Today marks the 13th anniversary of something quite significant.
On this date in 2000, West Bromwich Albion’s board of directors were going through the final throes of appointing Gary Megson as boss.
The rest, you might be interested to know, is consigned to history and a 250-plus page book (yours from any good local book shops).
Yet when Megson wandered into training for the first time to meet his seemingly third tier-bound Albion players, he did so at a rugby club house.
The first task was finding a suitable pitch, the second was marking out the pitch to requirements needed for Association and not the Union football. And then there would be the need to remind players that there are no extra points for planting the ball over the bar. Yes, you, James Quinn.
There were NO training facilities.
And the nearest Albion got to youngsters coming through were the Chambers twins and Adam Oliver.
James and his brother Adam have gone on to have successful careers in the lower leagues of football. Oliver, sadly, was forced into early retirement after failing to recover from a serious knee injury.
These days, Albion’s training ground has more gadgetry than a small passnger plane, it’s patrolled by security who might as well demand paperwork and fingerprint ID, with a surround fence to deter the likes of you and I from sneaking in and seeing anything we shouldn’t
And God help you if you have the audacity to ask anyone for an autograph.
It is, in other words, the usual hub of activity and you’d expect from a Premier League club.
It’s also where Albion’s academy is housed.
Where Megson once had no interest in the players of tomorrow – he argued he wouldn’t be around long enough to reap the rewards – Steve Clarke is more than keen to find out more about the next generation.
One of the youngsters, Izzy Brown, would have become the youngest-ever Premier League player had he come on last week (he still might if he’s in the squad for Saturday’s Swansea game).
Clarke said: “Seven or eight years is not a long time to set it up and get it running.It would be nice to get one through and I’m not sure we can say we have done that at this point in time. George (Thorne) is almost at a point where we can say we have brought him through and I think if he hadn’t picked up his injury we’d be able to say he’s come through.
“You look at some of the big clubs who spend large amounts of money on their academies and there’s not too many players coming through there either.
“The average age for a player breaking into a Premier League team is over 21, and it used to be 17 or 18, now it takes a lot longer.
“The academy have a philosophy and a way of working that was shown to me when I came in. I like the way the academy operates and I think it’s good for the young players to learn to play in a variety of positions and formations.”