Spyin Kop - West Brom (H) Sat 8th Nov

Posted by andythecatuk on November 5, 2008, 09:43:37 PM

Spyin’ Kop – Barclay's Premier League - West Bromwich Albion (H)

So, here I was, all about to start typing a doom and gloom introduction and the words made famous by Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, as we headed for two straight defeats, when up popped Stevie G to get us a well deserved draw in the Champions League this evening.  With qualification almost sewn up now (I don’t want to tempt fate), Rafa and the boys turn their attention back to their ‘bread and butter’ – the Premier League.  After the dropped points at home to one of the league’s other newly promoted sides earlier this season, the Reds will need to ensure they are right on their game from the off when they take on the Baggies at Anfield on Saturday night.  I popped over to www.westbrom.com and www.wbazone.com to canvas the opinions of the fans there ahead of the game.
Public Health Warning: This is an extremely long article – be warned!  The responses I got from the Baggies fans were so good, I didn’t want to leave much out – and besides, the game is not until Saturday, so what better way to kill the time……?!


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Date: 8th November 2008
K.O: 5.30pm
Venue: Anfield Stadium, Liverpool
Capacity: 45, 632

WBA HONOURS

Football League First Division (old)

Champions: 1919–20
Runners-up: 1924–25, 1953–54

Football League Second Division (old), Division One (modern), Football League Championship
Champions: 1901–02, 1910–11, 2007–08
Runners-up: 1930–31, 1948–49, 2001–02, 2003–04

Division Two (modern)
Play-off Winners: 1992–93

FA Cup
Winners: 1888, 1892, 1931, 1954, 1968
Runners-up: 1886, 1887, 1895, 1912, 1935

Football League Cup
Winners:1966
Runners-up: 1967, 1970

FA Charity Shield
Winners: 1920, 1954 (shared with Wolves)
Runners-up: 1931, 1968

Victories in minor cup competitions
FA Youth Cup: 1976
Tennent Caledonian Cup: 1977
Birmingham Senior Cup: 1886, 1895, 1988, 1990, 1991
Staffordshire Senior Cup: 1883, 1886, 1887, 1889, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1924, 1926, 1932, 1933, 1951, 1969 (shared with Stoke City)
Watney Cup: Runners-up: 1971

WBA Club Staff
Manager - Tony Mowbray
Assistant Manager – Mark Venus
First Team Coach – Peter Grant
Goalkeeping Coach – Joe Corrigan
Head of Sports Science – Dan Harris

Form Guide (last six matches)
Liverpool: DLWWDW
West Brom:  DLLLWW

Betting Guide*
Liverpool to win: 1/5
West Brom to win: 10/1
Draw: 4/1
*Odds correct with http://www.willhill.com as at 4/11/08


Did you know……? (some interesting facts about the opposition)

  • West Bromwich Albion, known also as The Albion, The Baggies and The Throstles amongst others, started life as West Bromwich Strollers in 1878.
  • They were formed by workers from George Salter’s Spring Works and were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League in 1888.
  • They have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of English football.
  • Albion’s main club crest dates back to this time when the club secretary suggested a throstle sitting on a crossbar be adopted for the crest, although the crossbar was replaced by a hawthorn branch sometime after the club’s move to their current home in 1900.
  • The stadium was named such because hawthorn bushes covered the site and had to be cleared to make way for the ground.
  • The throstle was chosen because the public house in which the team used to change kept a pet thrush in a cage.  It gave rise to their early nickname, The Throstles, and as late as the 1930’s a caged throstle was placed beside the touchline during matches which, it was said, only used to sing when Albion were winning.
  • The exact origins of the club’s more popular nickname, The Baggies, are uncertain, although one suggestion is that the name was given to Albion supporters by their rivals at Aston Villa, because of the large baggy trousers that many Albion fans wore at work to protect themselves from molten iron in the factories and foundries of the Black Country.
  • Another suggestion is that it derives from the “bagmen”, who carried the club’s match day takings in big leather bags from the turnstiles to the cash office on the halfway line.  Other theories relate to the baggy shorts worn by various players during the club’s early years.
  • At an altitude of 551 feet (168m) above sea level, The Hawthorns is the highest of all of the 92 Premier and Football League grounds.
  • The West Brom side of the 1953-54 season became known for their brand of fluent, attacking football and were hailed as the “team of the century” and The Daily Mirror went as far as to suggest that the team be chosen en masse to represent England at the 1954 World Cup finals.

