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Albion 8: Promotions ahoy

24 November 2015

Celebrations galore

TUESDAY is Albion 8 day - your weekly round-up of Baggies-centric randomness.

Today we celebrate Albion promotions. There have been 10 up until now. And, with apologies to those who enjoyed 1911 and 2004, we simply had to lose those two...

So, in no particular order:

1902 (W25, D5, L4. Points: 55. Finished Top)
Ah, where it all began. Having been relegated the previous season, Albion bounced back with a comfortable top-place finish, winning 25 of their 34 games and losing just four - at 1.62 points per game it was our best-ever return of points for a promotion-winning campaign (2.35 points per game under the current three-points-per-win system). Local lad Charlie 'Chippy' Simmons scored 23 League goals, with the highlight being a 7-0 win over Gainsborough Trinity. Thank Heavens for our manager-secretary and headline-writers-dream Frank Heaven.

2002 (W27 D8 L11.Points 89. Finished Second)
It wasn't just the fact we were back in the top flight after 16 years, or that we clawed back an 11 point deficit over Wolves to clinch second spot, or that we kept 27 clean sheets, or even missed nine penalties... it was the whole package. The most dramatic, spectacular promotion perhaps of any club in modern times - throw in the Battle of Bramall Lane for extra gravitas - was clinched versus Crystal Palace on the final day of the season. Momentum was Albion's when Igor Balis converted only Albion's third (of 12) penalty of that campaign in the penultimate match. 

1931 (W22 D10 D10)
Nobody had done it before...or has done since. In 1931 we became the only club in English football to win the FA Cup and gain promotion in the same year, with WG Richardson helping himself to 24 goals in the process. Albion claimed second spot on the final day of the season thanks to a 3-2 victory over Charlton, having won the FA Cup Final the previous week - a 2-1 win over Birmingham, since you ask.  

1993 (W25 D10 L11. Points 85. Finished Fourth)
If you could plan the perfect promotion then 2002 might well be it...but pretty close behind would be a trip to Wembley for a play-off final and a demolition of the opposition. Which is exactly what Ossie Ardiles' men did in 1993 when we managed to claim nearly two points per game, yet still only finished fourth. Play-off semi-final success over Swansea followed by a 3-0 rout of Port Vale gave Albion a rare day in the sun during an overwise bleak period. The yellow-and-green barcode summed up the era well: lots of thin bits. And didn't our lads look smart in their grey Wembley suits?

2010 (W26 D13 L7. Points: 91. Finished Second)
Robbie Di Matteo took over a newly-relegated Albion side and swiftly brought them back up. The inspired Dorrans-Thomas-Brunt attacking trio supplemented Albion's forward line, with the Baggies finishing the season 11 points behind title winners Newcastle and 12 in front of Nottingham Forest. It was our last-ever promotion and statistically, in terms of points, Albion's second best.

1976 (W20 D13 L9. Points 53. Finished Third)
Albion sneaked in on the final day thanks to a 1-0 victory over Oldham, having looked anything but promotion challengers the previous summer. John Giles took over from Don Howe and managed only one win from his opening 10 games - imagine that now - only for his side to climb the table. Wearing yellow-and-green stripes and pale blue shorts, Bomber Brown volleyed Albion back to the Top Flight at Boundary Park.

2008 (W23 D12 L11. Points: 81. Finished Top)
Albion came the closest that any club ever has to claiming another promotion-and-cup double. Blitzing the League in style - scoring more than 100 in all competitions, but also conceding a fair few - Tony Mowbray's side made the FA Cup semi-final along the way, losing to a somewhat dubious goal. If 2002 had the drama and 'wow' factor, 2008 had the goal-appeal. But we're still not sure about the Tank-Tops and Trophies-look...

1949 (W 24 D8 L10 Points 56 Finished Second)
Back in the days when only the top two made it up, Albion finished runners-up ahead of Southampton but in reality we should have claimed the League title - only a defeat to Grimsby robbed us of silverware on the very last day of the season. That honour went to Fulham, who ended the campaign one point better off. Dave Walsh was the top scorer, netting 28 in just 45 appearances. Marvellous. 

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