As far as brave decisions go, Martin Hinshelwood’s choice to give his 18-year-old nephew Adam his full Championship debut must be right up there.
Wednesday marks 20 years since the former Albion boss threw Adam in at the deep end, in what would prove to be an occasion to remember for our supporters who made the trip to Burnley that day.
“It only feels like yesterday really, I had a great time and a great experience,” Adam recalls. “I had no real first team experience at all, but all of a sudden I was flying up to Manchester with the team and playing in front of a big crowd at Turf Moor.
“It was my uncle’s first game as manager, which we had to contend with, so I didn’t want to let him down. He showed a lot of faith to play me in his team for his first game and to believe that I could make the step up.
“You’ve got to back yourself though, all the work you put in is to get that opportunity. When it comes you’ve got to be ready to take it, I felt ready to be playing and I backed myself without being too big headed – I had the self believe that I could do a job.
“I grew into the game and it was a bit of a makeshift backline with me and Robbie Pethick at centre-back, but it worked on the day.”
Saying it worked is a bit of an understatement from Adam. He was Man of the Match as Albion ran out 3-1 victors, although it didn’t guarantee him a place in the starting XI the following week – or a big new contract.
“A few family members must have been picking the award on the day! Not many pundits expected us to win, I made a good tackle that led to a goal. There will have been a few guys in the team who will have been disappointed not to have played ahead of me but it was the whole story that seemed to come into play.
“I got dropped for the following game against Coventry which we drew – I always say to my uncle now, ‘never change a winning team!’
“I made seven appearances that year. I was a third-year scholar, playing in the Championship on £90 a week, my uncle didn’t sort me out a good contract! Would I do anything different? No way, I had an unbelievable time, I loved every minute.”
The now 39-year-old called time on his playing career in 2010 after struggling with knee injuries and is now the manager of Worthing, where he’s not the only familiar face to Albion fans.
“Adam El Abd is now playing for me at Worthing, it’s a different relationship to when we were playing! We’ve got Darren Budd as well. I speak to the scholars I came through with like Dan Harding, Dan Beck, Nicky Bridle and Phil Bartholomew. Chris Greatwich’s son played alongside mine from under-8s so we’ve gone full circle together.
“Seeing my son [Jack] play now having come through the system here myself is a bit of a shock.”