Oh, and just one more thing – don’t find yourself going up against any Baggies in a pub quiz and expecting to come away with much.  In 2002 in a national intelligence test on the BBC’s ‘Test the Nation’ West Brom fans were found to be "more likely to be smarter than any other football supporters”.

I must say a massive thanks to all those who have contributed to the article – in particular John Court and DJ EmmJee at www.westbrom.com and SolidSnakeBaggie, Martyn Cotterill and Streaky at www.wbazone.com, who all gave up their time to give some excellent detailed responses to my many questions!


1. What have you made of your start to the season so far – has it been as you would have expected or better/worse and why?

DJ EmmJee: We started well, and have held our own against teams, possession wise anyway. Recent run of poo games and lack of ability to finish has cost us. Once we realise that lateral balls don’t work and we need to attack direct, then I think we should be okay.

SolidSnakeBaggie: We had a brilliant start, playing good football, creating chances but not taking them at key times. Solid start after 7 games, then we got hammered at United and it’s gone down hill since. It has been everything I have expected, I knew we would play well, I knew we would need to take our chances, and I knew that if we didn’t then we would get punished and we have, on too many occasions recently.

Martyn_Cotterill: The season so far has been one of frustration. As Albion fans, we all knew that our failure to bring in a decent striker in the summer would contribute heavily to us finding life in the Premier League very difficult. We started by 'playing well' and 'competing' against the likes of Arsenal and Everton, but came away with nothing. We then get wins at home to West Ham and Fulham and away at Middlesbrough without playing too well. I think there was a lot of optimism at the start of the season, but unfortunately now, because of both our own shortcomings and the relative successes of the other two promoted teams; we are slowly becoming very concerned.

Streaky: Mixed but disappointing (I had high hopes). We have played some lovely football at times and have shown we are certainly at home in the big league but too many sloppy mistakes and not enough cutting edge have left us 2nd from bottom (with Stoke above us!?!)

John Court: So far so good, we've played some good, some bad and some indifferent.  Had lots of possession but the cutting edge in the final third seems to be missing at the moment. Hopefully if we can hang in their until the January sales we should be able to pick up a few better acquisitions to stiffen the side up a bit.  I would not have expected to see us in the bottom three at this time of the season but it’s not the end of the world and hopefully only temporary.
 

2. Although still very early on in the season, what are your feelings on where you will be come May – is survival the first and only target or do you feel you can achieve more?

DJ EmmJee: Survival is the primary target. Anything more is a pure bonus. I’m not hoping for more - if we scrape 17th by goal difference, I’ll be more than happy - just to stop the rot of being the "yo yo" club.

SolidSnakeBaggie: We COULD finish mid table if we stop making basic schoolboy errors in defence, and keep Miller confident and fit.

Martyn_Cotterill: Survival is the target. Our brand of football led some of us to maybe fall into somewhat of a false sense of confidence, with it being universally acknowledged that you get more time and space in the top flight, which should suit us down to the ground. However, we are starting to find life very tough as a team, and finishing just outside the relegation zone will suit the majority of us Baggies just fine.

Streaky: At the moment I would grab survival with both hands. I believe we can survive but we need to bit a bit less pretty and a bit more clinical. I place us 15th come season end - that would be good enough for me!

John Court: I'll settle for anything above 17th spot, IMO that's realistic.


3. Reading around various other football sites, I have seen that your gaffer is most revered in the football communities in which he has played/managed previously – most notably on Teesside.  What are your feelings on him currently and what he has achieved?  Have they changed since day one of his appointment at The Albion?

DJ EmmJee: I knew bits about him before he was appointed, as I also follow Rangers, so came across him as Hibs manager back then. In all honesty, I didn’t think too much of him at first. But his first game in charge was the first time we had played Wolves in 5 years, and we won 3-0, so he instantly became a fans favourite. My opinion of Mowbray has lessened slightly in the last few weeks, as I think he focuses TOO much on ball retention and playing a "pretty" game.  This is good, but I think he needs to realise that we have to be more aggressive and get in these team's faces. Other than that, I am more than happy with him, and would like to see him here for a good few years yet.

