In a rigmarole of ideologies, West Bromwich Albion have defined expectations for a huge part in the mid 1900s. Through thick and through thin, through blood and sweat, they marched along the pyramid that defines English football. And in their worst of times, they have failed to redefine class and cadre (Aston Villa fans might beg to differ though!).
Throughout their rich 142 year history, West Brom have set down markers for other clubs to follow aided by their amazing scouting system and once-fabled attacking trident in the 1949-1955 period. In the cascading serendipity of emotions, the Baggies have churned out some amazing talents in their cesspool of ambition and success as well as players who have redefined established parameters. Here, we go about the onerous, yet enviable job of listing the 10 greatest West Brom players ever.
Based on consistency, longevity, success, impact, loyalty and dedication, here are the 10 greatest West Brom players ever.
10. John Wile (1970-1983)
Wile joined West Bromwich Albion in December 1970. He spent more than 12 years at Albion, and was club captain during and after Ron Atkinson’s spell as manager.
He was captain throughout the glorious late 1970s. Forming an almost impenetrable centre-half paring with Ally Robertson, Wile was a sound, composed and uncompromising defender during his spell with the club.
Wile made a total of 619 senior appearances for Albion. His most famous moment came when he played with blood pouring from a head wound during the 1978 FA Cup semi-final against Ipswich at Highbury. An amazing servant for the club, Wile defined longevity while playing his trade as he made 500 appearances for the club.
9. Ray Barlow (1944-1960)
Perhaps Albion’s most gifted ever player, Barlow was a supreme footballer with every attribute in the book, making him the perfect midfielder at left-half.
Barlow is probably best remembered for his versatility – he could play left-half, centre-half, inside-forward, and even centre-forward. He had supreme positional sense and was a major force in leading West Brom
He was part of the 1954 FA Cup winning team under the management of Vic Buckingham. This team came close to accomplishing a League and Cup double that year, but finished runners-up in the League behind Wolverhampton by four points.
One of the greatest West Brom players ever, Barlow was criminally restricted to just one England cap.
8. Cyrille Regis (1977-1984)
Cyrille Regis played professional football for 19 years but the most prolific part of his career was when he played for West Brom. He was an explosive striker and the press called him ‘Smokin Joe’ because his build was like that of boxer Joe Fraizer.
He was spotted by West Bromwich Albion’s chief scout Ronnie Allen, who recommended that the First Division club should sign him. Regis made his first team debut in a League Cup match against Rotherham United on 31 August 1977, scoring twice in a 4–0 win.
His long-range powerful strike against Norwich, in 1982, was voted as the goal of the season. Cyrille Regis was named Young Player of the Year in 1979 while he played for West Brom. As a result, he is regarded as one of the greatest West Brom players ever.
He went on to play for Coventry City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the Wycombe Wanderers but he never achieved the level of success that he had with Albion.
7. Billy Bassett (1886-1899)
Virtually the founder of what we know today as West Bromwich Albion, Bassett was a flying outside-right who scored goals, won two FA Cup winner’s medals, played 16 times for England.
He joined the Baggies in 1886, playing outside-right. Bassett scored his debut League goal on 15 September 1888 at the County Ground, against Derby County. When he made his League debut he was 19 years 225 days old; that made him, on that first day of League football, West Bromwich Albion’s youngest player.
He was quick, direct and highly effective, he possessed superb ball-control and could score goals as well as make them. Bassett became an Albion director and later a chairman in 1905 and helped the club to avoid bankruptcy by paying the players’ summer wages from his own pocket. He remained Albion’s chair until his death.
6. Jeff Astle (1964-1974)
Jeff Astle was a thunderous header of the ball, supreme leader of the line. He joined West Brom in 1964 for £25,000. He scored 174 goals in 361 games for the Baggies, including the only goal in the 1968 FA Cup Final, in which he completed the feat of scoring in every round of the competition.
Astle also scored in the 1970 League Cup Final and become the first man to score in both Cup finals.
At the height of Astle’s Albion career, the words “ASTLE IS THE KING” appeared in large white letters on the brickwork of Primrose Bridge, which carries Cradley Road over a canal in Netherton, in the heart of the Black Country.
Only won five England caps. Astle joined Albion from NottsCounty and eventually left the club to finish his career in non-league football, playing for DunstableTown, Weymouth and Hillingdon Borough.