Harty on Dean Hammond’s Albion return

FROM an Albion perspective, the closing of the transfer window was certainly very encouraging with a number of new players, tried and tested at Championship level, coming to the club.

I was especially pleased to see the return, albeit on loan, of former Albion skipper Dean Hammond.

On his arrival back, the internet seemed to be awash with negative comments, some bordering on abuse – centring on gestures that Hammond was alleged to have made in the face of, in my opinion, some unacceptable and frankly unwarranted abuse when he was playing for Southampton against the Albion.

Without wanting to sound elitist, sometimes supporters don’t know the full story, but Dean Hammond’s departure from the Albion in January, 2008, has been well documented.

There is no debate over the fact, during contract negotiations, he did ask about the Albion’s ambitions to return to the Championship and beyond, but is that not something that every Albion fan around the globe aspires to?

In short, in my opinion, Hammond’s departure to Colchester four-and-a-half years ago, was more about Dick Knight, by then approaching the end of his tenure as chairman, than Hammond himself.

As for the abuse and alleged gestures, I wonder how the “abusers” would react with that at their own place of work.

Bit different when the boot’s on the other foot.

Dean Hammond is a quality footballer, who when he plays will help make the Albion a better all-round team. Any other baggage should be consigned to the history books or, even better, the dustbin.

On the field, it’s great to see Craig Mackail-Smith has finally found the net, and some, scoring what is arguably the Albion’s goal of the season at Burnley on Saturday.

The Albion have the week off now because of international matches, and next find themselves in action next Friday against Sheffield Wednesday (7.45pm kick-off), which could yet prove to be the biggest league attendance at the club outside the top flight for more than 30 years.

l Hopefully, the Paralympics will not only provide many great sporting memories but also act as a huge wake-up call for others in the way you conduct yourself in sport, whether winning or losing (I’ll gloss over Oscar Pistorius).

l This Sunday sees the start of the local youth football season. It’s hard to believe that it’s 11 years since we started our little squad at Worthing United, and two of them have already turned 18 in the last week, and another on Sunday!

At this stage of the season, all the managers and teams have hopes for the season, whether it’s winning leagues or finishing higher than last year, I hope the overriding ambition is for everyone to enjoy themselves.

My own personal hope for all managers right across the spectrum, from under-seven right up to under-18, is that parents let the managers manage, and let the boys and girls enjoy their football. Have a good season . . .