As the current crop of Albion players slumped to the bottom of the Championship yesterday, with one foot apparently dangling dangerously in the trapdoor of the third tier of English football next season, our former playing heroes, who are of course all part of the best Former playing Association in these modern times, put on an FPA ‘supershow’ on both sides of the shrine, in both the East stand suites and of course the Association’s spiritual home “The Regis Suite”.
ANOTHER FORMER PLAYERS ASSOCIATION EXTRAVANGANZA
It’s difficult to know where to start and what to say about the performance of the current side against, it has to be said an excellent ‘Blades’ side from Bramall Lane, who just swept aside a sadly inept Albion team, as the Football nation watched on thanks to Sky coverage, but it has to be said, every member of the Association inside the ground, made up for what has to be the most disappointing afternoon in modern history, with the ‘Throstles’ now five points adrift of safety and unbelievably rooted at the bottom of the table.
In the East stand, Bernard Macnally and Ian Hamilton, who both have vivid memories of the last time Albion were playing in the third tier of football, back in the early nineties, joined up with Derek Monaghan and Stacy Caldicott to provide top class pre-match and post-match entertainment for the Albion Corporate faithful, and over in the Regis Suite, Chairman Ray Wilson, Secretary Geoff Snape and Treasurer Norman Westbury, entertained a gallery of football ‘greats’, with legendary, ‘Villa slayer’ Jack Lovatt, now a sprightly 81 year old, (remember his winner at Villa Park back in 1961!), joined by wife Sue, absolute legend Ally Robertson (626 first team appearances for the club), seventies utility forward Dave Butler, who went on to play in the States, alongside a certain Brazilian superstar named ‘Pele’ no less, and a few others, and a pleasure to welcome Dr Ian Smith, a Scottish centre forward who travelled down to Birmingham City in the early seventies to pal up with the ‘Prince of football’ ‘Sir’ Bobby Hope, before turning to a career in medicine, and ‘Smithy’ a most charming man, did the honours for the club and the Association by presenting the first of two caps to be presented in the suite before the game, to Diane Lester, the Great Grandaughter of George Timmins, who made his debut for the club way way back in 1888 against Derby County at Stoney Lane, before The Hawthorns even existed. Now that’s history…and Cap number 12…is now proudly in the families domain.
Cap number 324 was then presented to the family of Lawrence ‘LOL’ Coen, the only player of Jewish extraction to play for the club in its entire history, and made the first of his nine appearances for the club against Charlton Athletic back in 1937.
The afternoon was made even more memorable by the ‘Cameo’ visits, of the one and only Tony ‘Bomber Brown’ who never misses the opportunity to catch up with old friends, ‘AJ’ Andy Johnson, on his way up to the commentary gallery, Don Goodman, on duty of course with Sky and another great football man, the ‘Barnsley’ Irishman, Mr Mick McCarthy, with a late late appearance from David Ashman, the son of Cup winning manager Alan Ashman, and now very much a valued member of the Association.
As usual it was great to catch up with the other truly important match day staff and stewards on my ‘Hawthorns’ go round, but I’m extremely pleased that healthwise after a bit of a struggle, I am getting back to normal…Slowly!!
So….We do it all again on Tuesday evening, with a cap presentation to the family of Jimmy Cookson, who scored no fewer than 110 goals in 131 first team appearances for Albion, including SIX in a 6-3 victory over the evening opponents Blackpool, back in 1927. if the new Albion manager can get a performance like that out of one of the ‘Throstles’ on duty on Tuesday night, then we will all have something to cheer about.