Club News

Happy Igor Balis Day

“Myers’ challenge, Taylor goes down, and the team that just miss penalties for fun now have one of the most vital in their history.”

The time is approaching 5pm on Saturday, April 13, 2002 - some 18 years ago today. Albion are drawing 0-0 at Bradford City and are in desperate need of a win that will keep daylight between themselves and promotion-rivals Wolves. 

Gary Megson’s side, built on resilience, bloody-mindedness and a you-shall-not-pass defence, have been appalling from spot-kicks all season. 

Unbelievably, the Baggies have missed eight of their previous 11 penalties!

But, to keep destiny in their own hands, they have one last chance to strike from 12 yards and there could hardly be any more pressure on the man stepping up to take it. 

Bob Taylor, who is receiving treatment has already missed, Neil Clement who made it look so easy from free-kicks has already had his share of failures from the spot, so who would take what remains the most important of penalties?

Igor Balis, the Slovakia international full-back, had earlier lied to Megson that he was prolific from the penalty spot - even though he later admitted this was fiction. 

And yet up he stepped, with thousands of Baggies willing him on behind the goal. 

“There will be some fans that don’t look, there will be some players that don’t look,” says commentator Alistair Mann as he describes the action at Valley Parade. 

Referee Mike Dean has the whistle in his hand as the Albion fans deliver an encouraging chorus of “Igor! Igor! Igor!” from the away end.

“And he’s tucked it in. Look at the scenes. A win on the final day and promotion to the Premiership is theirs. Unbridled joy, has a penalty ever meant so much to West Bromwich Albion?”

The rest, as they say, is history…