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Summer Break – West Bromwich Albion

It has become something of a received wisdom within the present day that the mainstream media exist as the pinnacle of what is possible in sports journalism. Whilst it is not in our interest to reject this assumption, here at A Team of John O’Sheas we believe that some of the most perceptive insight regarding the top teams in the country comes from the fans themselves.

In the course of this podcast series, we will be bringing together some of the most influential fans from across the Premier League to give you the low-down on the teams that they watch week in, week out. We’ll look back over the season just gone, try to get a handle on the transfer activity that rumbles on through the summer months, and look forwards to the next season which, as always, seems to creep up on us with ever increasing speed.

No one really knows where West Bromwich is. If the Premier League table is anything to go by it is probably slap-bang in the middle of the country. Obviously, the clichés about West Bromwich Albion are legion: we could mention the pathological need to obtain 40 points and no more, their seemingly endless supply of aging centrebacks or their baseballed-capped manager who has his own unique style of football: Pulisball. This is mean-spirited, though, especially given the remarkable nature of what the club has achieved in recent years. Of course, to suggest that West Brom’s place in the top division of English football is not justified would be to ignore the clubs long and illustrious history. One of the 12 founding clubs of the football leagues, the club has only sunk into the third tier for a short period in the 90s. What is so extraordinary about the clubs is the manner in which they have kept their place at the top table of English football in the last decade where money has become everything. More recently, this has everything to do with the inventor of Pulisball – Tony Pulis. Taking charge in 2015, last season Pulis managed to drag the club into the top half of the table despite having only spent the paltry sum of £22.5 million. But does this 10th place finish represent the ceiling for the Baggies? Or can Pulis get even more out of them next season and push them higher up the table?

Joining us on the show today are two legends of Albion fandom: Andy Caulton and Andi Purewal. Andy Caulton, from Burton-on-Trent, has been a Baggies fan since 1970 and unquestionably still wallows in the halcyon days of Cunningham, Regis and Batson. Despite living in New Hampshire for 15 years, he flies home every season to watch West Brom play although he isn’t exactly lucky in that regard: in the last 5 seasons he’s only seen the team score a combined 2 goals! Andy appears regularly on SiriusXM, a national soccer channel in the US and writes a weekly blog on West Brom for the Premier League Panel website. Andi Purewal is from Birmingham and has been a West Brom fan as long as he can remember. A home season ticket holder, he also travelled regularly to away games until last season. Working as a boxing and football correspondent for the Birmingham Mail, his articles have appeared in The Times, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Mirror.

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