West Bromwich Albion, like their Black Country rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, have in recent years struggled to maintain a presence in the top flight. An eight year stint in the Premier League ended in May this year with relegation to the Championship. To make matters worse for Baggies fans, Wolves were promoted back to the Premier League.
The Hawthorns, West Brom’s home since the end of the nineteenth century, is 168 m (551 ft) above sea level, making it the highest ground among all 92 Premier League and Football League clubs. It can easily be seen from the Rotunda in the centre of Birmingham 9 km (5.6 miles) away.
The ground has been entirely reconstructed since the 1970s, but beyond the refurbishment of the 1980s-built West Stand in 2008, there has been no major work since the East Stand was constructed in 2001. There were plans to replace the West Stand, but to date these have not materialised. The ground capacity is a fairly modest 26,500.
The Jeff Astle Gates commemorate striker Jeff Astle, who scored 174 goals in 361 appearances for West Brom between 1964 and 1974. Sadly, he died in 2002 aged 59 from degenerative brain disease brought on by repeatedly heading old-fashioned leather footballs, which were far heavier than the plastic balls now used, especially when wet.
This statue commemorates another West Brom legend, Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown, who scored 218 goals in 574 appearances between 1963 and 1980.
Finally, this blue plaque commemorates West Brom’s founder membership of the Football League.