Although I have certainly known the name of West Bromwich Albion for long time, I really didn't know what to expect from the trip to Baggies ground. I have to admit WBA to me has always been around mid-table, and not north nor south, somehow elusive club. But thanks to this gentleman with style (the coolest hat in football, which even Ronald can't rock this well!) Mr. Alan Cleverly, the senior guide of the Hawthorns, I got the striking image of WBA now. That is, the proud founder of Football League, the club who achieved the best before everyone even started.
As Mr. Cleverly took me through the stadium corridors, I was amazed by the number of photos and memorabillia displayed on the walls. The English respect history and most of clubs pay tributes to the club legends in various displays, but the amount this club put out is not comparable! As an answer to my 'it's like a museum' comment, Mr. Cleverly replied, 'this is only a part of the things we have here.' It really IS like a museum, well the British Museum, most of whose collection kept in the storage...
The Woodman Corner Pub
25 St. Michael St West Bromwich West Midlands B70 7AB
I usually run research on the pubs around the ground which serve the home supporters well and manage to find one or two, but at this occasion I not only miserably failed but found out both of once-loved The Woodman, once on the corner of the Birmingham Road Stand and the East Stand and The Hawthorns on Birmingham Road were bought by the club and do not serve as a pub any more. That's a huge disappointment on my journey.
To me, the pubs full of memorabillia and an owner tattling for ever about the club are part of the deal and finding out that a memory-filled pub existed until only a few years ago seriously makes me say, damn, why didn't I vist there before they closed down. It's also the reason why I feel urged to progress my pilgrimage before everything is lost in the transience of things.
Walking around the stadium on a match day, I saw some people selling mysterious white paper bags. 'What are you selling?'I asked. 'Pork Scratchings!' the guy in white coat answered in a nice English voice. A big question mark swelled over my head. What the hell is that? He kindly told me that it is fried pork skin and one of Midland's local delicacies. As he let me try a piece, I tasted it. Very crunchy and salty, well definitely a grea niblble with beer!
With a dashing call he sells a bag for a pound. He said he can sell a few hundres on match days, and he and his son go around the matches in the area such as Aston Villa, Wolvhampton, and Birmingham City. If you have a chance to go to the Hawthorns, you should get a bag and make sure to have a pint with it before the match. It will keep you going far if you have a intense cheering planned ahead.
Bend your arms, then put them up and down one by one. This is the signature move of Albion supporters. It is so adorable to see the masculine supporters do this cute arm move 'Boing Boing' without any hesitation. I really wanted to see the real Boing Boing at the Hawthorns but I knew that it only happens at the occasion of Albion side scoring. Well, the chance is about 50-50?!
But again, the godness of football was generous to her pilgrim. On that day, the Baggies scored not only one, in fact, two!! I witnessed the supporters bouncing with this unique and rather cute arm moves twice. I felt content and left the still-feverish Hawthorns that night.