Ryan (1945-1955)
Another one of our contingent to represent both nations either side of the Irish border, Ryan was to win 16 caps with the Republic of Ireland and one with Northern Ireland. Nicknamed 'Paddy' and also 'Rubbernack' by his colleagues - no, we don't know either - Ryan was one of five Irishmen to represent the Club immediately after the war (Jack Vernon, Billy Lunn, John Tighe and Dave Walsh were the others) and scored 31 goals for the club in 272 appearances during a 10-year spell with the club. He later worked in our pools department before also doing a spot of scouting work.

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