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Feature

Albion in 100 objects: Episode Three

20 September 2018

Many and varied are the pieces of memorabilia, art and paraphernalia 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 Three 

SILVER POT PRESENTED BY GRASSHOPPER CLUB ZURICH, 16 SEPTEMBER 1981

Some 37 years ago, almost to the day, we picked up a rare piece of silverware in Zurich, though, sadly, not for winning anything. 

Indeed, this little chalice that we brought home from the land of the cuckoo clock really signifies the beginning of the end of the glory days and the first truly significant step into the wilderness that engulfed us for nigh on 20 years. 

The UEFA Cup game with Grasshoppers of Zurich remains our last flirtation with European football and it was the dampest of squibs with which to end such an occasionally glorious relationship. 

As we headed over the Alps, the Albion was already in ferment. Manager Ron Atkinson had walked out on the club that summer, heading off to take over at Manchester United, in itself a hefty loss to the Baggies. But our woes did not end there for with the proverbial bulging chequebook, Atkinson was looking covetously in our direction and particularly towards the magnificent fulcrum of our team, Bryan Robson.

Robson was keen to go – as was his midfield colleague Remi Moses – and matters were further complicated by Albion’s need to fund the rebuilding of the Halfords Lane stand, making United’s gradually escalating offers look ever more enticing.

Essentially, the club concluded that Robson would remain at the Albion as long as we remained in the UEFA Cup and so he and Moses formed part of the squad that played in Zurich on that September evening. The game was far from disastrous as we held out for a 1-0 defeat in Switzerland, a scoreline that seemingly set up a humdinger of a second leg at The Hawthorns. 

That never materialised, for an Albion outfit that had won just one of its first seven league games was scratching around for form, demoralised by the storm raging around them and by the sword of Damocles that hung over them in Europe, Robson’s named etched onto the blade.

In short, it was a miserable night as Albion misfired and slumped to a 3-1 defeat, the consolation goal coming from the unlikely source of Alistair Robertson. Within days, Bryan Robson had been sold to Manchester United as part of a package deal with Moses as Albion broke one of football’s greatest commandments – don’t sell players unless you have something better to come in. We hadn’t and the rot had set in.


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