A CATCH UP WITH...Gary Robson

Former Albion man lifts the lid

NAME: Gary Robson
AGE: 50
Time at Albion: 1981-93
First impressions:
I spent 12 years at Albion but it was actually more like 21 because from the age of seven I used to come down from the North East with my mum and dad to watch Bryan play for the youth team and the reserves. When he got into the first team he'd often take me down to the dressing room so by the time I signed in 1981 the likes of Ally Rob, Cyrille Regis and Derek Statham already knew me and made me welcome. Bryan and I were at the club for three months before he moved. I had offers from Newcastle and Sunderland but West Bromwich felt like home. Everything about the club seemed right.
Best match:
I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Garry Thompson went for that big win (4-1) against Forest. It should have been about six or seven. I played left midfield and set one up for Thommo - we have one move for a goal which came about from 40-odd passes. We were brilliant. My best individual memory was probably the FA Cup third round win over Wimbledon (1990) when I scored one and set one up. It was against the Crazy Gang and very physical - my type of game. I got into the bath afterwards and had stud marks all over my legs and body - including a giant rake running down from my groin all the way to my knee courtesy of Dennis Wise.
Least favourite game:
The one that obviously people refer to is Woking in 1991 but from a personal point of view it was Villa in the FA Cup fifth round (in 1990). I was absolutely flying at the time and the club were in talks with Derby County over a move to the top division. And then it all fell apart - I broke my leg, we lost 2-0 and it felt like the end of the world. It cost us a place in the quarter final, me a big move and it took me a long time to get over it physically and mentally.
Team mate you'd most like to go for a drink with:
I got on well with Bob Taylor - he came and lived with me for a bit after he moved from Bristol City - but I was also good pals with Don Goodman, Stuart Naylor and Darren Bradley. I'm still in touch with Bob and Don.

Who did you share a room with - any annoying habits?
I shared with Colin Anderson for about five years but also for Stuart Naylor for a while. Every Saturday before an away game I'd get up and slob around watching TV, while Big Stuart got up and started ironing his shirts. After a couple of weeks I asked him to iron mine as well...which he did without any fuss. It took him ages to cotton on I was just being lazy. Who said goalkeepers aren't clever?
A funny thing happened when?
We went on a summer tour of Netherlands in the early 80s. Our hotel was next to a massive mansion, which had a huge wire fence - about 20 feet tall. Anyway, one of the days the lads were bored so Ally Robertson rounded everyone up for a game of cricket. Eventually someone smashed the ball for a six over this fence. As the youngest player I was sent to go over to retrieve our one and only ball. So I climbed over the fence into this field, picked up the ball and then I noticed loads of ostriches ahead of me. Most people have guard dogs...but not here - they had these huge ostriches. The next thing I've got half a dozen of these birds running towards me. I jumped up and because it was a wired fence the lads started shaking it, trying to make me fall. Somehow I go over while these ostriches circled me. Anyway, the next thing I know the police have turned up. Thankfully, Martin Jol and Romeo Zondervan were big news in Holland and managed to sweet talk the Dutch police into not arresting me for trespass. I can't imagine many other footballers have been chased by six ostriches....
The strangest team-talk you've heard?
I didn't play in this game, but I do remember it. We were playing at Bolton and Bobby Gould had devised this system earlier in the week where he would hold up a number when we got a corner. What he would do is assess the situation in the penalty area and hold up the number he thought would best deal with it - so 1 might be a corner to the near post, 2 might be a far post corner, 3 might be a short corner...and so on. Anyway, Colin Anderson was on corner duty and each time we got a corner he had to wait for the board to go up. It didn't work. And I think it confused our defenders into thinking they were being subbed. It was innovative but that idea soon got abandoned.
Football now, what would you change?
I hate diving. We need to help referees by allowing them to consult a fourth official before a decision is made over a penalty. And if the player has dived he should get a straight red card. Diving is cheating. I hate it.
Three words to describe your Albion experience: Twelve. Fantastic. Years.