Club News

MY ALBION: “It’s going from heartbreak to joy in seconds”

Baggies tales from Australia

WE have reached week four of our world tour to find a host of fascinating supporters’ stories from all around the globe.

We kicked things off in the USA before jetting back across the Atlantic Ocean to pop in to Norway and then Italy.

This week we are heading down under.

Ben Downing, you are a 35-year-old IT student living in Brisbane, Australia, and you have a unique tale to tell about why you became an Albion fan haven’t you?
Yes, that’s true. I am a regular listener to the BBC World Service overnight and in particular the programme SportsWorld which has live Premier League matches over the weekends. About 10 years ago they were broadcasting a Baggies game and the pundits were saying that they had no hope. Well as an Aussie, this was like a red flag to a bull. I supported the Baggies in that game and I have followed ever since.

What is it like supporting Albion in Australia? Do you know of any other Australian Baggies?
Supporting the Baggies here is definitely an interesting experience. Most football fans support the big clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City or Arsenal. It’s always fun when we beat them. The downside is that I can’t walk into a shop and buy merchandise. I have to do it all online. The games are normally on at about 2am over here so following the Baggies can be a real test of seeing how little sleep you can get. My wife and I have two children, a one-year-old and a five-year-old, so I’ll often be watching the game while nursing a child. I know quite a few local Baggies fans as I am a member of OzBaggies, the Australian supporters’ group. We are a good bunch of people who love the game and love the Baggies.

It’s fair to say you live quite a distance away from The Hawthorns. Have you ever made the journey across? If not, do you have any plans to?
I am yet to make the journey to The Hawthorns but my wife and I have an arrangement. I am going to drop her and the kids off in Birmingham where she can go shopping and I am going to go to a game at The Hawthorns. She isn’t really the biggest of shoppers. She will be more concerned about me in the club store! This trip will happen after I graduate next year.

How do you follow the club from Australia?
There are a few ways I can follow the matches and the latest news. At the moment, matches are shown on pay television so I will watch most games live and the others I will record and watch later. I get all the latest news from various websites such as the club’s official one, BBC Football and the Birmingham Mail. I also follow the club on Twitter and Facebook. The guys from the Australian supporters' group are also pretty quick to post anything important.

What has been your favourite game to watch as an Albion fan and why?
It happened on the 25th September, 2010 when we beat Arsenal 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium. I have some mates from church who are Arsenal-mad. I felt great walking into church that Sunday after the game wearing my Albion gear.

We are guessing that one day you would like us to come to Australia on a pre-season tour? What would that be like for you?
Oh man. I can’t even describe how awesome that would be. You would not be able to wipe the smile off my face. I think I would faint, and if I met any of the players then you better have the ambulance on standby. I have seen quite a bit of football here. The Olympics in 2000, the Australian League and I have even seen Australia qualify for the World Cup in 2006. However, seeing the Baggies here would eclipse everything. The result wouldn’t matter to me and the odds are that I wouldn’t even remember it due to the emotions I would feel.

Finally Ben, what does West Bromwich Albion mean to you?
Albion means late nights and early mornings. It’s going from heartbreak to joy in seconds. It’s copping a joke from my mates and then getting my own back. It’s about being part of a global fan community. Albion is my club and it always will be.