West Brom’s young support base in Nakuru

West Bromwich Albion fans in Nakuru
West Bromwich Albion fans in Nakuru

An impoverished community of children are fervent West Bromwich Albion supporters, despite never having seen the Birmingham club play.

With no television in the Nakuru slum to watch the ‘Baggies’ play, volunteer and West Brown supporter Sallyann Wright has captured young girls chanting ‘Baggies Baggies’ every time someone off camera shouts ‘Boing Boing’.

West Brown are known as “The Baggies” because originally their ground, The Hawthorns only had two entrances, one behind each goal. On match days the gatekeepers would gather up the takings at each end and be escorted by policmen along the sides of the pitch to the centre line where their was a small office under the stand. Although the gate money, would mostly consist of pennies, it amounted to a considerable sum and was carried in large cloth bags. Before long a supporter began shouting “here come the bag men!” when they appeared in front of the main stand. This developed into a chant of “here come the Baggies!”, giving the team its unofficial nickname.

Their love for the club has developed as a result of 39-year-old mum-of-three Sallyann volunteering to travel alongside 20 others last year with the Albion Foundation and helping out at a local maternity hospital.

Four of them returned this year to continue the work they started.

Speaking to the Express and Star, season ticket holder Sallyann said, “Because it’s the second time that we’ve been to that project they recognised us. They know us as the Baggies because we give them kit.”

Sallyann, a student paediatric nurse at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley regularly goes to watch the team with her two sons and told the newspaper it was tough seeing the youngsters living in slum conditions.

“It puts a whole new slant on the way you view things when you come back, you realise just how privileged you are,” she said.

Despite knowing that the international language of football was an ideal way to connect with the children in Kenya, she was still surprised by how much they took to The Baggies.

“They love football, I suppose it’s an international language,” she said.

“The children we work with in the slums play football but they haven’t got TVs so they don’t know the Albion as well as other teams.

“But by the end of the week they were doing it [the Boing Boing] themselves.

“The policemen that were looking after us said there was a real buzz about the Baggies going round the whole of Nakuru!”