A privilege last night to catch up with ‘707’ “The man from Down Under”, former Albion defender Jason Van Blerk, who travelled from his home in Australia, to pick up his club cap during last night’s game against Bristol City at The Hawthorns. I was able to catch up with Jason, who was signed by Manager Dennis Smith from Manchester City in 1998 and went on to make 121 appearances for the club, in his three year Hawthorns career, before teaming up with Richard Sneekes at Stockport County.

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Reprising the half time presentation, at the end of the game, Clive Whitehead doing the ‘honours’, was just part of another great evening for the Former Players Association, with Jason joining, Darryl Burgess, ‘Captain’ Paul Mardon…’International’ of course, and Clive Whitehead for the East Stand ‘duties’ ably supported by the ‘one and only’ MC John Homer.
On the other side of the Shrine, the Former Players Association Chairman Ray Wilson was joined by his ‘Celtic’ buddy Ally Robertson, sixties ‘hat-trick’ man Micky Fudge and Treasurer Norman Westbury in the Regis Suite, with cameo visits from Tony Brown, Andy Johnson and Tom Ross, which included a great gesture from the backroom staff, with a signed shirt presentation to Albion ‘superfan’ Liam McDermott, supported by his father, by Ally during the half time interval. It was all part of the evenings pageantry, spoiled only by former Albion ‘Boss’ Nigel Pearson, and his excellent Bristol City side, who picked up all three points with their 2-0 victory, my personal highlight of the evening, being my pre-match catch up with Nigel, without doubt in my opinion, one of Albion’s finest post war team manager’s, who orchestrated the 2005 ‘Great Escape’. That achievement has cemented Nigel into the Hawthorns folklore and must never be forgotten.
Also great to catch up with two very special gentlemen, who keep the ‘Shrine’ pitch in impeccable condition, Rob Lane, and Dave Beard.