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Stoney Lane the scene of so much West Brom joy

By Joseph Masi | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

For well over a century The Hawthorns is the place Albion have called home.

Stoney Lane, West Bromwich and Albion Field Drive, West Bromwich.

But the Baggies enjoyed a rich – albeit nomadic – history even before they moved to their iconic stadium in Halfords Lane.

Founded in 1878, Albion played in six different grounds during the first 22 years of their existence.

And today marks 120 years since they last played a match at Stoney Lane – their home prior to The Hawthorns being built.

It ended in an emphatic 8-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

And it brought to an end one the most successful spells in the club’s history.

Albion moved to Stoney Lane in 1885 from their Four Acres home which they shared with West Bromwich Dartmouth Cricket Club.

The lease was acquired from a local undertaker.

And over the next 15 years, the Baggies enjoyed unprecedented success.

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A founder member of the Football League which started in 1888, the first league match at Stoney Lane saw the Baggies beat Burnley 4–3 in the September of that year.

A total of 2,100 fans attended that game.

And from there the Baggies went from the strength to strength.

They beat Preston North End 2-1 in the FA Cup final that year.

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They won the trophy again in 1892 when they thumped Villa 3-0 in the final.

And a record-breaking crowd of 20,977 fans crammed in for a 1-0 win over Wolves in March 1895.

Albion actually reached the FA Cup final three other times in the 15 years they were at Stoney Lane.

But success on the field didn’t equate to success off it.

And by 1900, the stadium had degenerated to such an extent that it had become one of the worst in the First Division.

That meant attendances dropped to around the 6,000 mark.

And with Albion struggling financially, it was felt another move was the best way to the revive the club’s fortunes.

It led to the board buying a 10-acre site so the club could build its own stadium free from rent payments.

And when club secretary Frank Heaven discovered the area surrounding the site had been known as the ‘Hawthorn’s Estate’ and hawthorn bushes had flourished there, the choice of name was an obvious one.

The new ground brought with it the team nickname The Throstles, the Black Country word for Thrush birds which had often been spotted in hawthorn bushes.

For many years the birds lived at the ground in a wooden cage which was hung above the players’ tunnel.

Later, a replica of a large thrush was placed on top of the scoreboard.

The birds also inspired the design of the official club badge, with a throstle, perched on a branch, depicted on a background of blue and white club colours.

Joseph Masi

By Joseph Masi
Football MMPJ

West Bromwich Albion reporter.

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