HARTY: On Albion's FA Cup draw and darts

DOES the start to the New Year get any better cricket wise?

An emphatic win in the Durban Test, all played out in front of a Union Jack flag emblazoned with "The George and Dragon, Tarring Village" on it.

Where does the time go? The last time the Albion reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, January, 1993, John Major was living at Number 10, and Charles and Di were married.

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After beating Portsmouth at the Goldstone in a third round match that had everything but a streaker, the Albion were rewarded with a memorable day out to Old Trafford.

Beaten, but unbowed, the Albion went down 1-0, Giggs getting the winner, and had a cast-iron penalty appeal turned down.

It's another Premiership visit this time round, with a trip to Villa Park on the agenda. A 6,000-plus Albion turnout looks likely and win, lose or draw, I'm sure we'll all have a great day out.

That is more than can be said for Portsmouth fans at the moment. For all our footballing rivalries, I don't like seeing any set of fans going through what they are having to endure.

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To attract one skint sheik is unlucky. To then sell to another makes you wonder if someone from the club ran over a witches cat outside Fratton Park.

A sad moment for me this week with the realisation that one of my favourite sporting events has all but had it.

For many years, the BDO World Championship at the Lakeside Country Club was the darts tournament title every player aspired to. Unfortunately, with the advent of the PDC, the Ladbrokes event at the Alexandra Palace immediately before Lakeside is now clearly streets ahead of its rival.

Don't get me wrong, the PDC still need the framework of the BDO as it brings players through. Three of the last four finalists at the Ally Pally had played in Lakeside finals in the last five years. But to still call the event in Surrey, with its standard of darts, a world championship is like comparing Sir Steve Redgrave and Eddy "the Eagle" Edwards as Olympians.

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Perhaps the answer is a unified body, with the pros playing in London and the Lakeside being the pub player championship of the world. But, with the bitter war between the two factions still raging, that's as likely as Eddy the Eagle winning gold at the Winter Olympics.

Albion fans will get a chance to question manager Gus Poyet in person when he takes part in a fans' forum, in aid of the Albion in the Community Programme, at the Hove Greyhound Stadium on Thursday, January 21.

I'm compering the night, but don't let that put you off, because also on the panel that evening will be first-team coach Charlie Oatway and the legendary international striker Johnny Byrne.

Doors open at 7pm and tickets in advance are 10 (12 on the night), which also includes a curry. For all enquiries, please contact Steve Gibbon at the Albion on 01273 562611, or purchase tickets from the dog track.


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