Harty on the Albion and the Grand National

ON August 6, prior to the Doncaster game, if you’d offered most Albion fans a top 10 Championship finish, they would have snapped your hand off.

So, going into the final six games with the chance of a play-off place was an even bigger bonus. Yet, I still find myself with a hint of disappointment coming into the final home game at the Amex.

Have I myself fallen into the age-old trap of over expectation?

Almost certainly, yes. But, having looked at the progress of both Norwich and Swansea, I still think the Albion could have held their own in the Premier League with the right player acquisitions in the summer.

But we will never know now. The defeat at West Ham was a huge wake-up call, perhaps the biggest one in recent years.

Self inflicted? That’s open for debate but, at the end of it, in Gus we trust, so, hopefully, if I’m still in the privileged position of writing this column in 12 months’ time, we will look back at the last few weeks as a learning curve as we contemplate Premier League football at the Amex in August, 2013.

I was always a big fan of the travelling circuses at Worthing Rugby Club in the 1970s, so I possibly have a jaundiced view of the animal rights brigade and all their do-gooding.

However, the events at Saturday’s Grand National gave even me food for thought.

First and foremost, by the very nature of the race, and jump racing in general, there will be a degree of risk. However, it was clear even before the race started that Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised, was not in the right frame of mind, throwing jockey Tony McCoy off, as they made their way down to the starting point.

Only McCoy and the horse’s connections will know why they persisted in making the horse enter the race.

But it certainly added fuel to the fire of the small minority who want the event stopped for good.

On to Sunday, and down to Wembley for yet more controversy.

It’s great that everyone’s got an opinion on Chelsea’s goal that never was.

For the record, here’s what I think. It clearly didn’t go in, and John Terry, as a senior England international footballer, could and should have used the opportunity to show not just this country, but the rest of the world, that he is truly a sportsman.

He could have immediately gone to the ref and confirmed Juan Mata’s shot did not cross the line. Something which he clearly alluded to in a TV interview after the game – despite through lip-reading telling the ref it did cross the line at the time (must be something about Terry and lip-reading!).

Some say, why should he?

Why would he?

Well, does anybody recall when the enigmatic Paolo Di Canio caught a ball which he could have easily put into the net while playing for West Ham against Everton because the Toffees goalkeeper was down injured at the time?

And, remember the time when Robbie Fowler told a ref to un-award a penalty because there had been no contact?

It has happened before, but, once again, Mr Terry well and truly shows his true colours.

I’ve no doubt that Chelsea would still have gone on and won the game, such is the tactical ineptitude of the supposed saviour of English football.

But, had the Blues second goal been chalked out for the aforementioned reasons, Terry would have created himself a place in world football folklore, rather than the current position he holds.