Red men who embraced their inner Throstle
There haven’t been too many men who have made it down to the Promised Land from Liverpool over the years, though that might have something to do with the trophy rooms of Anfield being paved with silver and the related bank accounts being filled with gold, while things have been a little more Spartan in these parts. Yet even in days of yore, when the playing field between us was altogether more level, there were few who traded Liverpool for The Hawthorns. Weird lot.
118 appearances (2008-11)
That said, there have been a few exceptions, the most recent of which was Scott Carson who traded in a life in the shadow of goalkeeper Pepe Reina for a slot in the Albion first team instead. After a couple of seasons out on loan to Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa, Carson replaced Dean Kiely between the sticks for Tony Mowbray’s newly promoted team and over the next three years became a confirmed regular in the team, clocking up almost 120 games for the Throstles.
He was a consistent performer in the main, extremely well liked around the club and a very conscientious club captain for just over a year after he took on the mantle from the departing Jonathan Greening. Cursed by the memory of the crucial mistake made for England against Croatia in 2007, there was a section of the crowd – and the country - that were never won over by Carson and the opportunity of a fresh start in a new country was too much to turn down when he headed for Turkey.
12 appearances (2005-06)
Scott wasn’t the only goalkeeper to arrive here via Liverpool upon the recommendation of erstwhile ‘keeping coach Joe Corrigan. Big Joe knew plenty about Chris Kirkland from his time on Merseyside and when we were in search of a custodian for the 2005/6 season, Kirkland came here on a season long loan. Very much the Scott Carson of a few years earlier – a promising young English goalkeeper who couldn’t break into the Liverpool team due to fierce foreign opposition – Kirkland had all the attributes of a top number one, except for one. He kept breaking. Had he been more durable, then quite possibly Joe Hart would still be biding his team on the England bench, but a catalogue of injuries saw him restricted to just a solitary international, while his Albion career was no different – a dozen games, an injury, and that was it.
5 appearances 2 goals (1988)
While we’re talking Liverpool loanees, John Durnin was another who passed this way but briefly, clocking up just five games under Brian Talbot in the autumn of 1988. Talbot had replaced the departing Ron Atkinson as caretaker manager and, with Don Goodman, Stewart Phillips and John Paskin temporarily sidelined, he needed a striker. Durnin, regarded as the next John Aldridge by some, fitted the bill and in his second game, notched the winner in a 1-0 victory over Manchester City. He played his part as Albion completed a run of five straight wins under Talbot to earn him the manager’s job full-time, signing off with a second goal in the 2-1 defeat at Leeds, returning to Anfield after they turned down our £200,000 bid for his services.
64 appearances 28 goals (1908-10)
After Scott Carson, the most successful Liverpool emigrant was Charlie Hewitt who joined in time to play the final game of the 1907/08 season, our first recruit from Anfield. Thereafter, he was pretty much a regular for the next two seasons, playing as an inside-forward for the Throstles as we first missed promotion on goal average, losing out to Spurs, then had a middling season after which he moved to Spennymoor United. Hewitt racked up a very decent 28 goals in his 64 Albion games, perhaps the highlight being a brace in a 3-0 win over Spurs. As it later turned out, if he’d completed the hat-trick, the Baggies would have gone up that year at Tottenham’s expense.
46 appearances 5 goals (1928-29)
Harry Chambers also joined us while we were in the Second Division. Chambers was a celebrated goalscorer, an England international, but he was approaching the veteran stage at 31. He slotted into a formidable front line that included Jimmy Cookson, Joe Carter and Tommy Glidden and, in that truncated first season, scored twice in ten games. An injury crisis the following season saw him play briefly at centre-half before injuries of his own brought down the curtain on his top class career, moving on to Oakengates Town and then Hereford United.