HARTY: On Albion's big new signing

FRENZIED last-minute transfer activity from the Albion has seen a new wave of optimism descend over the Withdean stadium.

Having been slagged off, doubted and even had a number of fans calling for his head, Micky Adams has now clearly delivered off the pitch, so it's now up to his strengthened squad to deliver on it.

Without doubt one of Adams' most famous and effective signings was Bobby Zamora, who was plucked initially on loan from the obscurity of Bristol Rovers reserves.

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In fact, his first goal came at home to Plymouth at a time when I was on holiday in America, and picking-up a British newspaper to see the Albion scorer I thought the letters OG had been left out in error as, like the rest of the Albion faithful, I had never heard of him.

Zamora was class. He would be the first to admit that he was surrounded by a hardworking squad of unsung heroes, but his goals were one of the primary reasons the club won back-to-back championships in the early part of the decade, and his elevation to Premiership status with Spurs, West Ham and Fulham came as no surprise, and is fully deserved.

Young Welsh international striker Craig Davies has arrived at the Albion and takes over the No. 25 shirt, and brings the obvious comparisons.

I think that is a little unfair. Zamora was an Albion one-off in the same way as Peter Ward and Garry Nelson were. He was in the right place at the right time. For people to start calling Davies the new Bobby is unfair and puts a monkey on the boy's back before he's even started.

He's not the new Zamora, he's a player of international quality in his own right. And, in fact, the downside of this is that he will miss his home debut next Tuesday against Peterborough due to an international call-up by Wales.

As much as the memory of "Bobby Zee" will never go away, I hope supporters at the Withdean, even the ones who are not known for their patience, will give all the new players a chance to bed in.

I don't want to get carried away, but a couple of weeks ago, after the Albion drew 0-0 with Luton in the first leg of the JPT, the terrace critics were belittling any chance the Albion had of making it through to Wembley on April 4. With recent events, don't bet against the Sussex footballing public migrating to North West London in the first weekend in April.

Frank Lampard's controversial sending off at Anfield on Sunday has yet again opened up a can of worms.

Clearly, referee Mike Riley made a mistake, which may or may not have affected the result of the game. But how many players, and even managers, make mistakes over the passage of a season which also changes the course of a game? Had Riley had the benefit of a TV replay, would he have made a different decision? Possibly, but then if you bring TV playback into the game, at what level does it begin? And are you then effectively making the matches that don't have it almost a different sport?

Having said that, it works at the higher reaches of both cricket and rugby. Who can forget the Rugby World Cup Final in 2007 when England had a try ruled-out by TV evidence. I say who can forget, because as disappointing as it was, it was accepted by both players and spectators and the game moved on.

To my mind the most worrying aspect of this is the way Mike Riley is turned into some kind of pariah, and as a result has been taken off all duties this weekend. He only made a mistake, he didn't cheat and it doesn't make him a bad referee overnight.

A total over-reaction, but not uncommon these days.


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