SolidSnakeBaggie: Mowbray has not achieved anything that extraordinary yet.  Most managers IMO could have got us promoted given the squad fund.  I love his basic philosophy, however he needs more of a ‘plan b’ as his way of playing football is not enough to grind out results week in week out. Yet there is no one I’d rather have in charge, and he is defo the right man to take us forward, given the funds and patience.

Martyn_Cotterill: Good question. Tony Mowbray is a charming, dignified and honest man. His intelligence and application of philosophies to the game has been a breath of fresh air. Not since the '70's have we played such flowing, attractive football, and following Bryan Robson's spell in charge it was just the kind of appointment that we needed. However, he can be a little stubborn at times can Mr. Mowbray - he will not change the way we approach games, or how we play during them. Unfortunately, our league position and goal difference suggests that this approach can leave us very vulnerable at times. In my own opinion, and I wouldn't speak for any other Albion fan, he is still the right man for the job. When Mowbray is around, you buy into a way of life, a culture and a set of ethics rather than just a football manager.

Streaky: TM is quality and has been an absolute revelation since he has been here. I think that is what is hurting most this season - he has given us all hope of a better future but we are not living up to that hope yet! He will get it right - in Mowby we trust!

John Court: Mogga is a top drawer manager and given sufficient funds (unlikely to happen with us) I’m sure he could have a top 4 side within a few years.  He's a studious man and by his own admission spends all his time watching football.  With him in charge our team has changed for the better in so much that we can retain possession and play the ball on the floor instead of lumping it to the big bloke up front.


4. Who do you think has/have been your best player(s) of the season so far and why?

DJ EmmJee: Best overall player is Borja Valero - he just has a certain class about him. But my 2 fave players so far are Paul Robinson and Roman Bednar - I just love their attitudes. You can see it in their eyes and faces when we win/score, that it just means something to them.

SolidSnakeBaggie: James Morrison and Gianni Zuiverloon. Zuiverloon has been brilliant since he has come in; solid in the tackle, quick, good pass reads the game well – (kept Ronaldo quiet most of the game v Utd, until the cheat dived and got him booked so Zoovy couldn’t tackle him again for the rest of the game).  Morrison for me has just been consistently good, and has been MoM 3 or 4 times this season for me.

Martyn_Cotterill: Scott Carson has been excellent for us this season so far. We would surely have dropped more points in certain games had it not been for him. It is also very exciting for us fans to think that we could well have a full England international in our squad at some point in the near future - a massive feat for our club. In defence, Gianni Zuiverloon, a Dutch u21 international signed from Heerenveen in the summer, has been superb. Quick, delicate touch, great positioning and likes a tackle. We have a creative South Korean international by the name of Kim Do-Heon, who has all the ability to be a great footballer, and up front, Roman Bednar and Ishmael Miller, although not the most gifted are starting to prove that their industry and persistence can pay massive dividends.

Streaky: Player of the season so far - Carson (don't think he has had a bad game) and he has had plenty of work to do! Great signing. If we can just get a solid and settled defence in front of him we will earn him a few more clean sheets - he deserves it!

John Court: The team has tended to blow hot and cold with no consistent performers, but I would say possibly the most consistent player has been one of our midfielders, Valero. Top class player that can pick a pass and always looks comfortable on the ball. On the down side he's not the type of player that likes a scrap and puts his foot in.


5. And the worst?

DJ EmmJee: For me, Ryan Donk. Just looks clumsy, but I know he is a superb player with lots of potential. Failing that, everybody's hero Gianni Zuiverloon has really pissed me off in the last 4 games.

SolidSnakeBaggie: Jono Greening has been terrible since helping us get promoted.  Has not made the step up at all, since being a key man last season, unfortunately.

Martyn_Cotterill: Luke Moore has been a massive disappointment for us, from the day he walked into the club. Sent off on his debut (which we lost 4-1 at home), he has done very little to endear himself to the fans. At £3m and with a decent pedigree, we would hope he has more to offer, but we are losing patience very quickly.

Streaky: Worst – Sherjill MacDonald - I really wanted this kid to do well but he is woeful. Has all the talent but can't hit a cow's backside with a banjo, and does not seem up to it to me. However, the fact he has even made it onto the pitch does go to show how bad our striking options are...

John Court: The worst IMO is Luke Moore, who doesn't look interested most of the time. Having said that he did come on Saturday against Blackburn and at least have a go, I hope it’s the pivotal point of his season and he goes on to prove most of us wrong.


