Putting bricks in the archive wall
Hopefully, you’ll have heard about Download Albion, the Albion archive project by now – you can catch up here if you haven’t.
If you want the gist though, its encapsulated in a quote I came across quite by chance in a book the other day: “What a shame it would be to let such a fascinating story just evaporate”.
The thing is, we’ve all got these fascinating stories, even if we don’t necessarily realise it because they just come out of our everyday experience and we treat them as such.
But around a football club, all human life is here, often in its most remarkable extremes, good and bad, stories that illuminate ourselves, our passions and our club.
Funny, sad, scary or simply a line scrawled on the fabric of time from a different age, it’s our duty not to simply let those fascinating stories “just evaporate” when we shuffle off the mortal coil and head for The Hawthorns in the sky where its always ten past three on a Saturday afternoon and we’ve just scored the third against the Wolves.
Download Albion has begun the monumental task of catching some of these tales, conducting the first few supporter interviews over the last few weeks, the first of what we hope will be an ongoing, probably never ending process.
Already we’ve uncovered stories of going to a game in a St John’s Ambulance, embarking on foreign tours just in case we beat Manchester City 9-2 again (long story), surviving the 5-5 while heavily pregnant, telling the tale to parents before bunking off to The Hawthorns and why certain players who leave us will and won’t be forgiven.
There’s plenty more besides, things you might think are mundane, but which are anything but and which will become less and less so as the years pass. We’re gathering social history here, we’re talking about how a community – our community – lived and lives.
And in 100 years when we’ve all evaporated - yes, even Gareth McAuley - these stories, these voices, are going to echo down the ages to generations of your families yet unborn. After all, what are we if not the sum of all our experiences, our ideas, our stories?
So if you’ve been coming to The Hawthorns since the war, or if you’ve only just begun, there is something in your experience to pass down to the future in this Albion time capsule, the only one of its kind in English football.
So are you ready? Over the course of the summer, we are going to try to set up recording days at The Hawthorns, times where you come in, we interview you and your story goes into the vaults. It’s not about the players you love and the ones you don’t, it’s about you, your family, your friends, about coming to games, the how, the why and the what you do and did.
Above all, it’s about forming a picture of why that rectangle of grass that sits inside the stands we’ve knocked down and rebuilt many a time, is the focal point of West Bromwich, why it is at the centre of what we are about. Your great-great-great-grandkids might want to know. And you can tell them. Don’t let those tales evaporate.
If you want to register your interest in being interviewed – come on, don’t be shy - email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Download Albion” as the subject header or write to me at The Hawthorns and we’ll get a plan together.