WBA’s Unsung Heroes: We speak to those behind the scenes
What goes into a big game at The Hawthorns?
West Bromwich Albion are roaring right now, with Darren Moore’s Baggies firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion.
But while the boss and his squad are doing the business on the pitch, there’s also a ton of hard work going on behind the scenes.
With everything going swimmingly at The Hawthorns, the Coral News Team caught up with some of the unsung heroes doing their bit in the club’s push for glory.
Dan Hill – Kit Man
Coral News: First off – how long have you been involved with Albion, and why did being a kit man appeal?
Dan Hill: “I’ve been involved with the football club since my teens. I always just loved the idea of being able to work in football and working for the club that I support, and it was great that I got the opportunity to come and do it.”
CN: I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Baggies kits over the years – do you have an all-time favourite design; or is there a kit which holds special memories?
DH: Definitely the kit from the 2004/05 Great Escape season – just because of how great that last game of the campaign [a 2-0 win over Portsmouth] was. It’s just so iconic and memorable.
CN: As kit man, you’ve travelled around the country with WBA. What are your most memorable trips with the team?
DH: Going to Stamford Bridge last season was great. It was the first time I had worked with the first-team at a ground of that size. It was amazing to be able to have the opportunity to go down there and be part of it.
Richard Hurst – Stadium Announcer
CN: You’ve announced some great goals over the years. What are some of the best Baggies strikes you’ve had the pleasure of shouting about?
Richard Hurst: Harvey Barnes’ stunner against Bolton on the opening day of this season was quite something. It helped that looking from the tunnel I was right behind it so watched it bend into the top corner.
Before that, Salomon Rondon’s hat-trick of headers against Swansea was awesome. It just felt right that I announced his name with even more pleasure each time!
And, just for what it meant at the time, Jake Livermore’s last-minute winner against Tottenham Hotspur last season.
CN: Are there any favourite phrases you try to slip in with announcing? Or any memorable announcements you’ve had to make for individual fans.
RH: For a while when I’d introduce the mascots, I’d write a few lines to say to the camera a bit like when Top Gear used to introduce the Stig – for example “Some say he etc…All we know is, he’s called Baggie Bird.” It was always fun trying to get those in.
I’ve not had too many memorable announcements for fans yet. I’m still hoping for a marriage proposal or announcement for a fan to leave the ground because their wife’s given birth!
CN: What does your match day entail from the time you get into the ground until the end?
RH: I get the train to the Hawthorns for 1pm. There’s always a great atmosphere on a match day as you get off and walk up to the ground
After that I head pitchside where we test the microphones, go through the day’s scripts and generally prepare for everything.
From 2pm we’re off and running with announcements, presentations to camera, the team news and of course that great moment just before kick-off when I welcome the teams on to the pitch.
I’m very lucky in that I get to watch the game from the tunnel. I’m watching for goalscorers, added minutes and subs and then hosting any half-time games we’re playing. At the final whistle I’ll wish everyone a safe journey home, and then make a run for the train myself!
Rob Lane – Head Stadium Groundsman
CN: How long have you been involved with the ground at Albion, and how many of you work on it?
Rob Lane: I’ve been here for 30 years now! At the stadium, there’s me and Dave Beard – with three more down at the training ground.”
CN: What does looking after the pitch entail – and what are the toughest weather conditions you had to deal with at Albion?
RL: Worst weather? No question – whenever it snows, there’s ice or just any winter conditions.
In terms of what looking after the pitch entails, it’s just maintaining the pitch to the highest level that we can. We need to keep it in prime condition throughout the year.
CN: It must be very satisfying to see the players out there on the surface when it’s at it’s best. What’s that like for your team?
RL: We prepare it as best we can for them – and then obviously once they’re over that white line it’s up to them to perform on it, which they’re doing right now. It’s nice to think we’ve played our part in it!
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