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.

West Bromwich Albion v Derby County, Pre-Season Friendly, The Hawthorns, Wednesday 17th August 1988

On July 27, Albion travel to Pride Park to take on Derby County as part of their pre-season friendly schedule. The game takes place 25 years on from another meeting of the two sides in friendly action which came at The Hawthorns in August 1988.

The Baggies’, with Ron Atkinson in charge, put up a valiant effort but lost 4-3 against a First Division County side who included England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. New signing, South African striker John Paskin, hit the first two Albion goals, one of which was a spectacular long range effort, whilst captain Brian Talbot hit Albion’s third.

Albion lined up for the game with the following side: Naylor, Hodson, Albiston, Talbot, Dyson, Burrows, Hopkins, Paskin, Gray, Palmer, Anderson. Sub. North.

Even though the 1987/88 season had seen the club narrowly avoid relegation to the Third Division, optimism was high amongst Baggies’ supporters who believed the return of ‘Big Ron' would see the club’s fortunes dramatically improve.

Atkinson’s men however did not get their season off to the best of starts. A respectable 1-1 draw away at Leicester City on the opening day of the season was followed by a 1-0 defeat at The Hawthorns by Watford and then a disastrous 3-0 defeat at home to Fourth Division Peterborough United in the Littlewoods Cup.

Results soon picked up though, a 3-1 win over Swindon and a 2-0 victory in the Littlewoods Cup return leg at Peterborough was the start of a six game unbeaten run. The club would be rocked however in October with Atkinson walking out on the club for a second time.

Ever since Atkinson had returned to the club in September 1987, it had been suggested that as soon as a ‘big’ club came in for the former Manchester United boss he would be off, a view that was confirmed when Spanish side Atletico Madrid made their approach.

Experienced midfielder Talbot was the man then Chairman John Silk turned to, initially in a caretaker manager role. The former Arsenal man got off to a fantastic start with a 4-1 win over Birmingham City at St Andrews. That victory was followed by consecutive wins over Bradford City, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers  and Oxford United. The club’s board had no choice but to give Talbot and his assistant Stuart Pearson the roles permanently.

The club’s good run under Talbot continued and included a thrilling 5-3 win over Crystal Palace and a 6-0 crushing of Stoke City. The star man of the first half of the season was without doubt striker Don Goodman. The former Bradford man had struggled to make a real impression at The Hawthorns prior to the 1988/89 season but a run of 11 goals in 11 games from November onwards had turned Albion into genuine promotion contenders and Goodman into one of the division’s most feared strikers.

At the turn of the New Year Albion were sitting pretty in second place looking good for promotion but defeat in a FA Cup replay against Everton would be the start of a downturn in form and results. Injuries to key men Goodman and Colin Anderson also contributed to a run of just six wins in the last 22 games. Talbot’s men would finish the season in a hugely disappointing ninth place.

Derby meanwhile enjoyed a great season, finishing fifth in the First Division under the leadership of Arthur Cox.

The 16 page programme for the game between Albion and County cost 50p on the night and nowadays normally sells for a couple of pounds.

View the complete programme here

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