The Memories of a True Fan
These are the memories of someone whose life has been deeply involved with serving and supporting the Albion. We are pleased to share his memories with you. Most of you will know him either as a regular traveller on our supporters coaches or selling programmes - he is of course Bernie Dawes and here are his memories ....
On Easter Saturday 9th April 1938 on my 5th Birthday I was taken to my first Albion match by my Father as a birthday treat. It was against Exeter City and we won, I went to more matches after that but couldn't go to too many as my father was on the Supporters Club Committee and was busy on match days.
The War then intervened although we went to quite a lot of wartime league matches. But my adventures really started in 1948 after the war had ended.
I continued to go to matches with my father and help him sell his programmes before finding our place on the north west corner of the Goldstone Ground. My father asked me one day after a club meeting if I would be interested in joining the Supporters Club committee. And did I know of any others that might be interested as they required some young ideas to move forward.
*note from current chairman - there are no new ideas only old ones reworked as I am looking to do the same thing today *
My Mother joined us along with Dennis James, Phil Denyer and John Westborough. My father had been on the committee from 1923 and I served until the mid 1970's when there was a dispute with Mike Bamber and he shut down the Supporters Club stating “its my money in the club you don't tell me how to run the club”.
I met Charlie Webb just before he retired, also Alex and Joe Wilson and players like Harry Baldwin, Jack Ball, Stan Willense, Johnny McNichol and many more and became friends with a lot of them. The Supporters Club motto in my early days was “To Help Not To Hinder” until the bust up with Mike Bamber. I went to my first away match in the cup at Walthamstow Avenue, then Trowbridge. I was helping to organise away match coaches, we used Southdown in those days. But being no motorways we had to leave earlier than nowadays and the coaches weren't as powerful as these days and would struggle up hills. During the Fifties Billy Lane became manager and we suddenly took off - after two of three near misses we made it into the Second Division for the first time in the club's history. During this period we were selling programmes, Hand Books which we took over from the Football Club, Penny on the Ball tickets at 1d old money being drawn at half time, the winner getting the match ball.
My time on the committee was getting busier and busier organising different functions including Social Evenings which we invited visiting supporters to attend and in turn we attended their social evenings when visiting them for away games.
One thing Billy Lane and Major Carlo Campbell insisted that players attended our functions.
I shall never forget my first away match in the second division at Middlesbrough, we lost 9-0 with a certain Mr Clough hitting five goals and just to rub it in he got a hat trick in the reverse fixture. Which I reminded him of when I met him when he became our manager in later years. The sixties were a lot different to the fifties, new members joined Dougie Beard, Dorothy Back, Bert and Amy Long. My father had to resign due to ill health after over 40 years on the committee and my mother also resigned to look after him.
When Billy Lane left George Curtis took over and managed to get us relegated twice. Archie Macauley took over and got us back up. I was still selling programmes but the penny on the ball had disappeared and we had the Goldstone Gamble and door to door lotteries started, 3 and Easy, then the very popular Lottery Tickets where the top prize was £1000. This was the start of supporters being paid for doing their bit, what I and many others had been doing for nothing for 20 years or more. Times changed - I walked the streets selling lottery tickets 3 nights a week for over 25 years, I had to call it a day in 2009 as my legs wouldn't let me. I have enjoyed all I have done over the years. I am still selling programmes at the Amex in the west lower. Please come and have a chat.
On December 10th at Middlesbrough I shall be attending my 2,500 Albion game, I have worked for the club for 63 years in different ways, visited 163 different grounds only watching the Albion, being a true supporter of our great club for 73 years and travelled an estimated 424,000 miles.
Best Wishes to you all
note from Chairman, I'm sure you will agree Bernie's devotion to the Albion is fantastic and may never be surpassed. Even now when many would be sitting back and taking a rest, Bernie answered my call for new committee members at the AGM and rejoined bringing his vast experience and enthusiasm to help move our club forward again just as he did all those years ago.
Well done Bernie and may there be many more seasons of memories to come.
John Hewitt, Chairman.