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Wife's shock as I said I'm going to see Baggies play - by plane

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 20, 2013

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I WAS interested to read the story on the back page of The Bugle (November 28 edition), about West Bromwich Albion playing Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Cup in 1979.

I also attended the game, but unlike Peter Hill, I took the easy way and travelled by plane to the then Yugoslavia.

Older supporters will remember that in those days away travel was organised by a Mr Des O'Connor, who owned a travel agents in Carters Green, West Bromwich, and a fleet of motor coaches, trading as Sealandair, and a flight to the game in Belgrade was arranged, using a Yugoslavia airline.

On learning about the trip I telephoned my wife and told her that the Albion were playing away in an evening cup match, and had we got any arrangements on the date in question? We had not, and she asked if I was going by coach or in the car.

Imagine her surprise when I said it was by plane. On arrival at Birmingham Airport the aeroplane had the legend J A T on the tail, which was immediately taken to mean Jetset Albion Travellers.

Before the game some of us spent time in a local bar restaurant with Red Star fans.

One of them asked to buy my Albion scarf and I offered to swap with his.

He refused and persisted to offer me money for mine, so a deal was done.

I discovered, through an English speaking local, that the reason he would not swap was because he wanted to make the point that he would not part with the scarf of his beloved team at any price.

This was the longest journey I ever made to see Albion play, but with the pre-match tours arranged these days the world is the oyster of today's travelling army of fans.

In the photograph of the team alighting from the aircraft in The Bugle , I think I am correct in saying that the person at the bottom of the steps immediately in front of Laurie Cunningham is a very young David Matthews, the kit man who served Albion so well for so long.

Ray Summerfield,

57 Greenwood Road,

Aldridge,

Walsall.

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