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.

Ipswich Town v West Bromwich Albion, League Division One, Portman Road, Saturday 28th September 1963

Saturday 28th September 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of a true legend of West Bromwich Albion Football Club - Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown.

Tony, who was born in Oldham, Lancashire, on October 3rd 1945, grew up as a Manchester United fan, becoming a regular on the terraces at Old Trafford. Despite being a ‘red’ however, he almost signed for arch-rivals Manchester City, actually verbally agreeing to sign for the men from Maine Road. Luckily for Albion, one of their scouts - John Shaw, persuaded 15 year-old Tony to travel down to the Midlands for a trial, a trial in which he impressed. He was quickly offered a contract with Albion, which he agreed to sign as an apprentice professional, officially joining the club on April 13 1961.

Tony spent the first two years of his Hawthorns career playing, and scoring, in the club’s reserve and youth sides, alongside the likes of Bobby Hope, Graham Lovett and Mickey Fudge. After impressing new manager Jimmy Hagan sufficiently, September 1963 finally saw Tony offered the professional contract he so desired.

Within days of becoming a professional Tony would be thrust into first team action, making his debut at the age of 17 at Portman Road against Ipswich Town whilst deputising for the ill Eddie Readfern. Tony started his career how it would generally continue - with a goal, helping the Baggies to a 2-1 win. Two weeks later, Tony made his second appearance and his Hawthorns debut, against old rivals Aston Villa. Again Tony would find the net, this time in in a 4-3 victory.

Tony would finish the 1963/64 season with five goals from 13 league games, a record he bettered the following season with nine from 17 although the second half of the 1964/65 season would see him return to reserve team football after the arrival of Jeff Astle from Notts County.

The 1965/66 season saw Tony finally become a first team regular, hitting 27 goals in all competitions, including one in the second leg of the League Cup Final against West Ham United at The Hawthorns, a game Albion won 4-1 to lift the trophy 5-3 on aggregate.

The subsequent seasons would see the goals continue to fly in and a FA Cup medal won. His 100th goal for the club came in a league match away at Sunderland in September 1969. The 1970/71 season saw Tony hit 28 league goals to become only the fifth Albion player to finish a season as the First Division's leading goalscorer. He would be rewarded for his scoring exploits with his England debut in May 1971 in a game against Wales at Wembley. The game, which ended goalless, would remarkably become Tony’s one and only senior England appearance.

The early to mid 1970s saw Albion decline, with the club suffering relegation to the Second Division in 1973. Tony however continued to be amongst the goals, his 200th Albion goal coming against Aston Villa at Villa Park in March 1974. Two months later Tony was rewarded for his service to the Baggies with a testimonial match. The game, which would be unthinkable these days, featured a combined Albion and Aston Villa XI versus a combined Wolves and Birmingham City XI. The Albion/Villa combination would win the game 2-1, with Tony naturally on the scoresheet.

The arrival of Johnny Giles as player/manager for the 1975/76 season would see the Baggies' fortunes improve. Despite a poor start to the season Giles' men would clinch promotion on the final day with a 1-0 win at Oldham, Tony fittingly scoring the goal which lifted Albion back into the 'big-time'.

Albion finished the 1976/77 season in a creditable 7th position but Giles would leave at the end of the season to be replaced by former Albion great Ronnie Allen. Allen would be in charge for just six months before he himself was replaced by Ron Atkinson. Tony flourished under both managers though and finished the season with 23 league and cup goals.

The 1978/79 season would be the last good season Tony would have at The Hawthorns and what a season it was. Challenging for the First Division title for the majority of the season, enjoying success in the UEFA Cup and playing some of the best football the club ever had, the season and team would go down in Baggies' folklore. It was also a momentous season for Tony, the 3-1 win at Leeds in October would see him hit his 209th league goal for Albion, breaking the record of his former boss Ronnie Allen.

Tony would start the 1979/80 season in the team but increasingly found goals difficult to come by. He would score his last first class goal for the club - his 279th - on January 8 in a 2-1 defeat at West Ham United in a FA Cup 3rd round replay. His last competitive appearance for Albion came four days later as a substitute in a league match at Nottingham Forest.

Although still under a long-term contract to Albion, Tony would spend the late spring and summer of 1980 playing in the American NASL for the New England Teamen. He would return to The Hawthorns for start of the 1980/81 season and would feature in a number of friendly and reserve team games but his league days were over. His last ever appearance in first team action would come in a friendly match at Poole Town in February 1981.

The summer of 1981 would see Tony spend another spell in the States with the 'Teamen', who had by this time relocated to Jacksonville. He returned to Albion, who were once again under the leadership of Ronnie Allen, at the start of the 1981/82 season. Whilst Tony was happy to remain at The Hawthorns until the end of his contract, the club and Allen were not willing to let that happen. After basically being forced out of the club Tony left for Fourth Division Torquay United. His first season at Plainmoor saw him finish as top scorer but the 1982/83 season didn't go so well. He made just four first team appearances before calling a day on his league career. A very short spell in non-league football at Stafford Rangers followed but in April 1983 Tony hung up his boots for good.

After leaving Stafford he worked full-time as a sales representative before a phone-call from Johnny Giles, who had returned to Albion as manager in February 1984, led to Tony returning to football and the Baggies. Tony initially worked in the club's youth system before joining the first team coaching staff prior to the 1985/86 season. The season was a disaster for the club, Giles leaving in September to be replaced by Nobby Stiles who himself was replaced in February 1986 by Ron Saunders. Tony would leave the club at the end of the season and would then spend a short spell on the coaching staff at Birmingham City but after leaving St Andrews his involvement in football came to an end - almost. Tony, who enjoyed a long-overdue second testimonial game in 1999, this time against the Jamaican national team, is now a regular and popular summariser on local radio covering Albion games.

The 20 page programme for Tony's debut game at Ipswich, pictured above left, can usually be bought for around £2-3.

View the complete programme here

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