Ian Hart: City opener was a wake-up call for Albion

So there we were, just after 5pm on Saturday, the Premier League promised land had finally arrived, the Amex was packed to the rafters with a record crowd.

Friday, 18th August 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:18 am
Action from Albion's clash with Manchester City. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

With the Albion poised to enter the big league, how fitting for the traditional blue and white flag spectacular.

Beginning with the Doncaster Rovers opener six years ago, the club have always come up trumps with their flags. Decent quality and often resplendent with the club crest, so at the moment in time in the club’s 116-year history, no doubt there would be something to remember?

Clearly not, the massed ranks of the 27,000-plus Albion fans arrived at their seats to find a ‘flag’ wedged in it which was no more than a blue or white bin bag on a white stick.

Had Albion chief exec Paul Barber had a touch on eBay? To be fair, once we’d all had a good laugh about it, the excitement of the game took over (although I’d wager there were probably 26,000 left in the stadium come 8pm).

Wake-up call, learning curve, whatever way you look at it, the Albion had a footballing lesson on Saturday evening.

But the most important thing about a lesson is how much you learn from it. The pace of the game was unrelenting, we had a clear indication that while the Championship was at times forgiving, one league up every mistake is usually punished.

As David Coleman famously once said “Goals pay the rent” unfortunately for most on Saturday, the Albion looked liked they were on housing benefit.

That won’t last 37 more games I know, but a new, proven, striker is a must before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.

Having re watched the game again on Sunday, 2-0 possibly flattered the Albion, but bizarrely despite defeat I believe we will benefit from the whole experience as the season progresses.

Onwards and upwards to Leicester City, and a real chance for our first points on the board – but clearly more chance with the aforementioned new acquisition up front.

Sometimes you get an even clearer picture when you look at the story behind the story.

Since they took an eight-year-old Mason to Worthing Cricket Club, Nick and Alison Crane have been everything sporting parents should be – never once questioning coaching methods or management decisions, just supporting their son.

They picked him up when he was inexplicably ‘let go’ by Sussex, and continued their unstinting support as he continued his career with Hampshire.

To make the England Test Squad at 20 is an amazing achievement and I something I know that is celebrated by the local sporting community as a whole.

Clearly the over-riding factor is Mason’s ability, but he is the first to acknowledge that he couldn’t have do it without the support and encouragement of his parents.

In a week where we’ve got top professional footballers effectively on strike, Mason’s rise to international recognition is all that is good about sport and why we all love it.

Listen to Harty’s latest Podcast with People’s Pundit winner Kev Clarke on: Facebook: @thepeoplespundits; Twitter: @peoplespundits; iTunes: thepeoplespundits. Email - [email protected]

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