Albion in 100 objects

Many and varied are the pieces of memorabilia, art and general detritus that the football club has gathered about itself over the years. Over the next season or three, we are going to select some of these, in no particular order nor importance, to help tell a tale of Throstles down the years. It’s not a definitive history, might at times be apocryphal and at others completely fabricated, but these odd shafts of light will give you a sense of who we are and where we came from. Confused? You will be…

Episode One

Objects of desire these might be for the Throstletariat of a certain age, but for Tony Brown, these are relics that he has long been less keen on ever seeing again, reminding him, as they do, of one of the more bitter blows that he suffered during the great Albion career of them all.  

These are the garments worn by the great man at Highbury on April 8th, 1978, as we took on Ipswich town ion the semi-final of the FA Cup, a game that we were warm favourites to win and so provide Bomber, then approaching 33, with perhaps a swansong appearance at Wembley Stadium and a chance to win one last winner’s medal.

Those yellow and green stripes have long been rated as the most beloved of away kits amongst the Albion cognoscenti, worn in the promotion season of 1975/76 and then into consolidation and more back in the top flight. Such was the fashion cred – if such a phrase exists – of these threads though that Umbro took it a stage further for the big occasion and presented our gallant lads with tracksuits to wear when warming up ahead of the game.

You and I might look upon these button up jackets as choice Albion memorabilia these days but at the time, the players were less than enamoured with them and Tony himself recalls that they were all embarrassed to put them on and head out onto Arsenal’s neutral grass ahead of the game.

If so, then it was merely one more thing in a day where anything that could go wrong, did go wrong, right from the outset when, at dinner time, Ron Atkinson appeared on Football Focus making a pilgrimage to Wembley as preparation for final day itself. He maintained later that he was stitched up, that Ipswich boss Bobby Robson was supposed to do likewise, but no matter. When the Ipswich players watched that, their manager had little need of a team talk.

At least Tony’s shirt is relatively clean, unlike the blood caked relic that must ne knocking around John Wile’s house somewhere. A handful of minutes into the game, Ipswich were ahead through Brian Talbot who won a header and then smashed into Wile’s skull for good measure to score, opening it up for the next 90 minutes.

At 2-0 down, a late penalty from Bomber gave us hope ad I can still remember him charging back to the centre to kick-off again having scored, but Mick Martin was soon dismissed, the ten men let in a third goal and that was that.

Tony admits that it took him weeks to get over the disappointment of losing the game and that great side missed its best chance of silverware. Small wonder that eventually, they bulldozed Highbury into oblivion. 

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