Harty on the Albion, Sir Alex and Raiders

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I HAD deliberately put off writing this column until yesterday morning (Wednesday), as I was aware of the possibility of a knee-jerk reaction to Monday’s Amex play-off defeat to Crystal Palace.

There is no doubt in my mind that, in the 40 years I’ve watched the club, it was, for me, the most devastating defeat ever.

From the manner of the defeat, the team’s general performance, and making no apologies, who we lost to.

I received an array of texts from local Palace fans on Monday night – all good humoured and conciliatory, with exception of an abusive one in the early hours from a lad barely out of his teens, a young man who will eventually learn that if you throw, you also have to be able to catch.

Like the 1983 replay, I doubt I will ever watch Monday’s game again. As we did back then, and again when the ground was sold and the other troubles, we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again (that could almost be a song).

As for the future of manager Gus Poyet, much has been read into his post-match comments. If he does walk away, I thank him for what he has achieved, but remind everyone that no-one is bigger than the Albion.

Brian Clough walked out in 1974, and we survived and thrived and it would be the same scenario nearly 40 years later.

So, farewell Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the greatest managers domestic football has ever produced, but was he the greatest ever?

The obligatory and somewhat predictable pub bores have again had a convenient airbrush and re-write of history, with his possible sacking by United back in 1990 now being turned into an urban myth.

Domestically, we clearly will see not his like again, although in his sustained period of success his overall spending has yet to be surpassed by anyone, although City and Chelsea must be getting close by now.

But was he, overall, found wanting when it came to Europe?

Was he as good as Bob Paisley or Brian Clough, when crossing the Channel?

Granted, he had two wins out of four in Champions League finals. But there is an argument that United were outplayed by Bayern in 1999 until injury-time, and Chelsea fans will contest that they were the better side in Moscow until the penalty miss by John Terry.

On the other two occasions, against Barcelona, even the most passionate Red will concede that they well and truly beaten in both games.

Whatever people’s opinions, one thing is for sure, love him or loathe him, we will all miss him.

And, finally, congratulations to everyone at Worthing Raiders Rugby Club for an amazing season, which culminated in Saturday’s last-gasp promotion win in the play-off away to Stourbridge.

Before next year’s exciting campaign begins in earnest in September, the Raiders should have another date in the diary, as a civic reception at the Town Hall, with our esteemed incoming mayor Bob Smytherman, is the very least the club deserves in recognition for their outstanding achievements.

Over to you, Bobby . . .