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BOWLER’S DELIVERY: They came from the Valleys…

A Welsh Albion XI for St David’s Day

It’s St David’s Day today and, with that in mind, with a daffodil in our buttonhole, a leek in our hearts – see a doctor if that persists - and a spring in our step, we present an Albion XI made in the Valleys. We’re going all fancy and playing 4-2-3-1. There’s lovely…

Millington was never quite able to establish himself at The Hawthorns in the early ‘60s, competing chiefly with Ray Potter or the goalkeeper’s jersey. One of many who fell out with Jimmy Hagan, though in his case, it was after rescuing him when his car tumbled into the canal at Spring Road. Having fished him out and helped carry him up the bank, Hagan noticed Millington was breathing heavily and assigned him extra training. 

STUART WILLIAMS: 246 games, 9 goals
An Albion man through and through who could play full-back on either side, Williams represented Wales at the 1958 World Cup finals when they reached the last eight, only to be defeated by eventual winners, Brazil. Unlucky to miss out on a playing role in the 1954 FA Cup final, Stuart did make it to Wembley in 1968 when he was a coach to the Albion team that carried off the cup. 

PAUL MARDON: 140+14 games, 3 goals
Captain Mardon, international. Mardon joined us from the Blues and slotted in at centre-half where he looked to be a terrific addition to the Albion side. Sadly, he was afflicted by a string of injuries over the years which prevented him ever quite fulfilling his great potential. Nonetheless, he was a popular figure with an Albion crowd who took to his footballing outlook as he tried to get Albion playing out from the back.  

JAMES CHESTER: 14+5 games, 0 goals
It was only a season long stay at The Hawthorns for James, a period when he largely played at full-back, but that season ended in style when he went to the Euros with Wales and enjoyed a fine tournament in the centre of their defence as they reached the last four of the competition. Like others before him, he w as ultimately defeated here by the longevity of the McAuley / Olsson axis and then by the arrival of Jonny Evans to boot.

GRAHAM WILLIAMS: 354+6 games, 11 goals
One of Albion’s greatest ever captains, Graham lifted the League Cup in ’66 and the FA Cup a couple of years later. Having started out as winger, Graham made his name at left-back where he was more than happy to follow the great defensive maxim that the opposition winger might get past him, the ball might get past him, but never both of them at the same time.

ANDY JOHNSON: 132+12 games, 8 goals
An industrious, here, there and everywhere midfielder, Andy Johnson had more energy to spare than probably any other player we’ve had here in the last 20 years – there was never a dull moment in his company. He was here in a suitably hectic time too, winning two promotions, playing his part in the Great Escape and baring his backside after scoring at the Brummie Road End and breaking his foot in the process. Typical Johnno…

JIMMY MURPHY: 228 games
Jimmy really made his name after the war when he joined Matt Busby in rebuilding Manchester United but before the war, he was an intelligent, uncompromising wing-half at The Hawthorns, succeeding Tommy Magee after the double winning season of 1930/31 and going on to play in the 1935 FA Cup final. Hard working, good in the tackle but with a good range of passing too, he was a top class performer for Albion. 

JASON KOUMAS: 120+21 games, 24 goals
The classic footballing enigma, Jason was a monumentally gifted player, perhaps a throwback to a different era, one where flair players weren’t required to run back towards their own goal as well. He scored a string of memorable goals for the Throstles and created plenty more but he was also a source of frustration for a number of managers who couldn’t get him to turn it on week after week. For all that, he was a supporter’s dream, the kind of player to get you out of your seat.

ROBERT EARNSHAW: 27+23 games, 17 goals
It was a fairly short stay for Robert Earnshaw at The Hawthorns, and a pretty up and down one at that. Ultimately, he will be best remembered for his telling contribution to the Great Escape season when his hat-trick from the bench in the 4-1 win at Charlton got us hoping and then his ice-cool penalty equaliser in the penultimate game at Old Trafford got us believing. 

DICK KRZYWICKI: 60+4 games, 12 goals
The son of Polish refugees, Dick Krzywicki made his name at the Albion as a flying winger who could overtake pigeons. He was unfortunate that much of his career coincided with that of Clive Clark and then with the “wingless wonders” era of football that followed England’s World Cup win in ’66. Nonetheless, he made his contribution to the Throstles as an important back up man through the glory days of the late ‘60s and came on at Wembley as a sub in the 1970 League Cup final. 

HAL ROBSON-KANU: 1+20 games, 1 goal
Albion’s current representative in the Welsh ranks and a man who will be able to point to THAT goal against Belgium in Euro 2016 as a calling card for the rest of his life. He has enjoyed a very successful career with Wales even aside from that goal and is getting an increasing number of opportunities to show his ability for Albion now, not least his hold up play which will be crucial in this Welsh line-up. 

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