HARTY: On the Albion and youth football

SO, the Albion are safe for another season, but was it really ever in doubt?

Clearly yes, when Gus Poyet came to the club. It almost harked back to that classic "Candid Camera" episode when they have a pristine shining car, with no engine inside it.

And that was perhaps a microcosm of the Albion, new apparent quality players had been added to the squad and on paper things looked promising.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

As we know, football is played on grass, rather than paper, and while I don't want to do Russell Slade a disservice, after staving off relegation last season, this time he was the wrong man in the wrong place. And, had he not been sacked, I seriously think the Albion would still be deep in relegation trouble.

It hasn't all been plain sailing for Poyet. The wretched run of home form finally was turned around, and it's not just what the manager has done on the field that is impressive.

The scouting system has been turned on its head, with a more detailed and extensive network, which can only reap benefits for the club in the long run.

It wouldn't be the Albion without there already being a huge wave of expectation for next season. Perhaps fuelled even further by strong rumours of a seven-figure transfer war chest.

But should we expect anything less from Tony Bloom?

With no disrespect to former incumbent Dick Knight, Bloom hasn't just talked about saving the club, he's actually saved the Albion. With the economic downturn, I understand there were serious doubts about whether the Falmer stadium could be funded and built.

Bloom, as a lifelong Albion fan, has bankrolled the whole project, while also pumping in vital funds for team strengthening.

It will be a strong and exciting League One campaign next year, perhaps even with both Leeds United and Crystal Palace in competition for promotion to the Championship, along with Southampton, Plymouth, Peterborough, Millwall and Charlton.

But, for the first time in more than 20 years, the Albion, with their benefactor, find themselves on something like a level financial playing field.

Congratulations to Worthing Town under-15s B, who won their first-ever Arun & Chichester Youth League game after a wait of more than five years on Sunday.

An emphatic 5-1 win against Rustington Park Youth was briefly tarnished when four-goal hero Josh England was booked for removing his shirt in celebration on scoring his hat-trick goal.

I appreciate refs have to adhere to the letter of the law, but surely aren't there times when discretion is the order of the day?

Hopefully, Josh, all your team mates/parents will have a whip round for the 8 fine, given the circumstances. Failing that, perhaps you can sell your story to the tabloid press?

With the football season coming to a close, local cricket has already started with a series of friendlies for our local sides.

It should be a great year, especially in light of the fact that we now have more youngsters playing the sport in the town at the various clubs than ever before.

There's also good news on the Evening Cricket League front that survives for another season and this year is up to five sides, instead of four.