Each month we take a look at an
Albion ‘programme from the past’. A number of the programmes will be rarities, allowing a much wider audience to view them, perhaps for the very first time.
v West Bromwich Albion, John Relish Testimonial, Somerton Park, Friday 3rd
Albion’s Capital One Cup tie with
Newport County later this month,
we take a look at the programme from the last time the two clubs met each other,
a testimonial game for County defender John Relish back in August 1984 at
Perhaps rather fitting for the occasion the home side beat
the Baggies 2-1 in front of 1,535 fans. Steve Hunt scored
Albion’s solitary goal.
The visitors lined up as follows: Godden, Whitehead, Statham
(Lewis), Hunt, McNaught, Bennett (Robertson), Grealish, Thompson, Regis (Cross),
The programme for the game usually changes hands for a couple
of pounds and is not particularly rare.
Relish began his playing career as a schoolboy with
Liverpool before joining Chester
City as an apprentice. He left City in 1974 to join
and would go on to spend the next thirteen years of his career at Somerton Park.
In 1986 Relish actually had a short spell as County
player/manager, a role he returned to in June 1989. Relish’s return coincided
with the reformation of the club following the original club’s demise in
February of that year due to bankruptcy.
Relish remained as manager until 1993, having played his part
in Newport’s renaissance by leading them to promotion from the Hellenic
Albion travelled to South Wales
full of optimism for the season ahead. The return of Johnny Giles as manager six
months earlier had raised hopes that the club could once again challenge for
silverware. Giles’ first spell as manager from 1975-77 had been a huge success,
having led the club to promotion from the second division and then achieving a
7th place finish back in the top-flight. There would however be no fairytale
return for the Irishman.
Although the club went on to finish the 1984/85 season in a
fairly respectable 12th place, many felt the club were not progressing. The sale
of the hugely popular striking duo of Cyrille Regis and Garry Thompson didn’t go
down well with supporters and even though they were eventually replaced prior to
the 1985/86 season by Imre Varadi and Garth Crooks, the decision to sell the
pair remains to this day a dreadful and short-sighted decision.
Giles would last just 10 league games into the 1985/86
season, nine of which were defeats. He would be replaced by Nobby Stiles but
results did not pick up as expected and Stiles would himself be replaced by Ron
Saunders in February.
Generally classed as
Albion’s worst season ever, the
club won just four league games all season and were relegated with a paltry
total of just 24 points.
Whilst Johnny Giles played a huge part in the club’s success
of the late 1970s, there can be no doubt he also played a part in the club’s
decline of the mid 1980s.
View the complete programme for the testimonial game here