Johnny Cantor: A cold winter’s day in Birmingham was the ‘moment’ I thought Albion would go up

Glenn Murray celebrates a goal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Glenn Murray celebrates a goal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

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I’m often asked which grounds I love to go to as a reporter. Of course next season I am looking forward to some amazing stadia but one I will miss is Derby County.

I know some might think why? But it is comfortable, a good viewing position, the BBC local radio team and press officer are helpful and there is a great atmosphere.

A few years back in the rain I witnessed another play-off disappointment for the Albion, so on the opening day of this season I gladly bounced to the Midlands in the sunshine for the opening day of this campaign.

It is difficult now to describe the emotional state of the Seagulls’ supporters after last season but there must have been a nagging feeling that this season could go one of two ways at the iPro. Certainly after that first game I was none the wiser. 0-0. Still, at least the sun was shining. Little did we know after we headed back to the car on August 6 what was in store.

Football, as I’ve said many times, is often about ‘moments’. So was there a ‘moment’ when I felt this would be the season the Albion would finally be promoted?

It would come on a cold winter’s afternoon in Birmingham. Chris Hughton’s side were 1-0 down and the manager decided to make a change. As Solly March dusted himself down for action Blues’ fans started chanting ‘’Who are you? Who are you?’’

On air on BBC Sussex, I commented that in the next 15 minutes they might just find out. March teed up two goals in ten minutes and as Glenn Murray sprinted 80 yards to celebrate the winner with the travelling fans you felt, you know what, they’ve got this.

Of course, that win was just three points and you could say the historic win at Hillsborough, the ‘ecstacy at the Cottage’, ‘the bedlam behind the goal’ at QPR were all defining moments in the season as well.

Some of the most memorable highlights have actually been away from home but the players have also delivered at the Amex, the demolition of Norwich or the 3-0 win over Reading.

However you cut it though, the fans may say it was Easter Monday and the promotion celebrations after the Wigan match.

It wasn’t to be last Saturday at home to Bristol City but the team have a third and final chance to win the title.

Victory at Villa Park would not necessarily define the Albion’s season but would apply the gloss it deserves. Of course the title won’t have been won on Sunday alone, it will have been won across the seasons, summer to spring, from the sunny glow of Derby to the chilling frost of Birmingham, throughout the chaos of the Wigan game and so many more.

Football IS about moments but promotions are about consistency and the Seagulls have maintained that from August to May.

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