6. Anybody who has made a significant step up in class since last season?

DJ EmmJee: I think Ishmael Miller is showing great signs of development under Mowbray, but he was incredible last year, so not really much of a step up, despite being in a much tougher league. For me, Robinson has held his own quite well so far, so I will go for him.

SolidSnakeBaggie: Morrison and recently Miller. These two I’m surprised have made the step up quite comfortably, as I said earlier Morrison has been outstanding, whilst good last season in the Championship he never really excelled. Miller whilst not scoring many has always created chances and caused problems.

Martyn_Cotterill: Before getting injured, Kim Do-Heon made a very impressive start to the Premier League campaign, after playing very much a bit part role last season. He could prove to be a bargain at just over half a million. One player who is yet to feature this season after struggling with an injury is Filipe Teixeira. It is thought he will be able to have a major impact, and give us options for creativity in the middle of the park; however, this is yet to be seen.

Streaky: Robert Koren – I love this guy and he has started to show in the last 3 games that he can handle this level of football – (was my MoM on Saturday and last Tuesday up on the Toon).  Energy, creative and pretty good on the ball - just needs to rediscover his goal scoring talents. Also honourable mention to Morrison - but since he has already played at this level before I am not surprised.

John Court: Miller and Bednar. The two strikers have just started to find a bit of form, but to be honest no one in the team looks out of their depth at this level. Okay, they've all had jittery moments but that's to be expected.


7. What have you made of the players brought in during the summer - have they fitted in well to the squad and system?

DJ EmmJee: Hmmmm, good question. Valero I would say was our best player signed, but he needs to just toughen up a bit in possession. Best signing all together was Scott Carson!     Looks comfortable and I feel a lot more at ease knowing he is in goal. On one or two goals conceded he has looked a tad slow to react, but nothing I'm too worried about. We did, however, need to sign a (Kevin) Phillips style striker, and a snotter
(any suggestions anyone??) of a midfielder. Other than that, not too displeased.

SolidSnakeBaggie: Zuiverloon has been the best.  Carson has won us so many points already and looks a great buy, definitely England’s best keeper at the moment. Olsson looks solid, and has yet to fully settle, but arguably the best player we have is Valero who has yet to adapt to the English game but looks like he’s going to be a class act in this league.

Martyn_Cotterill: When Tony Mowbray brings a player in, he has to be his sort of player and tick all of the boxes that he has on his list. So with regards to fitting into a system, this is rarely an issue. Ryan Donk, a centre-half on loan from AZ Alkmaar has struggled slightly in recent weeks, but other signings appear to be doing okay. Borja Valero, a club record signing from Real Mallorca, is still settling into the English game and the English way of life, but there is a hell of a lot more to come from him. As mentioned already though, our signing of the season has been Zuiverloon, and he could be a world class defender in the years to come.

Streaky: Overall buys have been good. Valero is a quality player and will get better. Olsson made a great start at the back - been a little shaky in the last two games but I think he is good enough. The Loon at right back is quality – (keep your filthy mits off of him!). The rest - all OK, without setting the world on fire.

John Court: We operate a very tight financial ship so there is only a certain quality of player that we can buy, having said that the players bought in can all do a job on the day.


8. On a similar note to the above, what are your thoughts on the summer signing of Scott Carson from us – future England No.1 or not quite cutting the mustard?

DJ EmmJee: Definite future England number 1. [moderated word] up for England at Wembley, and his confidence will show that the next time he appears for the national team. Overall, I think he is absolutely superb, and as mentioned previously, our best signing of the summer. If someone had told me in May that we would have him in goal, I would have laughed my [moderated word] off!
Smithy: I left the [moderated words] in from the original posting on the site as I wasn’t entirely sure what they might have been in the first place!

SolidSnakeBaggie: Answered above!

Martyn_Cotterill: As mentioned, Carson has been excellent for us. He has an extremely experienced colleague alongside him in Dean Kiely as well as Joe Corrigan, a very well respected goalkeeping coach. I for one feel that he will certainly add to his tally of England caps - I just hope it's whilst he’s with us!

Streaky: Carson - quality.

John Court: Playing in goal is similar to being a manager, we can all do a better job, but I’m quite pleased with Carson. He seems to have settled in quite well, he’s pulled of some great saves although perhaps should have done better with others. I think he will eventually take over the England No 1 shirt.


