Clocking up the milestonesStatistically speaking, this has already been a big season for many members of the Albion dressing room, with plenty more milestones in the offing for a few of them to boot.
Last Saturday, Gareth McAuley clocked up his 200th appearance for the Throstles when he took to the field at White Hart Lane and, if selected to start on Saturday, it will be the Northern Irishman’s 200th start for the club, having only once appeared from the bench. He’s now played 495 senior games in English football now, 445 of them in the league.
Plenty of Gareth’s starts have come alongside the big Swede, Jonas Olsson, who has been busily accumulating milestones of his own. Jonas has gone past 250 appearances for the club and has now clocked up 200 games in the Premier League too, starting 194 of them. He’s currently just six games short of 250 league appearances for us too.
It’s been a big year for our stalwart defenders for earlier this season, Craig Dawson racked up his 100th Premier League game and then his 100th Premier League start, all of them coming for the Albion of course. Why play anywhere else after all? Actually, he has, meaning that the King of Rochdale is on 241 career club appearances going into the weekend.
Big Ben is ticking off the milestones in goal as well, Foster making his 150th appearance for us and then going past 150 in the Premier League alone in the run up to Christmas. Three more league appearances and that will be a career total of 300 for him.
Meanwhile, Jonny Evans has now knocked off a half century of Albion appearances and is about to clock up that number of league games in the colours too. Beyond that, he’s only seven short of his 200th Premier League game across his career. And Allan Nyom will soon be racking up his 50th Premier League game in his two seasons in this country too – he’s on 48 at present.
Up top, Salomon Rondon now has over 50 games for the Albion and more than 50 Premier League appearances in the bank too, while James McClean has also sailed past those club milestones, as well as banking his 100th Premier League appearance to boot, covering his time with us and Saturday’s visitors.
Nacer Chadli also celebrated 100 Premier League appearances just before Christmas, while Matt Phillips has now scored 51 senior goals in his career and is just two starts away from making it 200 in the league across his career.
The engine room has been busy has well. Claudio Yacob is rapidly closing in on 150 games for the Throstles with just six to go and skipper Darren Fletcher recently made the 250th Premier League start of his career and is only three away from 300 appearances in this division in total as he looks to clock up the 75th consecutive league start of his time at The Hawthorns against the Black Cats. Darren also went past 400 senior club appearances earlier this term and is just five starts away from 350 for us and Manchester United.
And finally, let us turn to the great stalwarts of the cause, Chris Brunt and James Morrison. At Spurs last weekend, Brunt made his 300th league appearance for the Albion and his 200th Premier League start and has also gone past 400 senior starts in his career this term.
Meanwhile, Morrison now has 296 Albion appearances to his name and, across his career here and at Middlesbrough, he has moved on to 291 Premier League games. He has also made a total of 297 senior starts for the two clubs across all competitions and he’s on 393 club appearances in total.
Those are some pretty remarkable records, underlining the contribution made to the club – and the wider game - by a pretty special generation of footballers who have put this football club back on the map again.
They are our best collection of footballers in a third of a century, a period where the game’s landscape has changed beyond recognition, yet they have been able to put a tiny town, disregarded, forgotten – or conveniently ignored - by the nation in almost every other respect, at the forefront of the country’s conversation by placing us in the top half of the toughest league in the world.
Gentlemen, we salute you.