Ian Hart: Could the words of Stallone inspire Albion?

Whatever the division, and on the odd occasion even in cup competitions, hidings for the Albion are part and parcel of football.

Thursday, 7th December 2017, 7:30 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:41 am
Action from Albion's clash with Liverpool. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Down the years I’ve witnessed a few and while Saturday’s 5-1 reverse at home to Liverpool wasn’t pleasant viewing, my Albion world won’t stop revolving as a result of it. Some might argue with the chances Albion didn’t take – and specifically Glenn Murray – 5-1 flattered the Reds, but ultimately the record books will only report who did score.

To a degree, there was almost a sense of inevitability to it all. As I made reference to in this very column on a couple of occasions, Chris Hughton has in the more high-profile matches set up a game plan to prevent a heavy defeat. Clearly it worked against City, Arsenal and up at United, many thought the Albion’s showing at Old Trafford was worth at least a point, but sooner or later there was always going to be a game where things didn’t quite gel, and that’s exactly what happened.

While it hurt everyone concerned both on and off the field, ultimately it could be pivotal to the rest of the season.

Sylvester Stallone famously said to his on-screen son in the final Rocky movie “Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give... it’s about how many you can take and still keep moving forward.” Does that apply to Premier League football? Almost certainly yes, starting with the trip to Huddersfield this Saturday, we could possibly learn more about the character of the Albion squad than we previously knew.

While Burnley have well and truly bucked the trend with some great results against the top sides, Saturday’s game against Liverpool was one of those that I’d effectively written off back in August. By the same token, the visit to Yorkshire is one of the matches we have to get something from.

Speaking to Alan Mullery in the 1901 Lounge after the game on Saturday, he drew comparisons from the Albion’s first season in the top flight back in 1979-80. In November 1979, the Albion were humbled 4-1 at the Goldstone by Kenny Dalglish and the legendary Liverpool side, yet the following week picked themselves up, travelled to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, at that time the reigning European champions, and won 1-0 – ending Forest’s long-standing unbeaten home league record in the process.

Many, including one of my journalistic mentors and former Herald soccer writer John Vinicombe, cited that result at the City Ground as the turning point of the season. Hopefully while Liverpool have repeated history nearly 40 years later, a positive result, dare I say it all three points, at Huddersfield will be looked back on in May as one of the most important moments in the season.

n For the next couple of weeks, the column will be coming from the other side of the world – and on arriving in Australia on Tuesday evening there was an interesting observation regarding TV sport.

The Ashes is still the biggest event in Australian sport, therefore I was pleasantly surprised that the TV coverage remains free to air on Channel 9 – a point the station makes at every available opportunity.

While many of us love our cricket in the UK, would the sport be even more popular if it remained ‘live’ on terrestrial television?