WE FEATURED, on page 2 of our 14th June edition, a cherubic young lad in Albion stripes, along with the scantest of information.
All we knew for sure was that his name was John Tromans and that he was the club's mascot in 1953.
In the wake of that picture's appearance we've been contacted by several readers who remembered him, or knew him personally. Eric Parkes, for instance, told us: "When I was a young boy I used to watch West Bromwich Albion every home match and I used to see John Tromans run out onto the pitch in front of Len Millard the Albion captain. I also, in my teens, worked with John and have kept in touch for many years."
We then got to hear that the former mascot lived these days out in the Shropshire countryside but paid regular visits to his old haunts; and then to our surprise and delight he appeared at Bugle House, armed with the scrapbook his mother Edith had assembled over fifty years ago. Naturally, our first question was, how did he come to be a mascot at at time when most clubs didn't have one, let alone a turnover of one per player per week like today? "I think it came about by my dad buying me an Albion strip and saying 'get on there!' I just went onto the pitch in my strip and ran out in front of the team, uninvited.
I was unofficial at first, but then the supporters club approached my dad about making me the official mascot.
And I never missed a home or away match in years.
If we were playing Sunderland or Newcastle, we'd have to leave on the Friday dinnertime.
It went on for years, until about 1958 or 59.
Cuttings "There was the odd mascot with some of the other teams, but they weren't the done thing like they became later."
The earliest cutting from the scrapbook documents John's first appearance on the Hawthorns pitch. An unidentified newpaper wrote ...
"The team were greeted by a 'two foot nothing' youngster in a miniature Albion kit, correct down to the football boots. He presented a lucky horseshoe to Joe Kennedy, and a sweet to each player.
"In return, Joe got the penny used for the toss-up, ran behind the goal just before the kick-off, and handed it to the proud fouryear- old mascot."
The lucky horseshoe clearly worked, as another cutting from the album, dating from September 1953, and taken from the Soccer Star, commented on the positive effect the now six-year-old Johnny was having on the Baggies' performances. This article, which was the origin of the photograph which appeared in the Bugle's article of 14th June, read: "Six year old Johnny Tromans is well known to all West Bromwich Albion supporters.
He should be, for he is the club's mascot, and as such we feel he should qualify as a contender for our Junior Champ title. Just to stimulate the Albion players' morale Johnny runs on with the team, gives them chewing gum, and then shakes hands with the ref and each captain.
He gets the penny as a souvenir.
"Does Johnny fulfil a useful purpose? I'd say he does, judging by the Midland team's terrific record this season to date."
By 1954, with young Johnny's help, the Albion were flying even higher.
Right up there at the top of the table, battling it out for the title with in-form Wolves, they had their eye on the double.
When they reached the semi-final of the FA Cup, playing against Port Vale at Villa Park, such was the excitement that someone in the crowd had fashioned their own cup — mostly out of lead, being soft enough to mould into shape. Unfortunately for John, it weighed a ton, and when it was passed through the crowd and down to him to hold at pitchside for a picture, he could barely lift it.
Wembley Though taking your own cup to the semi-final may have been tempting fate, the lead trophy caused the Albion no problems. Despite going behind in the first half, they ended the game 2-1 winners to book their place at Wembley.
John of course was with the team every step of the way, but there was to be a shock disappointment for him when he got to the home of football for the cup final, where the FA Cup was to be presented to the winners by the Queen Mother. The Wembley bosses wouldn't allow John onto the pitch, mascot or not. But the Albion manager, who must have had plenty to think about that day, made sure John's day wasn't spoiled.
"Vic Buckingham took me out so that I could touch the edge of the pitch with my foot."
John remembers. "And he said 'if we win the cup today I'll bring it up to your house.'" Win it they did of course, beating Tom Finney's Preston North End 3-2. This was West Bromwich Albion's greatest ever season; their fourth FA Cup in the bag and a second place finish in the league, just behind rivals Wolves. But in all the excitement Vic Buckingham remained true to his word.
"We lived at 34 Westgate Road, which was a prefab."
says John. "And sure enough, two black limousines came up with the FA Cup. The press came with them as well. The picture (reproduced on the opposite page) was taken in the front room.