Harty on the Albion’s push for promotion

IT was Lee Steele’s injury-time winner at Withdean against Bristol City on Easter Monday, 2002, which went a long way to securing the championship for the Albion that year.

That was probably one of my abiding Withdean memories, although that will probably now be surpassed by Liam Bridcutt’s injury-time winner on Saturday in the 4-3 thriller against Carlisle United.

Taking out the occasional defensive lapses, this is, as I said, some of the most attractive, attacking football I have seen in my time watching the Albion.

Testament to this was the other week when I hosted the monthly Albion podcast, available on the club website and iTunes, one my guests, Tony Millard, stated that this was the best football he had seen at the club in over half a century.

Without wishing to tempt fate, the title is now the Albion’s to lose, and while I could yet end up with egg on my face, along with thousands of others, that is exactly what I think is going to happen.

We will arrive at our state-of-the-art stadium with silverware in the trophy cabinet, a top quality manager in the dugout and a chairman with, not only the ambition to take the club to the highest level, but the funding to do this.

It is rumoured that if the Albion do get promoted, Gus Poyet will receive a transfer and wages budget never seen before by any manager in the club’s history. There is speculation already about the number of players he will bring in.

Such is the level that we are talking about, I firmly believe that Gus will look to buy players of an age and ability that can not only play at Championship level, but also in the Premiership.

The possibility of a “marquee” signing, which has been the subject of much speculation, could yet happen. Joe Cole, for example, a southerner, unhappy in the north of England with a young family – what better way to rejuvenate his career by joining the Amex revolution?

The Hampshire local media bias has been around for many years, and clearly shows no signs of abating.

On the late news on Meridian on Tuesday, the newsreader, clearly reading from autocue, was animated when she informed us that Portsmouth had failed in setting a club record of seven straight wins, in losing at Bristol City.

Brighton barely got a mention by stretching their lead at the top of League One, while Southampton’s 3-0 win at home to Yeovil, which, I quote, kept their title hopes alive was almost accompanied by the strains of a marching band.

If, and when, the Albion clinch the championship, I hope there is no tiddlywinks events in Hampshire that weekend, as we might not get a mention as a result!

And, finally, congratulations to everyone at Worthing Rugby Club for a very successful day on Saturday, raising all important funds for Cancer Research UK.

Mrs H returned home safe, having enjoyed both the club’s hospitality and the rugby, although she did get two questions wrong in the impromptu quiz I set her on Saturday night (Jean Pierre Rives played his international rugby for France and Leicester are nicknamed the Tigers).