From Foxes to Throstles
Leicester City might be the champions of England these days, but there were days when so rapid was the transfer of players between us that the Foxes were almost our feeder club – apologies to the vegetarians out there. Here’s a selection of those we’ve brought across the midlands to God’s country…
331+28 appearances, 85 goals
One of Don Howe’s best signings, albeit that Ally’s greatest Albion days came largely after he’d gone, “Action Man” as he was known was the archetypal player’s player, the kind that sometimes goes underappreciated beyond the confines of the dressing room.
Although he wasn’t built like Regis or Astle, Ally was still a decent target man, more than capable of holding up the ball and bringing others into play. Beyond that, he was a greater chaser of lost causes, a player who could work the channels and who was willing to do plenty of Cyrille’s running for him.
He was a big signing when he arrived in March 1972 but his golden year in front of goal didn’t come until 1978/79 when, despite going under the radar in that glittering team, he was top scorer, setting the season off on the right foot, putting us a goal up at home to Ipswich just 21 seconds into the opening day. He was joint Midlands Footballer of the Year with his namesake Tony that term, due reward for the quality he brought to the team.
62 appearances, 23 goals
Jack Haines was a more than handy goalscorer too, signing for the Throstles in early 1948, scoring on debut in a 2-0 win at Upton Park. That was an Albion side that wasn’t short on goals either and in the 1948/49 season Haines quickly formed an intuitive understanding with one of our all-time great goalscorers, Dave Walsh.
Between them, they scored 37 goals as Albion won promotion back to the top flight, profiting largely from the service provided by skipper Billy Elliott on the right flank. Jack started the following season back in the top league and scored three times in 11 games before making a surprise move on to Bradford Park Avenue, then struggling in the Second Division.
52 appearances, 13 goals
As Haines was on his way, so another Leicester import, Arthur Smith, was beginning to make his presence felt at The Hawthorns, despite having been there for a while. Tending to fill in across the forward line, from outside-left to inside-right, Smith’s best run came towards the end of his Albion stay with three goals in three games as we thumped Everton and Portsmouth before, with chances becoming more limited as the “Team of the Century” took shape, he headed off to Plymouth Argyle.
59 appearances, 22 goals
20 appearances, 7 goals
We were even importing back in the days when they were still Leicester Fosse, drafting in Billy Garraty in October 1908 to spearhead our push for promotion. He settled to his task in impressive fashion too with a dozen goals in 26 games, but we fell short to Spurs by 0.02 of a goal – one more goal from Garraty or his colleagues and we’d have gone up instead.
He started the following season at centre-half, moving back and forth through the team across the campaign, ending up with another nine goals in a mediocre season for the club, heading for Lincoln City at season’s end.
Garraty was following a trail blazed a year earlier by Harold Wilcox. His time with us was brief but productive, seven goals coming in 20 games before the blandishments of Plymouth Argyle proved too much to resist.
Goals were not a feature of Phil Gilchrist’s game – not a single one managed across his Albion career – but as part of the back three that featured Larus Sigurdsson and Darren Moore in front of Russell Hoult, he was instrumental in the rebirth of the Albion that culminated in promotion in 2001/02.
On the left of the three, Gilchrist enjoyed a stellar season as we posted a clean sheets record while Hoult was able to enjoy most of the games from the comfort of his deckchair. Wearing a plaster cast on his wrist as some kind of talisman, his part in that extraordinary season should never be underestimated.
Injuries curtailed his participation in our first Premier League season and midway through the next promotion push, he was on his way again, this time to Rotherham United, 100 Albion starts testifying to his contribution to the club.
5+5 appearances, 1 goal
Gilchrist’s Albion tenure was a real success, but Lee Marshall? Not so much. Signed as the Throstles embarked on that first Premier League season, he wrote himself into the record books with our first ever goal in the new division, a consolation effort in our 3-1 home defeat to Leeds.
He looked to be settling in nicely, but after he was substituted in the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea in late October, he was never seen again, rarely involved with the first team except for Christmas Day training sessions. His ill fortune continued with a couple of nasty knee injuries that ultimately ended what had been a promising career.
Just as Marshall was drafted in to bolster the squad following a promotion season, so Riccy Scimeca joined us in the summer of 2004 to bring experience to the side. He was an early season regular under Gary Megson across the defence and midfield, continuing in that vein under Bryan Robson until the resurgence of Ronnie Wallwork and the arrival of Kieran Richardson reshaped the team.
Nonetheless, Riccy continued to do his bit in training and was admirably professional to the end, his final act being to get the scoreline from Crystal Palace’s game on Great Escape day before cavorting across the pitch with his teammates.
31+6 appearances, 1 goal
Another former Leicester defender, the youthful Mattock was signed by Roberto di Matteo as Albion looked to maintain our yo-yo reputation with an immediate return to the Premier League after relegation in 2009. Replacing Paul Robinson at left-back, he produced a solid enough campaign without quite reaching the heights suggested by his potential, ultimately moving on to Sheffield Wednesday. Best remembered by many here for having his name tattooed across his back.
87 appearances, 12 goals
Left-winger Derek came to The Hawthorns in the summer of 1958, joining a side that had finished fourth the previous season, signed by Vic Buckingham as the long-term replacement for George Lee.
Hogg was signed for £20,000, charged with providing the ammunition for Derek Kevan, “The Tank” powering through the centre of Albion’s attack. That said, he was still capable of knocking the goals in himself, scoring on his Hawthorns bow in a 2-2 draw with Birmingham in August 1958.
He enjoyed two seasons as a consistent member of a team that continued to populate the upper reaches of the First Division, but with the Throstles now under the management of Gordon Clark, Albion began to play with just the one winger, Alec Jackson the man in favour. Looking for regular first team football, Derek was on his way in October 1960, heading for Cardiff City.