The Hawthorns, November 1990

This is a photograph from the project ‘Sandwell in Black & White’, where Jubilee invited local people to have an autofocus camera and record a week in their life and have editorial control over which image was to appear In the final exhibition. Phil Kingston and Rob Lane, groundskeepers at the Albion, shared a camera and recorded one of the ‘worst weeks in Albion’s history’. The Hawthorns pitch had been completely dug up for only the second time in the club’s history – the last time being 1912. The whole surface was replaced and it was hoped that Albion would be able to play on a pitch worthy of First Division status and return the club to former glory days. Towards the year end, luck seemed against them. The drainage pumps broke down during unusually cold and wet weather, causing serious damage to the pitch, making it unplayable. The Baggies were beaten at home by two goals to four in the third round of the FA Cup by non-league club Woking, and so manager Bryan Talbot was sacked. By the end of the season Albion were relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history. Ouch!

Near to the opening of the exhibition, the worried Chair of the club rang up to check which pictures were going to be on show.

At a press call for the beginning of this archive project, Tom Watson, Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East, posed for the newspaper holding this photograph. He had his own unfortunate record with the Baggies; each time he attended a home match the team lost.