In April 1976, Johnny Giles, Albion’s inspirational player manager, embarked with his team on a journey to the North West and a little football outpost at Boundary Park, Oldham, for a game that would define the history of West Bromwich Albion for at least a decade going forward and provide a platform for the many promotions enjoyed in the club’s future including Slavan Bilic’s wonderful achievement this season, with a return to the Premiership.
When Giles took over at the helm of the football club following Don Howe’s dismissal, the Hawthorns was a place filled with doom and gloom with little hope, it seemed, of a recovery anytime soon but suddenly the ‘Father’ of West Bromwich Albion, new Chairman Bert Millichip, had a brilliant ‘lightbulb moment’ and managed to persuade Giles, who was coming to the end of his career at Leeds United following Don Revie’s appointment to the management of the national side, to take over at The Hawthorns and rebuild the club, which he did, from top to bottom, in one glorious season, with promotion following an epic victory at Oldham, turning this small hamlet of Mancheter into a veritable sea of ‘green and yellow’.
It was a campaign that looked anything but a promotion tale, when after ten games the team was rooted in the bottom three of the Second Division, but slowly and surely the players bought into the ways and values of their inspirational manager and won a glorious return to the top flight of the English game after a three season hiatus, with a goal from the club’s all time legend and hero Tony Brown, just yards away from where he was born at Boundary Park hospital. As Tony recalls in the book, “You could not write a script” for such a story, and describes his emotions in a hand-written forward at the beginning of this promotion diary.
The new book, written by Former Players Association historian Laurie Rampling, follows the fortunes of the team, the players and the fans through thick and thin, on a journey of a lifetime, from the depths of despair to ultimate joy on a sunny April afternoon in the North West, when hopes were transformed to reality. Lavishly illustrated, with many previously unseen photographs, the book can be purchased from ‘www.Curtis Sport’ publications on-line, for £12 with all profits going to the club’s own charity, the ‘Albion Foundation’ and the ‘Former Players Association’ who like so many good causes are struggling for the funds they so desperately need at this time of world wide uncertainty. Should anyone have difficulty ordering a copy, please feel free to contact Laurie on 07909985343…..Happy Reading!