9. Not that I’m on a scouting mission for Rafa, but have you any up and coming hot talent in the youth/reserve team that we and the rest of the Premier League should be looking out for in the coming seasons?

DJ EmmJee: Lateef Elford-Alliyu and Graham Dorrans - Premier League regulars in 18 months to 2 years.   

SolidSnakeBaggie: No youth players really in the squad or making a name for themselves at the moment, except for Luke Moore who will no doubt be at a top club like yourselves within a few seasons. I’d highly recommend him!! HONEST 

Martyn_Cotterill: We feel that our young Nigerian born striker Lateef Elford-Alliyu could well be the next player to break into the first team. He is quick, strong and famously (amongst Albion fans!) scored a David Beckham style goal from the half way line in a pre-season friendly at Stafford Rangers. Unfortunately, we lost one of our hottest prospects to Portsmouth in the summer - James Hurst already had youth caps for England and we had high hopes for him. We wish him all the best in his career.

Streaky: Nothing yet - we have brought Graham Dorrans from north of the border and the lad is apparently pretty good - but we have yet to see it in the Prem so not really sure.

John Court: Not sure that we have any talent that good at the moment.


10. Where do you think that WBA will finish this season in the league and can you see yourselves embarking on another cup run?

DJ EmmJee: On current form, can’t see us finishing above 18th. And I couldn’t give a toss about any cup runs in all honesty. I know they give teams a confidence boost, but our sole objective this year is survival. If we can do it under Robson, sure as poo we can under Mowbray.

SolidSnakeBaggie: No cup runs this year, survival is the key. I think we will finish around 15th or 16th this season, maybe higher if we solve the said problems.

Martyn_Cotterill: The end of our cup run last year sparked our final push for promotion. We again have too much of an important season ahead of us to allow for any interference from a cup run. However, it sometimes breeds confidence as we all know. We have had some ups and downs in the cups in recent years. Obviously last year was great for us, as was beating Manchester United and Newcastle United in the League Cup in recent seasons. But a certain Woking striker by the name of Tim Buzaglo, will always be in our memories as his hat-trick led to an embarrassing 4-2 defeat in the FA Cup third round in 1991. As for where we’ll finish, I genuinely feel we will stay up, but I know that the doom and gloom merchants are circling and the pessimism is starting to set in among certain groups of fans. I’m not sure our hearts can cope with another ‘Great Escape’ finale though!

Streaky: 15th - bugger the cup - nearly cost us our Championship last time out. Mind you if I was guaranteed a cup final date I would take that over Prem survival - and yes, I am serious!

John Court: Last seasons FA Cup semi finalists, I would like to think we can go on a cup run again but who knows?
As I’ve already said, I'll take 17th spot now - blow the whistle!


11. Any what about Liverpool – an awful lot of talk about this year being the year for us – what do you think?

DJ EmmJee: Top two but can’t decide if you have it in you to outrace Yanited AND Chelsea.

SolidSnakeBaggie: Big improvement in yourselves, but when it gets to the crunch I expect Chelsea to be too strong, and Man Utd also, which is a shame as it’s getting boring now and I would like to see someone else for a change. Torres and Gerrard are key - keep them fit and you stand an outside chance; one gets injured for a length of time and you stand no chance.

Martyn_Cotterill: I have watched Liverpool a lot this season, and I feel they have a real chance of being crowned Champions. A great squad, with so many options in different positions and the philosophies of an astute manager will leave you there or thereabouts come May. It would certainly be good for fans of other clubs to see someone other that United or Chelsea claim the title. I just hope the boardroom tussles don’t affect your progress on the pitch too much.

Streaky: I think if you can keep Torres fit and the partnership with Keane can really take off then you have a real chance. You just need to stop dropping stupid points against the lesser lights (well - after Saturday of course!)

John Court: Always liked Liverpool, worked in Chester for 12 months so met a few Scouse lads who I still keep in contact with. They've already been on the phone about the weekend. Last few seasons they have flattered to deceive, don’t know if that’s because Rafa like to swap his team around so often.


12. Who in your opinion is the greatest player ever to turn out for the Baggies and why?

DJ EmmJee: In my time of watching us (15 years) Bob Taylor - boyhood hero. Overall, would probably have to punt with either Bryan Robson, Tony Brown or Jeff Astle, although I never saw any of them play in the blue and white.

