Johnny McNichol was thought by many to be the most stylish inside-forward to play for the Albion. He was signed in August 1948 for a club record fee of £5,000 from Newcastle, and he made 165 appearances, scoring 39 goals.
With the club still recovering from the war years, his arrival gave Albion a considerable boost, as they finished sixth in his first season. He was the club's leading scorer over the next two seasons, and following the departure of Don Welsh to Liverpool, new manager Billy Lane appointed him club captain.
He thrived under Lane's attacking policies - he struck 14 goals in the 1951/52 season - and his performances kept Albion within touching distance of eventual champions Plymouth for much of the season. McNichol began to attract the attention of First Division teams, and three weeks before the start of the 1952/53 season he was reunited with former Albion team-mate Stan Willemse at Stamford Bridge after Albion accepted Chelsea's record £12,000 bid for him.
Johnny went on to play over 200 times for the Blues, and in 1955 helped Chelsea to their one and only League Championship.