Harty on... the Albion and the play-offs

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IF I was really mischievous, I could start this week’s column by printing the name of the Worthing-based Crystal Palace supporter who has sent me numerous text at various times this season, when the Albion haven’t been enjoying the best of form while the Eagles have.

No name, no text number, just a phrase that kept coming into my head, “It’s a marathon not a sprint”, an impressive four-point haul from the last two away games now leave the Albion on the cusp of play-off qualification.

It goes without saying that there is no easy game in the Championship but, with Blackpool and Wolves still due to visit the Amex, along with a trip to mid-table Leeds United, Gus Poyet’s men would have to experience a “Devon Loch” like collapse to not qualify for the play-offs.

Then, it’s a four-team knock-out tournament. And, as I’ve stated in these jottings before, on their day the Albion can beat anyone in this league.

So, in the week when lyrics from The Wizard of Oz have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, could this be the time that Albion fans in Sussex and around the globe dare to dream?

Apologies for being slightly self-indulgent, but Harty junior turns 18 this very day. On the event of his second birthday, the then Albion groundsman Brian Harwood let me take Sam, bedecked in his replica kit, for a little kick about on the Goldstone, recorded for posterity in both photograph and video.

Part of the video I took that day involved me standing on the centre spot and filming right around the ground, as I filmed I commentated on the tape, “This was our home for nearly 100 years, one day, son, I will tell you a tale of betrayal and greed”

Like most young Albion fans, he’s fully aware of what has gone on, I’ve told him enough times.

But that day in 1997, just over a week before the final game at the Goldstone, could either of us have even comprehended where the Albion would be and possibly be heading for the day he turned 18?

It really is a sporting story taken from the pages of a film script. There’s more twists and turns to come.

But, while the Albion continue to thrive, perhaps we should all spare a thought for others less fortunate.

This Sunday, there is a charity football match in aid of the very worthy charity War Child, put together by Craig Punter and his team at the “Families for Children” organisation.

It features a FFC XI against a Worthing FC past and present side, including such luminaries as Keith Rowley, Geoff Raynsford, Richard Tiltman, Paul Lelliott, Wayne Wren, playing alongside the crop of some of the Rebels’ current excellent youngsters.

Admission is via donation, and the game kicks off at midday.