‘Very much a leader, someone never frightened to dig somebody out when it needed it, he commanded respect too, not out of fear but out of recognition that whatever he was saying was for the good of the team’
From the very outset, it was clear that John Wile was captaincy material. Brought into the football club in December 1970 from lowly Peterborough United, joining a side that routinely competed for cup finals and had been a fixture in the First Division for decades, the 23 year old Wile took to the new surroundings immediately, slotting in at centre-half in succession to John Talbut and looking born to do the job.
Coming from the lower leagues to join a successful dressing room, full of giant characters such as John Kaye, Jeff Astle and Sir Robert Hope was no easy endeavour, but Wile was assimilated into the group almost immediately and quickly made it apparent that he was going to be at the heart of the Albion side for years to come.
Very much a leader, someone never frightened to dig somebody out when it needed it, he commanded respect too, not out of fear but out of recognition that whatever he was saying was for the good of the team. He could speak his mind fearlessly too. I can’t think of too many other players who, when dropped by John Giles for being out of form, would have responded with, “That’s fair enough, but what about yourself? You’re not playing very well either.”
Wile was brought to The Hawthorns by Alan Ashman but, within months, he was replaced by Don Howe, a move which ultimately backfired for the club in the short-term but which was ultimately of huge benefit to Wile – and his defensive partner Alistair Robertson – and put in the foundations upon which Giles and then Ron Atkinson later built. For while they played in an era that was to become synonymous with Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham, Tony Brown, Willie Johnston, Bryan Robson and Derek Statham, it was the rock solid defensive platform that Wile and Robertson offered that was really the launching pad for Albion’s magnificent football that so illuminated the late 1970s.
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The Football League resumed just as this season will end, with the Throstles winging their way to Swansea, albeit that back on August 31st 1946, Swansea City were then still just a Town, playing their football on the Vetch Field rather than the Liberty Stadium.
Middlesbrough v Albion
We’ve been here before – notably at Hull and Sunderland – but the conundrum is, was this a point won or two spilled.
Chairman - John Williams
Things get taken for granted very quickly in football, such that very often, credit doesn’t get dished out when it’s due.
Jonny Evans - the way he plays . . .
The transfer market. It’s a difficult beast to handle, one fraught with danger, however good your research, however smartly you approach it. There’s always another club looking to steal a player from under your nose, or the player who looks a sure fire winner only to fail once a move is made. You can bring ten new faces in and watch them queue up to flop, or place your eggs in a solitary basket and still be crossing your fingers as the contract is inked.
albion v derby county
this was a 90 minutes that did have all the hallmarks of a classic fa cup tie but unfortunately those hallmarks tend to include the big club losing out to the smaller one after an impassioned rearguard action, helped by a healthy dose of (mis) fortune. on that score, this was the kind of game that has given the fa cup its huge reputation both in this country and around the world, but to be honest, we’d have much preferred a quiet, uneventful afternoon where, in the finish, the form book was upheld.
‘We were pleased that the supporters at least had something to take home with them after following us in such good numbers in terrible conditions’
Albion v Stoke City
Given the demise of alternative football clubs in the locality, Stoke has become our de facto derby game these days and did this one ever live up to that kind of billing, a feisty, feverish, blood and guts encounter that included home heroes, pantomime villains and a fairytale ending where we all lived happily ever after. Or at least the ones who count did – us.
Albion v Sunderland
It’s a mark of Albion’s growing confidence, maturity and, overall, quality that without ever really getting close to our best form, and coming out of the shadow of consecutive defeats, this win over Sunderland was every bit as routine for us as Manchester United’s was for them when they were at The Hawthorns before Christmas.
‘We have given ourselves a chance of having our best season in the Premier League era, and we really want to capitalise on that opportunity over these next three months’
Albion V Crystal Palace
The problem with getting used to the finer things in life is that if, on occasion, you are deprived of them, it stings all the more. And that’s exactly what happened against Palace for, after an amazing run of seven home wins in eight Premier League games at The Hawthorns, a run where we’ve been scoring goals and creating chances aplenty, this was one of those afternoons where we could have played until Sunday and still not scored.
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