SolidSnakeBaggie: Too young to answer – I’m only 20!  The best player I’ve seen is Bob Taylor, but I expect older people to say the likes of Tony Brown, (Cyrille) Regis, Astle, etc.

Martyn_Cotterill: Well, I am only 28, so some of my fellow supporters will be in a better position to answer this. In my lifetime, it was probably Enzo Maresca. A wily and skilful midfield player who we signed on a free from Cagliari and sold to Juventus for around £4.5m. He went on to win the UEFA Cup final for Sevilla, scoring two goals and being named man of the match in the process. All time legends include Ronnie Allen, Brendan Batson, Cyrille Regis and Willie Johnstone.

Streaky: Regis for me - I am too young to remember all our real greats from our glory days (Astle, Ronnie Allen etc) - but Regis for me was the best centre forward I have seen.

John Court: Jeff 'The King' Astle, my boyhood hero along with Bobby Moore and George Best.
Astle was a typical old fashioned centre forward powerful on the floor and in the air, great servant to the club in the days when money wasn't always the most important thing.


13. What is your proudest/most memorable moment supporting the Baggies?

DJ EmmJee: Wembley Play off final 1993. Play off semi final at Hawthorns against Swansea, 1993. First promotion to the Premier League, we played Palace at home. Last minute equaliser at Villa Park, Great Escape season, 2005. Beating Wolves 3-0, then 3-0, then 3-2, then 1-0, all in 1 season!

SolidSnakeBaggie: Honestly last season when we went up playing the style we did, when Chris Brunt hit that ball in the net against Southampton it was the best, most indescribable feeling ever, better than the great escape in my opinion, it was a feeling which matched that of our first promotion to the Prem in 2002, we get quite a few proud moments supporting the Baggies! Plus anytime we beat Wolves is a great feeling.

Martyn_Cotterill: The proudest moment by far was the ‘Great Escape’ season final day victory at home to Portsmouth. I have genuinely never experienced anything like it. Albion fans singing Pompey songs, Pompey fans singing Albion songs, Pompey fans wearing half Albion, half Portsmouth shirts and the inevitable pitch invasion at the end of the game. I remember there was a guy sat in one of the executive boxes. There were loads of us looking up at him waiting for confirmation of the other results. I can vividly remember his face as he turned to face us with his arms aloft and with a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon. Cue the mass celebrations. What an incredible day. Other highlights include Lee Ashcroft scoring on the final day of the 1993-94 season (I think it came off his shoulder!) to keep us in the old first division at the expense of Birmingham, and making up 11 points on our fierce rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers to gain promotion to the Premier League at their expense in the 2001-02 season.

Streaky: First team to stay in the Prem after being bottom at Christmas - the Great Escape. What a day! But I am torn between that and winning the Championship last season - our first proper piece of silverware in 40 years and our first league title in 80 odd - so I think Chris Brunt hitting the free kick that secured us the title at QPR was the moment.

John Court: Seeing us lift the cup in ‘68 and being at Loftus Road last season to see us lift the Championship trophy - not a European Cup I know but hey, we’re grateful for anything!
 

14. From my last visit to the Baggies – ( a 2-0 win over Wolves about eight years ago!) “Boing Boing” was a big favourite on the terraces, as is the “Torres Bounce” at Anfield at the moment.  Is it still going strong and do you have any other favourite songs/chants that will get an airing at Anfield on Saturday?

DJ EmmJee: Psalm 23 (The Lord's my Shepherd). When the stripes go marching in. "Dingle reject, Dingle reject" aimed at Keane!   

SolidSnakeBaggie: Yes we still “boing boing”, though only after we score, so I doubt you will see it Saturday mate. Songs you will here no doubt are, ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’, and ‘When the stripes go marching in’ to name a couple.

Martyn_Cotterill: Yes, we’re still ‘boinging’, and have been since the 1992-93 season. It’s mainly after we score. We also sing the first verse of Psalm 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd), which dates back to when Albion became one of the first teams to play on a Sunday (against Everton I believe). The fans thought it would be a good idea to sing something spiritual as a result, and it’s stuck ever since!

