They’ve spent much of their recent history hopscotching between England’s top two tiers. Their mascot was once a man dressed as a combi boiler. Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles go and watch them together.
We’re talking, of course, about West Bromwich Albion, the Midlands outfit who can never seem to settle in either the Premier League or the Championship for long enough.
But where does their less orthodox nickname come from? Why do West Brom fans call their team ‘The Baggies’, or even ‘The Boing Boing Baggies’?
Where Does ‘The Baggies’ Come From?
Not, as it happens, because of their particularly baggy shorts they wore during their glory years at the end of the 19th century. Every team had them, of course.
In fact, there are a good few possible explanations as to where ‘Baggies’ derives. One theory is that, after settling at The Hawthorns in 1900, their stadium initially only had two entrances – one behind each goal – so gatekeepers would collect spectators’ money in large bags. Crowd would shout ‘here come the bag man’, which later spawned the ‘Baggies title’.
Yet another explanation is that plenty of early Albion fans worked in the Black Country’s many factories, mills and steel works, and wore large, baggy moleskin aprons and trousers to protect themselves from molten iron there. As a result, nearby rivals Aston Villa used to shout ‘here come the bag men’ at their Midlands counterparts.
Other possible solutions previously offered up include that supporters took large bags round to pubs to help save the club from extinction in 1905, and that the club almost going bankrupt at this time saw many of their large players replaced by smaller players, who made the same kits look far more baggy in their skins than in the predecessors’.
Why Are West Brom Called the ‘Boing Boing Baggies’?
Again, there’s some debate to be had about why, instead of cheering and hugging your nearest and dearest in delight when they score, West Brom fans bounce up and down and shout ‘boing boing’ repeatedly.
But it’s not because of their recent bouncing between the top two leagues, nor is it due to the fact the club were formed at George Salter’s Spring Works in West Bromwich.
The story goes that they caught wind of the song and rather liked it, despite possible mishearing the lyrics. It was then supposedly played in a local disco, where it caught on, along with the jumping and the flailing arms now synonymous with ‘boing boing’. Indeed, these Brummies are said to then have imitated it at an Albion game, and it took off from there.
Again, though, other origins have been offered. One alternative beginning is that bitterly cold Baggies fans at one particular match were jumping up and down, shouting ‘Come on you Baggies’ as fast as they could. Another story is that commentator Malcolm Boyden he said ‘the Baggies are boinging their way to promotion’ following their rise to the First Division in 1993, which Albion fans then took up themselves.
Either way, it’s certainly more interesting than polite clapping and moderate applause, at least.