HERE is yet another bunch of Albion rarities from the extensive collection of life-long fan Peter Hill of West Bromwich.
We've seen all manner of memorabilia over recent weeks and months which Peter has accumulated down the decades, and this first one, pictured on the right, dates from 1970.
As Peter recalls it, thousands of song sheets like the one shown here were printed up by the club and handed out one match day to all the home fans, in an attempt to launch an official club song for the terraces. At the top of the sheet it reads:
"This is West Bromwich Albion's Supporters' Song, written by Joe Henderson. Hear the music today and sing the words which, we hope, will echo round the ground wherever the Albion plays."
It was called Albion!, with lyrics by Henderson and Alan Martin, and went like this:
We're right behind you all the way.
Blue and white is always right for the champions!
ALBION! MARCHING ON!
Proud of our fighting history.
We're going to cheer you on today,
We'll back you all the way!
DEAR OLD AL-BI-ON ...
But the club's hopes of hearing it ringing round the ground whenever and wherever they played were dashed from the off. As Peter recalls, the music which was played to the fans before the game made little impression on them, and the second the teams ran out onto the pitch, thousands of these lyric sheets were thrown into the air like confetti, and not a note was sung.
As far as he remembers, the song was quietly forgotten after that – which probably makes this sheet quite a rare item.
Believe it or not, Peter also has copies of another six Albion, or at least Albion-related songs, though it's unlikely any of these were sung from the terraces either.
They are on three seven inch vinyl singles, and the earliest dates from 1968, the last time WBA won the FA Cup. Written by Ken Rattenbury, this record features two songs, Albion Day and Albion Way, both performed by Roy Edwards. Whether the composer was the same Ken Rattenbury who played jazz trumpet to national acclaim we have no idea, but it seems unlikely that a football song would be particularly jazzy in flavour – and we don't have a record player at Bugle House to try it out on.
Dating from three years later, 1971, is a solo single from Jeff Astle, released on RCA Records. Sweet Water was sung by the Baggies forward and produced by Don Paul and Carl Wayne; the latter being a one-time member of The Move, Birmingham's biggest band of the late 1960s.
The flipside Summer Sadness is credited, hopefully with tongue in cheek, to The Piano of Jeff Astle, and co-written by Carl Wayne.
The third of Peter's records is a bit more recent, dating from 1979. Issued on blue vinyl by Grandstand Records, it appears to show an airborne Cyrille Regis astride the label.
Sung by Ray King – and you can hear this one on a well-known internet video channel – it's a reggae tune not dissimilar to Wolves favourite The Liquidator, and features the following lyrics:
There's shooting stars
down West Bromwich Way
At The Hawthorns
the opposing team
Scoring goals like
you've never seen
It's a champagne team
for the everday fan
It's a jamboree
for the singing man
Singing for joy
and singing for goals
A special song
for those football souls.
Do you remember the Albion! song? Do you know who its writers Joe Henderson and Alan Martin were, and whether they had another go at a Baggies song? And do you have any other records from local clubs, celebrating their successes? Keep your football stories coming. Write in to the usual address, give us a call on 01384 567678, or email gjones@black countrybugle.co.uk.