The goalkeeper with added boing…
Over the international break, we’re bringing you the countdown on Albion’s 10 greatest post-war goalkeepers. To qualify, they’ve kept 25 clean sheets in the league and from there, we’ve worked out their clean sheets to games percentage. Eyes down for a full house…
7. Alan Miller
101 games, 27 clean sheets, 26.73%
Among recent Albion goalkeepers, there have been few more popular than Alan Miller, for all that his stay with us was a comparatively brief one, just 101 games in total, three of them coming in a false start, on loan from Arsenal at the start of 1991/92.
Alan came to The Hawthorns full time in 1996/97, drafted in early on in Ray Harford’s reign to solve our on-going problem between the sticks. Miller took to the job instantly and posted five clean sheets in a dozen games to the end of that season as the Throstles came to look an altogether more uncompromising outfit under Harford’s defensive disciplines and highly adept coaching style.
It was the following season when Alan truly came into his own, a thoroughly dependable goalkeeper with an acrobatically entertaining style too. A character in the mould of John Osborne in many ways, always connecting with the supporters, like Ossie he was a safe pair of hands too.
With Harford’s Albion tending to sit back and soak up the pressure before hitting on the break with the pace of the likes of Hunt, Kilbane, Hughes and Sneekes, there was plenty of work for the defence to do.
1997, Miller had posted nine clean sheets in 18 games and Albion were looking real promotion contenders. And then Ray Harford left.rdMiller played his full part in that, not just with some spectacular saves but by organising his back four and keep things together. By the time we beat Birmingham in the famous “we only need one chance” game at The Hawthorns on November 23
Nonetheless, it was a strong season for Miller, not least in keeping two clean sheets in our wins over the Wolves, keeping another the season after, his post-match celebrations guaranteeing him a place in Albion folklore.
Albion became a far less consistent animal over the next couple of years under Denis Smith and then Brian Little. With the club wracked by upheaval, on and off the field and sometimes even in the tunnel, it wasn’t the easiest place to produce your best football and plenty of players either suffered for that or found somewhere else to play.
Miller did the latter, joining Blackburn Rovers midway through 1999/2000, but leaving a host of good memories behind him as one of our best loved players of the ‘90s.
7. Alan Miller
8. Jim Sanders
9. Ray Potter
10. Norman Heath