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STARS IN STRIPES: 1899/1900

4 January 2016

End of the road for Stoney Lane

REPLETE with their booty from the 1899/1900 season, these early pioneers of the club which had already twice carried off the English Cup, had to make do with a couple of smaller hauls as a new century dawned – the Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity Cup and the Staffordshire Cup. 

For all that Albion were a big name in the game, this was not a vintage season for the Throstles who spent the league campaign bumbling along in the lower reaches of the First Division, briefly flirting with a first ever relegation for a time until an 8-0 win over Nottingham Forest three games from season’s end finally dispelled those fears, Billy Walker registering a hat-trick, Charlie Simmons and Richard Roberts each helping themselves to two goals, John Chadburn adding another. 

The Second Division wasted little more time in gathering the Albion to her bosom however as we finished flat bottom the following year under the management of club secretary Frank Heaven, well known locally because his wife was a particularly tiny woman, hence the saying “Frank Heaven’s for little girls”...

But we digress. The 1899/1900 campaign was a particularly historic one for it marked the passing on an Albion era as we played at Stoney Lane for the final time ahead of our migration to The Hawthorns for the following season, and so this is one of the final team photos take at that ground. 

Stoney Lane had fallen into some disrepair and was judged by many as perhaps the worst in the First Division as Albion’s directors refused to invest in its upkeep, recognising that it was not a long-term solution for an ambitious club.

In its time, Stoney Lane played host to 199 senior Albion games of which 113 were won and only 53 lost, the last one that epic 8-0 thumping of Forest which saw Albion end the season unbeaten in their final seven home games, a run which kept them afloat in a season of stifling mediocrity. 

Everything petered out rather badly after three wins in the first five games had promised better times ahead but they promptly won just three of the next 16 fixtures as goalscoring became something of mystery to the club.

They put that particular fault right in the first round of the FA Cup when they swept Walsall aside in a replay, winning 6-1 after a 1-1 draw in Walsall. Liverpool provided the second round opposition and again the Throstles were happy enough with a 1-1 draw at their place before overcoming them 2-1 at Stoney Lane, which turned out to be the final FA Cup tie there as we went down 2-1 in Southampton in round three.

But look closely upon those gentlemen of Albion for in their number is a possible instigator of Albion’s secondary nickname, the Baggies. Sitting on the ground on the left and getting a friendly massage from Archie Dunn – a little over familiar for 1900 don’t you think? – is Amos Adams. 

Amos was clearly the Sean Gregan of his day for the contemporary legend goes that Amos was a bit on the stocky side and, by 1904, “such was his thickness of hips they made his ‘baggy’ pants look even more huge, and one day when he was not playing well, a fan shouted ‘Baggy!’ Albion and Adams recovered quickly, but the name stuck”. 

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