West Bromwich Albion –v- Fulham at the Hawthorns, Saturday 24th September 2011.
On September 24th, Albion entertain Fulham at the Hawthorns, and much like last months Stoke City encounter, it is a fixture that through the years, hasn’t thrown up too many games that despite being entertaining, are particularly memorable. In the last few seasons, the departures of Zoltan Gera, Diomansi Kamara and Jonathan Greening to the West London outfit, are just about the only stories of interest that will ‘jog’ the Baggies followers memory banks. Certainly, their transfers have been more noteworthy than anything that has come to pass on the field of play in recent seasons.
1969-25.01-Fulham FAC-Asa Hartford scores
Mind you, trawling back though the history books, there are of course the games between the two sides that do stand out, especially from an ‘Albion’ point of view. League competition between the two sides goes back to the early 1900’s. 1907/08 in fact. Albion were promoted in 1948/49 as Runners up to the Cottagers, and Vic Buckingham of course, famously the manager when Albion hoisted the cup at Wembley in 1954, was to later manage Fulham, after leaving the Hawthorns.
The Baggies have on three occasions hammered six past the Fulham defence. November 1946 6-1, September 1962 6-1 and November 1965, when Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown grabbed a couple, along with Graham Lovett, ‘Chippy’ Clark and Ray Wilson in yet another resounding 6-2 victory.
1969-25.01-Fulham FAC4-Doug Fraser and Steve Earle
Bomber of course was a member of the cup side, that in a valiant effort to retain the trophy they had won at Wembley in May 1968, counted the ‘Cottagers’ as one of their victims in the clubs journey to the ill-fated Hillsborough clash again Leicester city. I managed to catch up with the Albion ‘legend’ and asked him for his recollections of that 1969 clash at Craven Cottage.
Bomber reflected. “I remember we beat Norwich City comfortably in the third round at the Hawthorns 3-0. Big Jeff scored a penalty, because I wasn’t playing due to injury. It got us off to a good start in retaining the trophy. Obviously you want a home draw every-time, and when we were drawn against Fulham, who, if I’m not mistaken were a second division side at the time, and right down the bottom of the table. We knew it was going to be a tough tie, because that was their season, that’s all they had to play for”
How tough was it, I asked the former Albion ‘goal poacher’
“Very tough. They put us under a lot of pressure early doors. Big T (John Talbut) made a bit of a muck up of a clearance, and their lad, I can’t remember who it was, cracked in a terrific shot which ‘Ossie’ (John Osborne) saved brilliantly. Then a few minutes after that Conway the Fulham inside forward, missed a ‘sitter’. To be fair, if the luck had been with them they could have been 2-0 up and we could have been out of the cup. But we weathered all their early pressure, and Asa put us in front after quarter of an hour, when he hit a loose ball on the turn which their keeper never saw. That was down to ‘Hopey’(Bobby Hope) who put over a super cross into the box, which the Fulham defence couldn’t deal with. Asa did the rest.”
What do you remember of Fulham’s equaliser, I asked ‘the Bomber’
“Not too much really. I know that after Asa had put us ahead, we had them on the run, and to be fair I couldn’t see them getting back into the game. I remember I had a header brilliantly saved by their ‘keeper, after ‘Hopey’ had swung another of those super balls into the box. I headed it just right, but somehow he turned it over. I thought it was in. Then Jeff headed Ian Collard’s cross down to me and I blasted it into the net, but the ref blew up for offside. Somehow they seemed to take heart from those incidents, because they were still in the game. Then my namesake, Stan Brown, headed home a corner for the equaliser.”
1969-The young Tony Brown-talks about Fulham in the cup
That must have been disappointing, I suggested.
“Yes it was, because, after those early exchanges Fulham weren’t really in it. Having said that, they must have been gutted, in the second half, when Conway I think it was blasted over from almost under the bar, how he missed it I’ll never know, but that happens, and from then on I think we had the game won. Hopey was brilliant, he was ‘pinging’ those balls in from just about everywhere, and we could have got a few more goals. I remember both Jeff and Asa having really good chances. Then their ‘keeper Williamson, I think it was, who had a great game, pulled off a stunning save from Dougie Fraser. Dougie got the ball on the outside of the 18 yard box and crashed in a thunderous drive, which their ‘keeper turned round the post.”
Eight minutes remaining and Ronnie Rees came on as sub for you, and gets the winner. What do you remember about going off? I asked
“Not a lot really. I got clattered in their box, I remember that much. Then Ronnie comes on and gets the winner with me off the field. I didn’t actually see the goal, because I was still being treated for the injury. It must have been his first kick to be fair!! We won that’s all that mattered, and we were still in the cup. The dream of retaining the trophy was still alive.”
Then the brilliant ‘run’ to the semi-final against Leicester City. That must have been heart wrenching to lose in the semi. I suggested, Especially after dominating the match from start to finish.
“It was awful, just awful. We had a really great run to the semi. We beat Arsenal at home next round, when I scored the only goal of the game. Then we had the terrific battle at Stamford Bridge, against Chelsea when Jeff and me got the goals that saw us through to Semi-Final. We were all convinced that we were going to Wembley again. How wrong can you be! ‘Sniffer’ Clarke popped up with the winner, and the dream was over. Still that’s football as they say.”
It certainly is, Thanks for your time Bomber, Hopefully we can beat Roy Hodgson’s old club at the Hawthorns and grab some much needed points.
“Yes, I’m looking forward to the game. We have had some good games against Fulham. They always seem to be open and entertaining contests. Both teams like to play the right way, and with Martin Jol returning, it is always nice to welcome former Albion players back to the Hawthorns. He will be made very welcome, but not too welcome, because we would like three points.”
Tony Brown/Laurie Rampling – September 2011