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BOWLER’S DELIVERY: Happy WBA day

28 September 2016

Declare a bank holiday, it’s a day to remember

is an auspicious date in our history, especially when it comes to debuts.thIt’s a shame we haven’t got a game on tonight because as far as this football club goes, September 28


Two of our very finest footballers were introduced to the Albion first team on this very day in the past, anniversaries well worth marking.


Going all the way back to 1946 and the return of normal football to England’s green and pleasant land after the end of the war, the Throstles were in Division Two, still under the leadership of secretary / manager Fred Everiss. A young man from Swindon had already made his presence felt during wartime fixtures and now, eight games into the new season, he was ready for his debut proper.


Playing at inside-left as Albion reshuffled to cope with injury to Dave Walsh who had scored in each of his first six league games for the club, the great Ray Barlow made his Albion bow at Newport County’s Somerton Park.


It was a comfortable enough opening afternoon for Barlow who was on target for the Throstles on our way to a 7-2 win, Ike Clarke upstaging the debutant by knocking in four, a Billy Elliott strike and an own goal rounding off the win.


Barlow played 12 times that season, scoring four goals, but because of National Service duties, it wasn’t until 1949, by which time he was 23, that he became a fixture in the side, finally moving back into the left-half midfield role that he did so much to then define at the start of 1950/51. Ray finished up with 449 games and 36 goals – just imagine what those stats would have looked like had it not been for the war and his military service.


Some 17 years to the day after Barlow’s bow, the Albion headed off to Portman Road to take on Ipswich Town in a First Division game with a decimated forward line. With John Kaye and Eddie Readfern both missing, manager Jimmy Hagan fielded perhaps the smallest forward line in Albion’s history, the “mini marvels” as they became known: Kenny Foggo, Ronnie Fenton, Alec Jackson, Clive Clark and a debutant called up after training the previous day, Tony Brown.


You’ll have heard of the boy Brown, who went on to own virtually every record at the football club. He started precisely as he meant to go on, getting on the scoresheet as Albion continued our good opening to the 1963/64 campaign, winning 2-1 to go second in the league, only behind Manchester United, the team Tony supported as a youngster, on goal average.


After scoring on debut, he was promptly dropped, returning after a two game absence to score again as we beat the Villa 4-3. It was an in and out season as Jimmy Hagan gradually introduced him to the senior game, ending with five goals in 13 appearances. There were plenty more of both to follow.


And, in a debut of a different kind, on September 28th1943, Sir Robert Hope was born – he hadn’t got the knighthood then mind. Three men who would likely get into our all-time XI, with 1,571 games and 357 goals between them for the cause, all with special reason to remember this day.


So let us celebrate September 28th– national West Bromwich Albion day.


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