Many and varied are those Throstles, once pure and chaste in thought and deed, who have been tempted to walk the Mancunian way and head north to take on life at Manchester City, though not for a good while, more’s the pity, given the money they've got these days...
266+8 appearances, 26 goals
That said, when City splashed out £225,000 on Asa Hartford back in 1974, that genuinely was a fortune at the time, and all the more so since a proposed move to Leeds United a couple of years earlier had been kiboshed by the discovery of a pinprick hole in Hartford’s heart at the medical, cue a lifetime of gags about Asa being a wholehearted competitor.
That was actually true for Hartford was a fiery character who, during his Albion career, was noted for his ability to start a riot whenever we set foot outside the country, while a touch of flamboyance saw trying to emulate Alan Ball’s famous white boots by painting his own black ones, the paint flaking off during the course of a game.
The youthful Hartford was a terrific player to boot, whatever colour they were, skilful in the middle of the park, an obvious foil and, eventually, successor to Sir Robert Hope, whose family had played a part in Hartford coming down to God’s country in the first place.
Such was Asa’s self belief that he was hugely disappointed to miss out on a place on the bench at the 1968 FA Cup Final, having only made his first team debut three months earlier, totting up just four starts to the end of that season – he did eventually play for us at Wembley in the 1970 League Cup Final.
Still, there were to be plenty of glittering prizes ahead for him, including 50 caps for Scotland which included trips to two World Cups in the days when they used to qualify, and two League Cup winners’ medals, one each with City and Norwich, for whom he scored the winner in 1985. A 24 year playing career and approaching 900 games suggests that the hole his heart was merely there for ventilation purposes.
100 appearances, 22 goals
century. George had joined the Throstles from Birmingham City midway through the 1901/02 season as we clinched a return to the top flight by winning the Second Division at the first time of asking.thFrom the Black Country to Manchester via Dorset, twice. Or, more exactly, Dorsett, for both Joe and George Dorsett made the journey north in the early 20
George thrived in Division One the following year, scoring seven goals from his position on the left wing, repeating in 1903/04 as Albion were relegated again. Seven was clearly his lucky number as he scored that many in the first 13 games of the next season before City came in to take him back to the big time.
18 appearances, 3 goals
His younger brother Joe joined us from Brownhills Albion in 1907, but had to bide his time before following in George’s footsteps on the left flank, playing just 18 games in total before he also followed him to City at the end of the 1909/10 campaign when City won the Second Division and we ended up still stuck in it.
31 appearances, 6 goals
Sandwiched between those two moves was one for Bruce Rankin, who sounds as if he should have been in the outback wrestling kangaroos rather than in the Black Country scoring goals. Playing at outside-right after his move here from Everton, he knocked in five goals in 26 games and then moved to the First Division and Manchester City where he amassed the grand total of two games, both in February 1907.
63+11 appearances, 5 goals
39+2 appearances, 13 goals
Two émigrés to Manchester were both victims of the Ron Saunders cull of 1986 as Albion hurtled towards oblivion. Ferociously bearded Tony Grealish joined us from Brighton and was a solid enough performer in midfield for the proper Albion, as was striker Imre Varadi had been signed by John Giles to head up a reshaped Albion attack in the post-Regis era, teaming up with Garth Crooks and even in the midst of that horrific 1985/86 season, he did ok, helping himself to nine goals – not bad given we only got 35 in total. Such adventurousness was against the grain given Saunders’ antipathy towards crossing the halfway line and Varadi was away to Maine Road where he continued to knock in the goals and, allegedly, inspire the inflatable banana craze. Those were the days.