Streaky: We still ‘boing’ (scored so many last season I considered selling our season DVD as a fitness regime!). ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ is our club anthem and always makes the hairs stand on end - so I hope we can give you a decent rendition on Saturday.

John Court: ‘Boing Boing’ is always a favourite as is a rendition of Psalm 23 after we score. (I hope you hear that about six times on Sat  )


15. Professional footballers are well known for their Christmas fancy dress parties, but I believe that it is also tradition for the Baggies fans to indulge in dressing up for the last away game of every season.  How did that tradition start and do you yourself indulge?!

DJ EmmJee: The first one I remember was away at QPR when we all dressed in suits. Think it was late 1990's, but not 100% sure. But to be honest, I have no idea how it was started, when it was started, or who by! Just another one of those daft things we do!

SolidSnakeBaggie: Not too sure, I’ve heard a story that we were voted the worst dressed fans in the country so on the last away day of the season we all dressed in suits, I don’t know if that’s what started it, this will need to be confirmed.

Martyn_Cotterill: I’m not sure how it started, but it could be related to when we were voted the country’s worst dressed supporters! We countered this with wearing smart suits on the final day of the season. Since then, it has tended to be as a tribute to our player(s) of the season. In 2004, we dressed as Vikings in honour of our since-retired central defender Thomas Gaardsoe. Others included an Irish themed away at Coventry to celebrate the efforts of Dean Kiely and Paul McShane - (I went in a backless Priest’s costume with some Irish pants!) and a superhero theme, in recognition of last season’s top scorer, Kevin Phillips.

John Court: Started as a beach party years ago I think, now it’s developed into a 'themed' day.  Last year was a super hero day at QPR.
Best one I saw was at Blackburn a few years ago when we were relegated from the Prem (first time) and it was based on referees.
I had Elvis in a referees strip next to me; the guy really played it up as well!


16. How do you think Tony Mowbray will set his team out at Anfield – park the bus in front of the goal or will attack be the best form of defence?

DJ EmmJee: Midfield domination (attempted) - 1 man upfront probably. We'll have a go, but don’t envisage us getting many chances. So the ones we do get we have to make the most of.

SolidSnakeBaggie: 4-5-1 no doubt. Keep the ball a lot. Create a few chances maybe. But it doesn’t matter IMO the big four are that far ahead we don’t really stand a chance against any of you guys, home or away.

Martyn_Cotterill: Tony Mowbray doesn’t believe in parking the bus! We’ll more than likely set out with a 4-5-1 formation. But who knows?! He may surprise us and go with two up top. If recent games are anything to go by, we’ll hold onto the ball for large periods, and create a couple of decent chances, but there may be a lack of any real potency up front. But with Ishmael Miller’s confidence returning, who knows what will happen.

Streaky: We will play 4-5-1 with Miller up top to use his pace on the counter-attack. We aren't very good at parking - no doubt we would leave the handbrake off and watch the bus roll away on its own if we tried!  We will come to play, keep possession as much as we can and take the sting out of the game if we can. We need to move the ball forward quickly if we get it, to put you on the back foot - I think Carragher will have an interesting afternoon if we can get Miller into the game.

John Court: 4-5-1 - boarding the defence up is not a game that Mowbray plays.


17. And finally, à la Mystic Meg, care to predict the result/scorers for Saturday?

DJ EmmJee: 4-0 Liverpool   

SolidSnakeBaggie: The pessimist in me is saying 3-0.  The optimist is praying for Carson to have a blinder and keep it at 0-0.

Martyn_Cotterill: Well, with the way some of this season’s results have gone, it really is anyone’s guess as to what could happen. One would think a comfortable victory for the home side, with their foot off the gas for the final 20 minutes or so. I just hope we are not embarrassed, so I’ll go with a 2-0 Liverpool victory.

Streaky: I can't see us getting anything if I am honest - if we can keep it to 3-0 or better I will be happy! Keane will score - bloody dingle always does against us! I would live to see a valiant 0-1 score line - with an 89th minute winner - but I’m really not confident.  Enjoy the game - but not too much!

John Court: Hope for 1-0 to the good guys, would settle for 1-1 (any draw in fact) realistically 3-0 to the Reds (and we'll still be singing).
All the best (after Saturday!).

© Andy Smith, November 2008 (with a little help from Wikipedia!)

Some top answers from some top fans – really appreciated the time and effort they put into their responses – thanks again to all who contributed.

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