When the fixtures came out last June, most fans would have looked at an away fixture against Burnley and targeted a positive result.
Sean Dyche’s men have confounded their critics however, and it will be a tough trip on Saturday.
Fifty-seven years ago, when Albion and Burnley were drawn together in the fourth round of the FA Cup, the gulf between the teams was a division wider. We were in our third season in the old Division Two, while Burnley were fourth in Division One and the reigning League champions.
Albion were drawn at home and despite horrendous weather, a crowd of over 28,500 witnessed a thriller. After Burnley went ahead on 25 minutes, Albion wing-half Jack Bertolini brought us level with a long-range screamer.
Early in the second half an own-goal from Joe Carolan restored Burnley’s lead, but after an hour, Albion right-back Bob McNichol picked up the ball in his own half and surged forward.
When he was 35 yards from the Burnley goal, he unleashed an absolute thunderbolt that flew into the back of the net to bring us level once again.
The drama wasn’t over because a few minutes later, the Goldstone crowd erupted as Denis Windross converted a Mike Tiddy cross putting us ahead for the first time. Burnley equalised almost immediately and we couldn’t repeat our heroics. With the rain still teeming down, the referee blew the final whistle with the scores locked at 3-3.
The replay at a rain-swept Turf Moor drew another large crowd of nearly 23,000 but this time, it was a bridge too far for Albion. Burnley won 2-0 and went on to reach the semi-final.
Since then, we have met 28 times, winning ten and drawing ten. Prior to this season, all those meetings have been in the second tier.
Perhaps the most memorable (for me anyway!) was a game in February 1978. Albion won the game 2-1 with goals from Malcolm Poskett and Brian Horton but the real entertainment came at half-time.
The hugely popular band Slade appeared on the pitch, playing their song ‘Give us a Goal’. The massed ranks of the North Stand provided a great backdrop to the song, which failed to appear in the UK singles chart.
It did enjoy a renaissance 30 years later, cropping up in the soundtrack to the ‘Fifa 09’ computer game.
Here’s hoping Albion can give us a goal on Saturday!